Who’s blowing up the Balkans?

Posted in Europe | 07-Aug-08 | Author: Dame Chkatroski

Landscape view of the area Mariovo in Macedonia.

Karamanlis and Gruevski – two new nuclear plants in the Balkans

Only a year ago all world media informed that in the southern part of Macedonia, near the Macedonian-Greek border, in the Mariovo area boxes with French cognac from the time of World War I were found. Namely, this area along the present day Macedonian-Greek border was the site of the Salonika Front, which was the demarcation line of the powers in World War I. This front was hundreds of kilometers long and there were millions of soldiers on both sides of the clash.

Today, both the Greek and the Macedonian government are interested in building nuclear plants in the Mariovo area that spreads in both countries – Greece intends to do it through a joint investment with France and 34% participation by German Siemens, whereas Macedonia, according to the statements of the Macedonian Prime Minister, is probably thinking about doing it with Siemens and partners from the USA or Japan.

Greek Prime Minister Karamanlis even announced the location for the construction of the nuclear plant – it will be in the Greek part of Mariovo in Florina, at a distance of 10 km from the Macedonian border, whereas the Macedonian Prime Minister stated that the probable location of the nuclear plant will be in Mariovo, at about 12- kilometer distance from the Greek border. This means that there will be about 20 kilometers of land distance between the two nuclear plants or about 10 kilometers of air distance, which is acceptable when it comes to the safety of both nuclear plants that would probably be a joint concern.


These last two years the Mariovo region was struck by huge fires in which hundreds of hectares of pinewood were destroyed. During these fires there were numerous huge explosions of the ammunition that was buried there after the end of the Salonika Front clashes, which lead to research on the quantity of ammunition buried in the region in the course of World War I.

The results of this research are astonishing: 85,000-105,000 tons of various ammunition and explosives of various kinds and 50-250 tons of chemical weapons and chlorine compounds.

The locations that the Prime Ministers proposed are 10-15 kilometers of air distance away from the places where these hundreds of thousands of tons of explosives were supposedly stored and they are the very same locations where the old French cognac was found.

The problem is that the danger signs and notifications and the entries to these warehouses cannot be recognized because of the thick pine wood and the rough terrain – the 89 years that have passed since World War I have done their bit.

Those that would build these nuclear plants first of all need to clean up this dangerous terrain because the huge quantity of ammunition is a direct threat to the plants that the Prime Ministers intend to build here and it would be best for both of them to agree on the most suitable way to do it.

It is probable that the French and German archives and experts would help them in this regard but even then this entire undertaking would take years.

The calls by foreign media for going to Mariovo and digging in order to find the expensive French cognac are a little ironic but they attracted certain fans of this cognac to do it without describing the reality about the risk that they exposed themselves to.

Maybe cleaning explosives from this region will uncover yet some other bottles of this cognac which will probably be drunk by the Macedonian and Greek Prime Minister before they decide whether to build two nuclear plants or one for both countries. Knowing both of them as well as the advisors around them, two plants will be built in a hectic race for making the bigger and more modern one.

Till then, the good old French cognac will rest hidden.