After the unveiling of a grandiose musical fountain earlier this month, Serbian social media is again abuzz with news of another extravagant beautification project, this time a huge Serbian flag gracing an enormous flagpole.
The 30-metre-wide flag, due to be flying early next year, will sit atop a 120-metre-high flagpole at the mouth of the Sava River and will be visible from almost any area in Belgrade. According to government-owned newspaper Večernje Novosti, the initiative was proposed by President Aleksandar Vučić with the aim of “strengthening the cult of the flag”.
Much of the controversy surrounding this project stems from concerns about funding. According to an interview by Belgrade’s mayor, Siniša Mali, on Pink TV on 24 June, the 1.8 million euros ($2.05 million) required to erect the flagpole will come from the city budget. The official Belgrade city website notes that, in addition to this figure, further funds will be dedicated to erecting ten 30-metre-high flagpoles across the city.
Local residents have drawn comparisons between the flag and the recent opening of a mammoth musical fountain on Belgrade’s Slavija roundabout.
“Let’s ask [city manager] Vesić if he can create a flagpole which will conduct the fountain, I heard Bulgarians really like that,” one Twitter user joked on Monday night, making reference to a much mocked statement by Mayor Mali in December 2015 about huge numbers of Bulgarian tourists visiting Belgrade, before posing a question: “When will we make a 300-metre-high Vučić?”
Another suggested that it might be more lucrative to fly a Bulgarian flag.
Beyond comedy, a large number of social media users condemned the expense of the project, highlighting that such a large amount of money would be better spent on medical facilities in light of the prevalence of crowdfunding campaigns to send patients abroad for treatment.
Perhaps the criticism of the project would be tempered by a sense of pride at breaking a flagpole record? Alas, the Belgrade flagpole comes up short: the world’s tallest stands at 171-metres-high in Saudi Arabia.
Source: Balkan Insight