Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, in winter, the time of year that is consistently ranked as one of the most polluted cities in Europe.
We pay our attention to the damage that pollution causes in the country. During euronews Green Week, our news teams explore stories and solutions for a better planet across Europe.
According to estimates by the World Bank, 1,100 people die each year as a result of air pollution in North Macedonia. Its population is only two million inhabitants.
The Southeast Europe Health Network is a regional organization based in Skopje. It promotes health and well-being among the Member States, and is actively working in the area due to the alarming situation.
Mira Jovanovski Dashic, Director of the European Health Network underlines: “We have a report prepared by experts from our Member States, and it shows that the damage of air pollution to health is very great, and the consequences can be seen in heart disease, allergies and cancers. “
Several investigations have shown that some of the large industrial consumers use fuels that are prohibited by European regulations.
Now that North Macedonia has harmonized much of its legislation, citizens and their representatives want to know how it will affect them.
Naser Nuredini, Minister of the Environment explains: “That is why we always talk about the rule of law. We have to apply our laws; we cannot limit ourselves to harmonizing them. We have to work on different fronts. That is why we need better intersectoral collaboration. The Ministry of the Environment has proposed some laws, new laws. We cannot limit ourselves to passing them in Parliament, but we have to collaborate with the inspectors and with the other ministries and agencies to apply them. “
Converting the letter of the law into everyday reality is one of the greatest systemic weaknesses of countries in transition like North Macedonia. The European Commission notes this chronic weakness in all its reports. Citizens are still waiting for the government to implement the Commission’s recommendation which, among other things, will also bring a bit of that much needed fresh air to North Macedonia.