Green CIVIL spoke with the Mayor of the Municipality of Gostivar, Arben Taravari, about the green perspectives of the municipality, about promotion, fostering and understanding green values and their connection to social justice and antinationalism.
GREEN CIVIL: What are the green perspectives of your municipality?
Taravari: First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation, it’s always an honour to be CIVIL’s guest. Last year we spoke about the ecology, about the green future of the municipality, and now, a year later, we are analysing the latest developments in our city in relation to this issue. I can say that Gostivar is one of the greenest urban municipalities that has the greatest number of parks. I can say this for sure.
In these three years, parks have been created that are organized both in the city and in the villages of Gostivar. In addition, during this period, in this sense we worked on organizing bike trails, with which we want to motivate people who want to use their bicycles or walk to work, or move around the city, all with the purpose of using less vehicles. I think that the trails that are about three kilometres long across the entire municipality are well accepted by the citizens.
In this period, as a municipality, we are also subsidizing people who are buying bicycles, in order to motivate them to use them as much as possible. Last year and this year too, we also have subsidies for inverters, so that energy that doesn’t pollute the environment is used, although as a city, we are one of the few cities that have a landfill nearby, which unfortunately has been operating for twenty years already as a regional landfill, for the entire Polog region. There are huge facts and arguments that the landfill greatly pollutes the air of our city. I can boast that we are one of the few cities that have five air quality meters, at the beginning of the term there wasn’t a single air quality meter. Now there are five, in different places, set up by professionals, volunteers, citizens of Gostivar, with which a network for assessing the accurate rate of pollution in all places of the city has been created allowing us to have the average pollution. And not only for one harmful substance, but for ten different polluting substances that have a negative impact on the lives of citizens. So now all of this is transparent, and I hope that soon it will also be published on the municipality’s website for all the citizens of our municipality to be able to be informed on the pollution in all parts of the city.
GREEN CIVIL: The story about the Rusino landfill that is near your city, continues from last year. What is happening with Rusino now?
Taravari: Since 2015, sometime in June, the mayors of the municipalities of the Polog region had signed for Rusino to be an official regional landfill for all nine municipalities of the Polog region, although as a landfill it has been operating for more than twenty years. as an illegal landfill. Do have in consideration that in Macedonia there is almost no official landfill that meets all standards.
GREEN CIVIL: Is dumping waste in the landfill still charged? Last year it was charged…
Taravari: It was charged for some municipalities, they paid this charge in “Komunalec”, which is an enterprise in the Municipality of Gostivar, but this landfill is illegal, like most of the landfills in the country. There was a civic initiative, “Stop Rusino”, which started spontaneously, although I think that it wasn’t spontaneous and that it had a political background, even though most members were people who care about the environment, love Gostivar, want clean air and want the regional landfill to be dislocated from there, so I joined them thinking that we have a common goal and that we truly want the landfill to be dislocated since it doesn’t meet the standards. Professionals tell us that it’s located at an altitude and that little wind is needed for all the harmful substances to immediately reach the city. Hence, the place where the landfill is located is unfavourable, and we as a municipality joined them but did not sign, did not pass it to the council of the municipality. All council members of the Municipality of Gostivar, from all political parties supported me and supported the “Stop Rusino” initiative, along with another non-governmental organization “GBeko”, and together, at a meeting with the Minister of Environment, Naser Nuredini, succeeded to agree that the Rusino landfill would not exist in the next five years. In the meanwhile, there is an investment from the Swiss Agency for Development, which this period should start with activities for addressing the soil and air pollution across that entire territory, which is huge, and I hope that there will be an epilogue. For the meantime, in these 4-5 years, a location for a landfill in the Polog regions should be sought, where the regional landfill could be located, and for the entire area around Rusino to be rehabilitated and then to plant greenery and for it to be a green area that could be one huge park.
GREEN CIVIL: When we talk about green values, it is known that they don’t only refer to environmental protection which, on the other hand, is often confused with terms related to communal hygiene. Green values imply respect for human dignity, which implies also social justice and antinationalism, strategies for sustainable development, which imply leaving the principles of liberal capitalism… How much, according to your analyses, do politicians know in our country?
Taravari: That’s a very individual question. It depends on the personal perceptions and intentions in politics. I think that there should be work done in this direction, although there are different types of politicians, both in the country and in the region. I think that in the next 20 -30 years we will get to where we want to be. I think that there is a huge difference from the last ten years, slowly but surely we are on the path we should be on, and we are on the path to look like those to where we want to integrate in the following period. The question is very personal, and every politician should answer for themselves.
camera: Atanas Petrovski
editing: Arian Mehmeti
photography: Biljana Jordanovska
translation: Natasa Cvetkovska