Dan and ЈУСТИНИЈАН I
The day before we left for our Balkan vacation, I received a call from an expat friend of mine. She told me that she was being expelled as she had overstayed her visa. The day before she had gone to the airport to catch a flight to Vienna; at the airport, the Macedonian Immigration Officer counted the days that she had been in Macedonia. As with me, her days in Macedonia far exceed the rule of no more than 90 days within a 180-day period. She missed that flight, and after interrogating her for a couple of hours and many calls by her to people in authority, Macedonian Immigration expelled her from the country ordering her to leave the very next day.
Before her call, I had become complacent in my efforts to become a legal resident in Macedonia. After many, many exits and entries with no one noticing the total days that I have been here, I believed it unlikely that anyone would ever notice.
For our Balkan vacation, we crossed the border from Macedonia into Albania with no problems. We returned two weeks later crossing from Kosovo into Macedonia. Again, no problems. But, spurred into action by my friend's experience, last week I assembled all the documents and their translations as specified last time by the woman at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOI). Friday, I went to the MOI. I arrived at 12:30 pm and discovered that the office is open only from 9 am to 12:30 pm. Today, I returned with Dan who wanted to inquire about an extension of his resident visa which expires on November 14, 2012.
The same MOI woman took my package of documents and looked at Dan's resident visa card. She said I cannot apply for a card unless the term of Dan's resident card is for one year. She said she told us about that requirement the last time we were in. She did not!
So, it is a Catch-22 for us/me. We have just 3 months left to be in Macedonia, I have overstayed my tourist visa by 6 months, and I cannot get a card.
Dan has issues because his INCOMPETENT Macedonian lawyer proceeded as if Dan was an employee working in Macedonia and earning a salary here. Dan is a volunteer and while his living expenses are reimbursed, he receives no money in Macedonia. The Department of Labor wanted him to submit information showing that health care insurance, taxes, etc were being withheld from a Macedonian salary. Since he is not an employee, he couldn't comply with the document request.
Also, last week I met our landlady once again at the Police Station to register my presence in Macedonia. Because I don't have a resident card, I must report to the Police Station with my landlady within 48 hours of entrance into Macedonia. This time, the officer was very bureaucratic even checking in his prior book for my last registration. He also informed me that I was in violation because I had not advised the Police that I was leaving Macedonia within 24 hours of my departure. I have been here since January 12, and this is the first time anyone has advised me of this departure notice requirement.
September 8 was Independence Day in Macedonia. A new statue complex, which includes an eternal flame, was opened for unidentified Macedonian Fallen Heros. The first statue is of Prometheus. Prometheus caused quite a bit of trouble initially because he was buck naked. Citing a complaint from unspecified women's organizations, the government directed the artist to cover the offending body part. Now Prometheus wears a golden diaper.
Behind Prometheus, is a doorway to eternity leading to the eternal flame and beyond to the winged goddess symbolizing victory. In the middle portion of the complex is a second doorway topped by 4 golden horses. Above the doorway are the Latin words for immortality, freedom and justice. The words are etched into the marble. That is unfortunate because the Latin word for justice, JUSTITA, is misspelled "JUSTICA." The artist should have stuck with Cyrillic lettering as used on the statue of Justinian. In that case, although he would not have been able to read his own name, Macedonians can.