Diners at a fish taverna in Thessaloniki on Saturday night could have been forgiven for thinking they had seen the spirit of Alexander the Great hovering over their tables. The warrior king’s cultural pedigree and historical reach were certainly on the minds of those present. This was no ordinary meal – either for Yiannis Boutaris, Thessaloniki’s mayor or his guest Zoran Zaev, prime minister of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. The two were sending a signal: that old enmities belonged to the past, along with the nationalist rhetoric that for more than a quarter of a century has kept Greece and its northern neighbour at loggerheads. ‘I am not expressing national diplomacy or strategy,’ Boutaris told the Observer. ‘But I do think this bullshit has to end.'” (The Guardian)

“The Russian Embassy in Macedonia ‘warned’ the country that during the New Year holidays, they will be under increased ‘Russian influence,’ jokingly alluding to the ‘Russian salad’ as the traditional dish which is served at all tables for the New Year’s holidays. ‘Attention! In the coming days, a significant increase in #Russianinfluence in the entire territory of Macedonia and beyond will be forecast. # RussianSalata,’ wrote on Twitter the Russian Embassy in Macedonia.” (Meta)

 

“Macedonia has introduced emergency measures against dense clouds of pollution that envelope its cities. The annual winter smog problem that besets cities in the Western Balkans is blamed on a mix of coal burning, aging industry, and high-polluting emissions from older vehicles. Macedonia’s government says residents of Skopje and Tetovo have been granted free travel on trains and buses to discourage the use of cars. People with chronic illnesses and pregnant women are excused from work and outdoor sports activities have been temporarily banned.” (RFERL)