On which planet does Silegov breathe?

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Skopje Mayor Petre Silegov said Thursday the Facebook initiative of parents saying they would not allow their children to go to school due to the Skopje air pollution was politically motivated.

“I believe that the so-called civil initiative is a cheap political trick of the populist policy created by VMRO-DPMNE, which consequences are currently felt. According to my information, it is politically motivated in order to discredit the local and national authorities in the fight against air pollution”, Silegov told reporters at the sidelines of a debate on integrated approach for protection of air quality, part of the USAID Civil Society Project.

Regarding the possibility of an early winter school break, Silegov said this was not a decision for him to take, adding he was prepared to undertake all activities in his capacity towards protecting the children.

“The City of Skopje is currently supplying a portion of secondary schools with air filters in classrooms, so that children can attend instruction in a healthier environment”, said Silegov.

According to him, Skopje is now suffering from the decades-long environmental neglect.

“Continual building, mass destruction of greenery, especially in the downtown area, lack of policies and strategies have led to the current state”, assessed Silegov.

Referring to the measures undertaken against pollution, he said a city cleaning campaign has been launched, along with a new public transport concept in the pipeline, harmonization of municipal urban plans with the general urban plan towards stopping “the madness in construction”.

“Some aspects have resulted in irreversible damages, including an interrupted air flow in the city”, said Silegov and urged citizens to alter their living habits.

Deputy Minister of Environment and Physical Planning Jani Makraduli said an integrated and coordinated approach of all stakeholders was required, alongside ideas from civil society organizations, supported by citizens.

“We are open to all viable proposals that we can later financially support”, said Makraduli.

Edward Gonzalez, USAID Development Office Director, said pollution is a complex problem that requires multidisciplinary approach.

“Macedonia and Skopje are very polluted when compared to the European average, but there are cities worldwide that are even more polluted. We can use their experiences and learn from their examples so that authorities and the civil society find practical and effective solutions”, added Gonzalez.