Macedonia removes government complex’s protective railings

Workers use a crane to dismantle metal fencing from the front of the Macedonia's Government in the capital Skopje, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. Dozens of workers have started dismantling the metal fence around the Macedonian government buildings, seen as symbolic move to eradicate divisions in the country and to devalue former conservative government extravaganza. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Workers are removing ornate metal railings protecting the Macedonian government building complex in Skopje, under the new administration’s drive to boost openness and reconciliation.

The dismantling that started Thursday had been a campaign promise by the left-led government, which took over in 2016 after a decade of conservative rule.

The recently erected fence was part of the conservatives’ much-criticized campaign to reshape the city center with buildings, monuments and statues in a grandiose, neoclassical style. The overall project was designed to reinvigorate national identity and forge a link with classical antiquity.

Built during strong political unrest in 2015, the fence also served the practical purpose of keeping anti-government protesters away from the building complex.

The cast-iron structure cost 700,000 euros ($800,000). It will be taken to a warehouse.

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