The Zaev Government is holding an opening ceremony for the Skopje – Stip highway, which has been in use for several weeks now. The 47 kilometers long highway, worth 177 million EUR, is a rare new infrastructure investment project in the underdeveloped eastern part of Macedonia
It was initially expected that the highway will be quietly put in use, after Zaev endured days of mockery for the outlandish celebration when he was opening the Demir Kapija – Gevgelija highway last year. That highway, built partly with EU funds, was almost complete when Zaev took over, but it still took his Government a year to finish it.
During the political crisis which his SDSM party started in 2015, Zaev was frequnetly accusing the Nikola Gruevski Government of abuse of office for the contracts it signed with Chinese investors for the Skopje – Stip highway, and the larger Kicevo – Ohrid highway. After taking over power in 2017, Zaev ordered that construction stops until the contracts with the Chinese Sinohydro company are renegotiated, but after a while the Government relented and finished the nearly done Skopje – Stip highway, although well behind schedule.
Because of the years of criticism they poured on the “Chinese highways”, it was expected that the low key opening of the Skopje – Stip highway, which was done largely after local citizens insisted and practically began using the unfinished highway, will be the end of it. But, getting a politician not to brag about a piece of infrastructure, even one built by his bitter political rival, which you yourself criticized for so long, is impossible. Zaev hilariously used the Skopje – Stip and Kicevo – Ohrid highways in a promotional video as his main accomplishments in the second anniversary of his Government, and today he plans a grand opening.
Nikola Gruevski, not a political emigre in Hungary, wrote a scathing comment about the planned opening, reminding the public that the actual builders of the highway, especially then Transportation Minister Mile Janakieski, are now victims of political persecution.
I’m dragged before the courts on the charge that, get this, I was influencing the contractors on the highway to finish it as soon as possible, so that I would receive a gain from their work – in the form of votes at the next elections. Naturally, the racketeers who are in power now don’t care about such forms of gain. They are after other gains. Either way, hope we use the Skopje – Stip highway well. And to the thieves in the Government, try to at least maintain it in good order. Don’t let me find it ruined when I come back 🙂 🙂 Greetings from Budapest, Gruevski wrote.