These are simply not topics to be written about or debated; we are not doing anything useful about ensuring a better future for society and the individual.

 Borjan Jovanovski

In Macedonia, if you ask someone in the most polite way what is happening in the country on the topic of smart specialisation, you seriously risk an answer – Are you kidding me? This is literally how things are in this country in terms of the topic – smart specialisation – as with any other specialisation, or any education. These are simply not topics to be written about or debated; we are not doing anything useful about ensuring a better future for society and the individual. The fact that the society is recognized as the most media illiterate in Europe, or that it is regularly at the bottom of the Pisa rankings, while the universities are almost lost from the Shanghai list… all this apparently has nothing to do with us.

Macedonia is deeply immersed in its own history, diving in that ocean in search of its own identity. In the 1990s, the Macedonians were afraid of the Albanians, and thought that they would be… I don’t know what anymore. At the beginning of the millennium, in a quarrel with the Greeks, we got stuck in antiquity, teaching them about each of Alexander the Great’s immediate family. We spent a billion euros to embarrass ourselves in front of the whole world by changing our own personal appearance and creating the biggest kitsch in recent European history. Now it’s Bulgaria’s turn, the Bulgarianization, the defense of the Macedonian language, even though it is an indisputable fact in every linguistic atlas of the world. In the meantime, we forgot about those people who created the modern Macedonian state after the Second War. Today, hardly any young person knows about Stale Popov, the author of the first novel in the Macedonian literary language, or Vlado Malevski, the author of the text of the Macedonian national anthem, or a number of other actors to whom Macedonia has been indebted because of the works they left behind. Macedonia is simply lost in its own introspection, producing an endless series of identity crises.

Those who are interested in real education and upgrading in general do not have the educational and academic institutions in Macedonia as an option anymore. They begin to cease to exist. A growing number of young people are looking for their education in Slovenia, a country that gathers all young potentials from Macedonia like a magnet by offering them completely free education.

Let me return to the topic. I contacted all Macedonian institutions in an attempt to get an answer to the question of what is happening on the subject of Smart Specialisation in Macedonia. I did not receive any response from any institution. The only ones who knew anything were the EU Delegation, who answered me very briefly that the Ministries of Education and Economy undertook to prepare a strategy, which means that, in Macedonia, this topic will not be actualized even in the next decade.


Borjan Jovanovski, long-time correspondent from Brussels and author of a large number of TV programs dedicated to European integration processes