Interview with Mr. Zlatko Origjanski, Director of the Cultural-Information Center of North Macedonia in Tirana, exclusively for Argumentum.al
“Tirana became for me the great love I fell in; with its hospitable and beautiful people, with the streets full of life, history and flowers. When I am out of Albania and on my way back, I always say to my driver, come on, let's drive faster, I wanna go back home”.
By Marjana Doda
At the outset of an exclusive interview with Argumentum.al, Mr. Zlatko Origjanski, Director of the Cultural-Information Center of North Macedonia which was opened in Tirana ten months ago, shared with the readers his conclusion that people of North Macedonia and Albania do not know each other at all; they do not know the history, culture and connection of the two respective countries.
“I have the impression that we do not know the mentality, the way of life, and even the climate, food and music,” Director Origjanski said, unveiling that part of his task is specifically to break down prejudices and images created in the past.
Speaking of his professional background, Mr. Origjanski said that he was composer and had released nine albums in the past 40 years and had written music for more than 50 theatre plays.
In a comment on his impression on Albania he said it is a fantastic country with fantastic people. “Tirana has become for me the great love I fell in; with its hospitable and beautiful people, with the streets full of life, history and flowers. When I am out of Albania and on my way back, I always say to my driver:``Come on, let's drive faster, I want to go back home.”
He stressed that the Center, which was opened on June 10,2021, has organized some activities and the expectations are to do many things together. “Firstly, we need to get rid of the old Yugoslav-Albanian paintings, those measures do not apply today and no one deals with them,” the Director of the Center said.
Mr. Origjanski had the following message to both nations: “My message to both nations is to turn towards what life is like, today, now and here. We are all mortals. Let’s leave something good, beautiful and sublime behind ourselves!”
Full interview follows:
- Mr. Origjanski, the Cultural- Information Center of the Republic of North Macedonia was opened in the Republic of Albania only a few months ago, following the agreement signed between the two governments of the two respective countries. What is its mission? What does this mean for the two countries that are close and far from each other sometimes?
- I have been living in Tirana for ten months now and my conclusion is that we do not know each other at all; we do not know the history, culture and connection of the two countries. I have the impression that we do not know the mentality, their way of life, and even the climate, food and music. One of my tasks here is specifically to break down prejudices and images created in the past. It is a fact that we are very far from each other. Macedonians and Albanians from Macedonia have created some sort of a common mentality, which is totally different from the Albanian mentality and life here, however, today is the 21st century, things shall be revealed to the end and our acquaintance and cooperation shall happen.
Tirana is an incredibly beautiful city, open and wide. The mayor of Tirana, Mr. Erion Veliaj, is a citizen of the world, well-travelled and educated, full of new ideas. He is active every day, his office is like walking into a fairy tale from Milan. He rides a bicycle instead of driving a car (I do not know how to drive a car by the way, I ride a bicycle) and he knows all the world's music. We have only met twice, yet he gave me the impression that we have known each other since high school. Haha
-You are the first Director of the Cultural- Information Center in Tirana, a well-known musician in North Macedonia. Would you be so kind as to tell something more about yourself in this first presentation to the Albanian readers? Who is Zlatko Origjanski?
-I am a composer, I have released nine albums in the past 40 years, I have written music for more than 50 theatre plays while working with directors like Unkovski, Milcin and many others. I was part of the group ‘Anastasia’, where we wrote the music for the movie "Before the Rain", a winner of the "Golden lion in Venice ", as well as nominated for an Oscar by director Milcho Manchevski.
Followed by that, I played in hundreds of concerts around European cities and festivals, wrote music for several important advertising campaigns for my country, composed twenty songs for several famous names from the Macedonian pop scene, one ballet music, and released two albums under the name of Lola V. Stain ... and so on.
-You have already been in Albania for some time now. Which are your impressions and what has impressed you the most in this neighboring country?
- It is a fantastic country with fantastic people. Just like Cuba was the great love of Hemingway, the island of Hydra for Leonard Cohen, Paris for Kadare, so did Tirana became for me the great love I fell in; with its hospitable and beautiful people, with the streets full of life, history and flowers. When I am out of Albania and on my way back, I always say to my driver, come on, let's drive faster, I wanna go back home.
-Which are some of the activities organized by this center so far, and does it have a calendar of cultural events for the coming months? Have joint cultural activities been planned between the two countries?
- During these ten months, I managed to find an apartment to live in and a place to work. The centre was opened on June 10, 2021, and later I also made several events. The women's quartet "Trinity Strings" performed here, presenting themselves with classical and tango music, thanks to Edit Pula, director of the Rea Center and the Mayor, Erion Veliaj. A month ago, here in Tirana, the "Çupa" jazz band from Skopje performed at the "JAZZ IN ALBANIA" festival.
-How much interested are Albanian citizens to get acquainted with North Macedonia and its culture?
-We are two European countries. Today's youth has much less boundaries with each other, people cross the boundaries with ID cards, free from historical burdens, and they want to socialize and cooperate. There is no culture in the world that is not mixed with another, there are no nations and people that are not a complex of different influences, thus being mixed with other nations.
-Can we say that this center will be a cultural bridge bringing Albanians and Macedonians closer?
-That's right. By the way, for many centuries we have lived in a common state, the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine Empire. Albania is a place that never sleeps. Today it has five or more world singers, an incredibly lively music scene, new literature, painting etc. People are curious like children, full of passion to do something new, good and beautiful. We can do many things together. Firstly, we need to get rid of the old Yugoslav-Albanian paintings, those measures do not apply today and no one deals with them. If you go deeper into traditional Albanian music, you will see that in that part, we speak the same exact language; our weddings have similar taste, plotting and unfolding, we share two lakes, we are actually two countries, a bridge between what is the Eastern and Western world. Our advantage is that we contain both of these; we have European culture, as well as all the mysticism and secrets of the East within us …
- In conclusion, Sir, what is your message to the citizens of our two countries, Albania and North Macedonia?
- Openness and liberation from the fear that someone will take something from us. It is quite interesting that people have a very positive attitude towards our country here, they do not see us as enemies at all, nor does anyone use our current constitutional name, North Macedonia. This is the Mediterranean; time and life flow and are understood in a completely different way. Here, probably because of the climate and the sea, people spend most of the day outside. Nobody talks about big political topics, most of them wonder whether they will manage to sell fish, tangerines and olive oil for that day. My message to both nations is to turn towards what life is like, today, now and here. We are all mortals, let’s leave something good, beautiful and sublime behind ourselves!