March 2011

More Montenegro Green Building Council work at the very beginning of the month. I sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Bosiljka Vuković the Head of government’s Office for Sustainable Development on the 1st. OSD has always been very supportive of the GBC. Indeed it was of course its then Head, Ljubiša Perović, who set up the initial meeting in November 2008 which we later were invited to join.
We drive through to spend the first week in Macedonia. Young friends of Anke, Maja and Ace, whom she met within her first week in Skopje in 2004, get married on 05, and invite us across to help celebrate. Lots of fun despite the inevitable loud music (fortunately we are not too near the loudspeakers), lots of dancing and lovely to be treated like family. We take time out to catch up with other friends over lunches and other visits. Among them is a young man whom Anke helped with advice and contacts in his setting up a business to process ecologically produced honey. Ogi has spent the past 5 years trying to get planning permission to build a small factory near a small town in the south-east of the country. He has incredible stamina and has refused either to pay bribes or be put off by the complications the local bureaucrats, and the central ministries, have thrown at him. We see flashy TV adverts encouraging people to invest in Macedonia – the reality is totally different. Anyway we have a lovely hour or two with him at his home; he has children the same ages as the youngest of our assortment of grandchildren. Anke remarks afterwards that we are collecting proxy-children and proxy-grandchildren!

On our return journey via Struga we stop off to see more old friends – James’ interpreters in the early days of his time in the country. Both are doing ok in their respective new careers. One has extremely well-put together
apartments for short holiday stays, right on the lake side of Lake Ohrid, with fantastic views across the water to the mountains. The other is very busy with ecological work, something he had been doing before working for EUMM. We discuss with him a possible workshop/ seminar on eco-tourism, something again which Anke had been working on during her time in Macedonia, when she helped found a regional NGO, 4x4x4 Balkan Bridges. We meet, as always when in Struga, at Faruk Luso’s cafe (Cafe Regata). Faruk’s son Erdal is a highly accomplished sailor, and represented Macedonia in the ISAF Volvo World Youth Championships last year in Istanbul, when he came 47th. Sadly with the parlous state of Macedonia’s economy, Faruk cannot continue to fund his son, and finding other sponsors is near to impossible.

We also overnight in Tirana. Anke loves driving there – it is totally chaotic and challenging, especially for a woman as macho Albania men are determined to cut her out! We stay at the Broadway, secluded and comfortable, with excellent rakija! It is great to see James’s former boss Maryse Daviet (now the French ambassador) and catch up with Florian Raunig (Austrian ambassador, previously in Montenegro).
Back in Risan, we spend most of our time sorting out the marketing side of the Montenegro Green Building Council. The members of the Marketing Committee had signally failed to do anything in terms of developing policy over the past year, so Anke generously agrees to take on the task. Several long days (and well into nights) later she produces a comprehensive set of policies, a promotional leaflet, and other material to take the GBC forward and allow us to talk sensibly to potential members.

We get an email from Professor Ljubomir Miščević, a friend whom we meet at the Passivhaus Tagungs, who is leading a 2-day seminar on passive houses at the Faculty of Architecture in Podgorica on 10 and 11. We had not been told about it, or invited, by GIZ (the new name for GTZ) who arranged and paid for the event, and go up to Podgorica to pop in and greet Ljubomir. We are seriously offended by the lack of thought (at best – at worst one could argue it is deliberate ignoring of our work on promoting the passive house concept) by the folk in the GIZ energy efficiency section, and make our feelings felt to the country director