BALKANiA is a Balkan Association for Alternative Tourism focused on local sustainable economic development through alternative forms of tourism in macro sectors identified as: - Natural Tourism - Cultural Tourism - Rural Tourism - Sport Tourism

About us

BALKANIA is an association for Balkan Alternative Tourism and its activities include realization of projects in the field of alternative tourism which enable the promotion of Macedonia and the entire Balkan region as an attractive tourist destination with exceptional natural, historical, cultural and anthropological heritage. In addition to that, it focuses on projects and activities that help foster human capacity development in the field of tourism.

About us

Full legal name (National Language): Full legal name (English):
А.Б.А.Т. – Скопје БАЛКАНИЈА- Балканска асоцијација за алтернативен туризам   

Web page:

Facebook page:


Contact phone: +389 78 33 71 71 +389 71 30 94 97

A.B.A.T. – Skopje BALKANIA – Balkan Association of Alternative Tourism   

Type of Organization: NGO

Acronym: A.B.A.T. BALKANIA

PIC Number: 940833071

National ID: 6478913

Address: Str. Leninova No. 24
Post Code : 1000
City: Skopje
Region: Centar

Tax Number : 4080009502872

PADOR Number: MK-2016-BYR-311009023


About us:

BALKANIA is an association for Balkan Alternative Tourism active in tourism and development projects. We are registered in Macedonia as a non-profit NGO.

Our mission is to establish good publicity of the Balkan countries; identify, support and promote the cultural, rural and natural tourism of the member states through joint actions and coordinated partnerships and promote the entire Balkan region as a tourist destination.

Our vision is positive image of the Balkan region and good publicity in the eyes of the world, strong and sustainable tourism sector and joint act of the Balkan countries on the global travel market.

The name of the association BALKANIA, was chosen to sound like a name of an imaginary land on the territory that naturally conjoins 12 countries so distinct, yet sharing exceptional natural, historical, cultural and anthropological heritage.

BALKANIA initiates and supports many tourism activities on local level. One of primary goals is to develop a structure standing for alternative tourism. We identified the macro sectors of our interest as: natural, rural tourism, cultural tourism. The efforts of the association are aimed at networking between sectors and countries on Balkan as well as on European level. We are channelling energy to connect the Balkan countries and promote its exceptional natural, historical, cultural and anthropological heritage of the whole geographic region represented by the hospitality of their population

The head office of BALKANIA is in Skopje- Macedonia, we’ve registered a branch in Sofia, Bulgaria, and we’re aiming at opening branch offices in all capitals of Balkan countries by 2025.

BALKANIA has intensive collaboration with the stakeholders as National Agency for Promotion and Support of Tourism in Macedonia, Ministry of Economy, Rural municipalities from most Balkan countries, Universities and faculties, entrepreneurs in tourism sector and NGOs.

The structure of our organization is consisted of Founders, Experts collaborators, Active volunteers and membership holders. The founders of the Association are relevant tourist workers from Macedonia, Bulgaria and Italy.

Mr. Vlado Srbinovski – President (Macedonia)
Mr. Fabio Cotifava – Honor President (Italy)
Mss. Emilia Kalaydzieva – Member of the board ( Bulgaria)
Mr. Bayko Baykov – Member of the board (Bulgaria)

The team of Expert collaborators counts 8 dedicated partners working on our current projects with expertise in the fields tourism, agriculture, business, project management, strategy planning and other relevant topics.

The team of active volunteers counts 11 young people studding and gaining experience in tourism, agriculture and other related fields, some of them active youth workers.

Membership holders Partners in Balkans are structures in the field of tourism from all Balkan countries. Individuals and tourist guides, travel agencies, hotels, NGOs, associations, tourist chambers, faculties, municipalities, from 8 countries in the Balkan region

Meet the work team in the later section of this document.

Participation in EC projects in the past 5 years:

EU Programme Year Project title and Number Proj.Number Coordinator
Lifelong learning programme Leonardo da Vinci – Mobility   

Award from NA : Best Practice in 2014

2013 Strengthening the Capacities of BALKANIA to Promote Agritorism MKLLP-   

LDV-A.2.4- 2013-00

Coordinator :   

A.B.A.T.- BALKANIA – Skopje

Partner :

American Farm School – Greece

Erasmus+ KA1 2015 YOUth CREAtive Tourism Environment -YOU CREATE 2015-1- BG01- KA105- 013520 Coordinator : Сдружение “Клъстер туризъм”- Bulgaria   

Partner : A.B.A.T.- BALKANIA – Skopje

Erasmus+ KA1 2015/2016 Albergo Diffuso- 2015-1- Coordinator :
Award from NA: Best Practice in 2016   Learning about culture, tradition and languages through new forms of sustainable tourism MK01- KA104- 002751 A.B.A.T. BALKANIA – Balkan Association of Alternative Tourism Partner : AMFI Italy
Erasmus+ KA1 2015 Mobility for success/ Мобилност за успех 2015-2- BG01- KA105- 014587 Coordinator: Фондация “Месембри” Bulgaria   

Partner: A.B.A.T.- BALKANIA – Skopje

Erasmus+ KA1 2016 “ JUST DO IT “ 2016-1- PL01- KA105- 024137 Coordinator: Górniczy Klub Sportowy GÓRNIK -Poland   

Partner: A.B.A.T.- BALKANIA – Skopje

Sport For All 2015   

-Collaborative Partnerships (Other topics- Approaches to contain violence and tackle racism and intolerance in sport)

2016 – 2017   

18 month



(Participant partners from 8 countries) Partner: A.B.A.T.- BALKANIA – Skopje

Current project : 2016 –   


30 month

ECVET ENS 2.0     



No : 2016- 1-MK01- KA202- 021665

Coordinator :
KA2 Action: Strategic Partnerships for vocational education and Recognition and validation of learning outcomes and qualifications in nature- based and rural tourism sector in A.B.A.T. BALKANIA – Balkan   

Association of Alternative Tourism


6 Partners : Participant from 4 countries – Macedonia, Italy, Austria,


Cooperation for



the framework of the   

European Credit

innovation and System for Vocational
the exchange of good practices 31.05.2019 Education and   

Training (ECVET)

Current approved 2017-2019 “ INOViMENTOR “ 2017 – Coordinator : Aegean University of
project Generating SME 2019 Athens
application of INTEREG – IPA   

Cross Border programme

product and process   

innovation with a new

tourism mobility model, stakeholder alliances and skills

Partners from : Greece, Bulgaria , Macedonia, Cyprus, Albania
“Balkan Mediteranean “   alliances to facilitate the market uptake of local enterprises in remote and sparsely populated areas.    



1. „GOLDEN MASK ” – 2010 National Award for BALKANIA – Annual Manifestation for success in THE WORLD OF SUCCESS in different issues – Award for BALKANIA was for activity in the field of tourism Award for success in tourism 2010 (national level )

2. Best practice – Leonardo da Vinci – Mobility projects – MKLLP-LDV-A.2.4-2013-00 in Macedonia for 2014 for ( Adult )
BALKANIA was awarded from National Agency for implementation Lifelong learning programme
Leonardo da Vinci – Mobility Project : Strengthening the Capacities of BALKANIA to Promote Agritorism

3. Best practice – K1 projects 2015-1-MK01-KA104-002751 in Macedonia for 2016
BALKANIA was awarded from National Agency for implementation Erasmus + project

4. Best Practice in 2016 Albergo Diffuso – Learning about culture, tradition and languages through new innovative forms of sustainable tourism
BALKANIA is recognized by the tourism sector and is in constant cooperation with tourism entities, local self-governments in several municipalities and cooperates with state institutions. Participates in debates, public debates and local and international conferences.


Balkania is recognized by the media and very often participates on all national TV channels in shows in the field of tourism where it exhibits its views, initiatives and projects. BALKANIA organized and implemented many local projects, activities and happenings, of which we’d like to list the following:

– Balkan Forum for Alternative tourism (participants from 8 countries) in Skopje and Berovo

Objectives: development and integration of alternative tourism of the Balkans, accenting project cooperation and employment of young people in tourism. Promotion of Berovo’s potentials as a tourism destination. Results: Accommodation and hospitality capacities were presented, local authorities show their willing to support the alternative tourism, 67 participators from Macedonia and Bulgaria

– Bazaar of handcrafts (co-organized with NGO Denica): “Christmas Bazaar–2010 Skopje“; (57 stands with handcrafts and souvenirs). Participation and promotion of young artisans.Objectives: to help in preserving and taking care of traditional crafts, promoting the potentials of handcrafts maker in souvenir selling, also promotion of traditional Macedonian craft .Results: 54 participators 7 different stands with traditional food, more then 5000 visitors, positive reportages on TV and newspapers

– 8 March Craft Bazaar: “Women is the bastion of tradition” ( 34 stand with souvenirs and handcrafts). Participation of young people, especially female.
Objectives: Promotion of traditional handcrafts and supporting opportunities for self-employment of young people.

– Ohrid International Tourism Fair – ( Balkania was Coorganizer with Agency for support and promotion of tourism of Macedonia ),
Objectives: As partner, Balkania had responsibility to organize Forum for alternative tourism and B2B meetings within the frame of Ohrid Tourism FairResults: new Macedonian strategy for tourism development was presented as well as supportive package like subventions for the foreign tourists. B2B matches were made between Macedonian hoteliers and Bulgarian, Serbian and Italian tour operators. Guests has quick tour over South-East Macedonia with Balkania’s guides.

– “Eco – Etno village Babino“ – Project to develop all village – tourist destination Balkania has made a contract with the Municipality of Demir Hisar to transform a building in the village BABINO in a regional educative center for rural development and rural tourism.
The undertaken activities led to founding family businesses in the field of tourism and employing young people and the vulnerable group of women above 40 and men above 50 years old. These will successes an economy and social cohesiveness.

– GREENING THE BALKAN ECONOMIES ” Conference of Balkan Green Vlado Srbinovski present Balkania association and promote big touristic potentials of the Balkan’s countries for green employments

– See Net Program – Participated in international education project.

– International “ Fair of souvenirs and handicrafts Bečidi “ Balkania participed with 12 participant
Balkania at 5 stands participate of the international fair of souvenirs and handcraft in Becici – Budva – Montenegro and presented souvenirs ,handcrafts and traditional food from Macedonia

“Prepare Gathering -2010 “ Conference in Ohrid – Macedonia

“Prepare Gathering -2011 “ Conference in Zlatibor Serbia
More than 120 participant from rural- network from 22 countries (Partnership from rural Europe)
Investigation the ways of sustainable and balanced rural development Balkania lead workshop of Sustainable rural tourism

– BALKAN VISION SUMMIT for Sustainable Development – Bitola
Participants from 7 countries met on the preparatory meeting in Bitola for the “First Balkan Summit 2014 for Sustainable Development”. A coordinative two day meeting determined the preparations of the First Summit- Vision for sustainable development. Balkania was participant, coordinator and initiator for organization of the summit in Macedonia which also includes participants from Germany, Netherlands, Austria and Albania.


– Culinary events, promoting Slow food and other ways of preserving the traditional food as cultural feature that is important in alternative tourism: Traditional receipts exchange-cereal, nettle Traditional recipes exchange (events: Grandmother day, Bread day, Promotion of Maleševo Traditional dishes, Macedonian dishes from King Marko period): In these events older people exchange their experience in preparing tipical and traditional food with young people , exibit the prepared food in restorants and have degustation together with some of the guests in the restaurants: Results : More then 50 home cooked dishes were prepared presented and served 72 guests

– “Grandmothers Day” from 2011 to 2015 Balkania supported the participation of Slow Food Vodno in the international initiative celebrating the wisdom and culinary excellence of our grandmothers. 20 students of hospitality highIn these events we include the “Lazar Tanev “ School from Skopje and students (more than 20 ) prepare most of the food in the school’s cuisine. A book with grandma’s recipes is in progress of preparation and will include around 100 different meals preapering by recepies of the grandmothers.

– Pumpkin day – a gourmet festival in Skopje for promotion and exchange of recipes prepared with pumpkin as a main ingredient. 12 recipes shared, prepared and tasted by 150 attendees.

– Promotion of traditional Macedonian dishes – Jance “Hotel Tuto”, Mavrovo National Park (150 participants)
Objectives: Promotion of traditional local dishes . Gastronomy tourism as a part of alternative tourism. 20 different local dishes were prepared , presented and served to 60 guests who enjoy the food and the manifestation

– Bread Festival – Humanitarian event in Skopje for promotion of the bread. Every year we organize an auction of bread and the funds from the auction are donated to children with special needs. The event brings together children with special needs from the school “St. Naum“ Skopje and children from the chef high school “Lazar Tanev” Skopje in organization and preparation of certain types of bread.

– Promotion of Maleševo Traditional dish ( Promotion of 35 different dishes )Objectives: Promotion of Berovo’s potentials as a tourism destination. Results: Accommodation and hospitality capacities were presented, local authorities show their willing to support the alternative tourism, 67 participators from Macedonia and Bulgaria, possibilities for the mutual cross-boarding co-operation was presented, potential partners has been Matched, the issue of unfinished cross-boarding point Klepalo was presented and decision for lobbing was made. Mediums find out new destination and promotion has been started

– Mainz: Participation on Tourism and Crafts Fair, Germany Objectives: Promotion of Macedonia as tourist destination Results: 2-day on mutual Balkan stand, lot of interested public, more then 200 promotion brochures were given, presentation of Macedonian traditional drink – rakija, and traditional handcrafts

– Co organizer of „Eco-Etno Macedonia fair” in Skopje

– Development of cultural tourism – Conference and Fair in Veliko Trnovo – Bulgaria to promote concept all “Balkan – Unique Tourist destination ” An exclusive promotion of edit Balkania -book about Balkan’s cultural heritage that features all UNESCO cultural heritage sites in all Balkan countries.

– Macedonian Slow Food network: Youth food network & National Slow food network. Balkania played an important role in the creation of several convivia of Slow Food and in creating the national network of Slow Food, especially the Youth Movement – youth network which includes several young members from Balkania.

– „BALKAN FLAVORS” – 29-30 May 2015-Sofia, Bulgaria. Balkania has organized the event „BALKAN FLAVORS”
For presentation of the tourism offer of the Balkans through gastronomy. The event was organized as part of the „Festival of elite wines”. Main goals of the event: To be established as a major channel for promotion of high quality tourist attractions in the eno-gastronomy at international level. These attractions are in line with the latest trends in customer demands that are more strongly oriented towards the need of deep knowledge of the history and traditions of the destination. This is accomplished by meetings with local residents and immersion in the authentic atmospheres of their life, by feeling the tastes and flavors of their land. To create a B2B platform at which the local operators who offer culinary tourist attractions will meet the representatives of the real business that have direct access to distribution networks worldwide. To provide year-round international visibility of exhibitors by promoting their products at some of the most reputable world tourist and agencies and tour operators offering cultural sightseeing tours to international imitating markets, branch associations and associations in the tourism sector, foreign tourists, travelling through Sofia during the exhibition, opinion makers in the tourism sector and eno-gastronomy: journalists and bloggers, representatives of the public sector. Balkania is also active in publishing works that complement the education and work in alternative tourism. Through the years, we’ve created, published and promoted few books, including:

– „DA SE CHUDISH KADE SI „ Together with National Macedonian TV chanel Balkania tape 6 reportage „Da se chudish kade si „ ( 45 minute each ) were organized and taped about the rural region in Macedonia to promote tourist possibilities in rural areas and presented Cultural heritage ,naturel beauty , typical arhitecture and traditional food. Trough the National TV programe was promote the tipical macedonian tourist destination : Berovo , Babino , Dihovo , Krkljino ,Pelister , Malovishte

– Edition : Tourist Guide „ for Macedonia in Italian language Creation of new tool for the Italian tour operators in order to enlarge number of Italian tourists as well as to introduce Macedonian tourism potentials in front of Italian tourist service providers. Results: First tourist guide for Macedonia on Italian language. The guide was delivered free of charge to Italian tour operators to help them to starting offering Macedonia as a tourist destination. The 2000 guides was delivered free of charge to Italian tour operators and agencies to help them to starting promoting and offering Macedonia as a tourist destination. Big interest from Ministry of Economy, Agency for support and promotion of tourism, mediums, general public. Agency for Support and promotion of tourism of Macedonia reedit the guide and use for promotion the country in tourist fairs in Europe . Decision for the starting of Balkan tourist guide on Italian language were made as well as to translate this guide to other European languages such as Holland (embassy is ready to participate in translation). Sponsor from Italy interested in investments to Macedonia

– Edition – Photo Book- “ Discover Balkan with us…”
An exclusive book that features all UNESCO cultural heritage sites in all Balkan countries. The e-book version of this photo book is available for free download on our website.

– Guidebook on starting up a family business in Agritourism Strengthening the Capacities of BALKANIA to Promote Agritorism, task of Project: LIFELONG LEARNING PROGRAMME – LEONARDO DA VINCI MOBILITY in which 13 people members of BALKANIA finished educative program in AFS – American Farm School in Greece and got EU – Certificates: Trainer for Agritourism. The guidebook is their joint work and tool for further training in agritourism. Experience with sports, and active tourism:

– Vlado Srbinovski- President of the Balkans (as Project Manager) designed the project management of the Agency for Promotion and Support of Tourism of Macedonia to develop paragliding Tourism in Macedonia. Project in cooperation with USAID was implemented in 2015 Which shaped seats for takeoff and landing of paragliding enthusiasts at 3 locations with the best conditions for paragliding sport. After establishing a set for take-off and landing in Krusevo from this project in the same year it held Paragliding World Cup in the following year (2016) European Championship in paragliding

– “Healthy Lifestyle” In 2016. We participated in a project of KA1 program “Healthy Lifestyle” in mobility to exchange good practices and activities for acquiring new skills in Poland.

– “ National network of Hiking Mountain trails“ – Macedonia
The project is in the segment “Activities in nature” as a significant part according to potentials of Macedonia. The project includes completion of existing and creating new network of hiking, mountain trails throughout the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. Vlado Srbinovski – Project Manager

The project was implemented APPTRM – Agency for Promotion and Support of Tourism of Macedonia, in cooperation with the Agency for Rural Development within the Ministry of Agriculture, and was conducted in collaboration with the Federation of Mountain Sports. The project edited network of 184 new hiking trails (3,900 km.). The project activities are arranged, stamp down all paths. The slopes are set maps for each track (with a description of the track) were marked with signs and make GPS marking for each track individually. In arranging the projected paths together 55 hiking associations that regulate slopes and signed a contract with the agency to care for and maintain, the next 5 years establishing a network of paths. The project was completed with the implementation level of 70-80%.

Analogous to this project Mr. Srbinovski prepare project application submitted to the Agency for Rural Development of Macedonia and now ongoing evaluation of the application, and is expected to be approved for the establishment of a new network of “Mounting Bike” trails. The project is intended to regulate the new 109 “Mounting Bike” paths (4.130 km.)

 FESTIVAL OF ENJOYMENT AND HEALTY LIFE “ , Popova Šapka ,festival in with different contents : Hiking, exhibition of Shara- mountain pictures, boldering , work shops, mount bike marathon 86 km, exhibition of traditional food . Create and managing : Festival “ LET’S RIDE TROGH THE MOUNTAINE SHARA “ ( Да шараме по Шара “ ) – Popova Šapka ( 4 day festival offering different content : Hiking, exhibition of Shara- mountain pictures, bouldering , work shops, mount bike and “Daunt Hill” – competition , marathon 86 km. exhibition of traditional food. Objectives: Promotion of the Shara mountain region as summer tourism destination as well as new mountain bike path. Promotion of alternative tourism as value added product which preserves natural and ecological conditions of this region. Results: 86 km path was set up and declared to the national classification of mountain bike destinations. 314 bikers participated in the Sharski vodi competition, and more than 2000 windings and general public from diplomatic, governmental and media spheres actively participated and gave positive feedback.


Other projects, activities and experience of your organization


-“ALBERGO DIFUSSO “ – Learning about new forms of sustainable tourism “
Α.Β.Α.Τ. – ΒΑΙΚΑΝΙΑ – BaIkan Association for AIternative Tourism in the development of the MobiIity Project – Albergo Diffuso-Learning about culture, tradition and languages throught new forms of sustainable tourism ERAZMUS + KA1 Project : 2015-1-MK01-KA104-002751
(Adult education staff mobility) within the framework of the Erasmus + programme. Albergo Difusso – Learning about new forms of sustainable tourism in Italy, about the innovative concept Albergo Diffuso, This concept is unique and developed in Italy and later Discovering Albergo Diffuso experience: more than a tourism attraction adopted by few other countries.


– Skopje Touristic Summer : Balkania created a project with which the natural and cultural heritage of Macedonia was promoted to the domestic tourists. The project consisted of one day trips from Skopje to different destinations through the country, by bus each week and with the cost of any normal route. Students from the Faculty of Tourism were included in this project and they participated in the organisation and managing the one day trips through Macedonia which provided them with experience and practical training in their field. In the period of 3 years, 12 students participated in the organization of those trips which helped them turn their theoretical skills into practical work. From 4 years implementation of this project organized trips to various destinations included more than 4,000 travelers. Along with a national television channel ALFA TV (@ – TV) every Friday announced the agenda and promoted the trip which was realized in a non-working day (week or sometimes Saturday)


Meet the team:
1. Vlado Srbinovski – PresidentSpeaks: English, French , Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian   

Past experience: Economist • Private Entrepreneur

• 6 years continually Advisor in Governmental Agency APPTRM – Agency for support and promotion of the Tourism of Macedonia)

• Consultant in APPM – Governmental Agency for support of the entrepreneurship in Macedonia

• Consultant in Tourism and Hotel management EBRD Business

Personal characteristics and skills: High communication skills • good negotiating skills • Team leader • Integrator •

– CBIB How to prepare quality IPA application – advanced level
– Certificate of attendance of TACSO program training: Technical assistance for Civil Society Organization

(Strategic management and managing IPA project)
– Certificate: Capacity building, planning and strategic management,
– Project management and preparation of EU applications
– Training for consultants: Organized by EBRD Business Advisory Service (BAS) EU Programme
– Certificate – Consultant in Tourism and Hotel management
– American Farm School – Perotis College: Strengthening the capacity to Promote Agritourism

– EU Certificate – Trainer for Agrtuourism
– ”Leadership Academy Program” – Three module academy of the EC
– USAID and ATTA – Adventure Trade Travel Association Training Certificate


2. Elena Rizova – Member / assistant coordinator

Speaks: English, Italian

Ms Elena Rizova holds a BA in Italian language and literature with American Studies. She has a significant experience working on international and EU projects as project assistant, communication officer and translation team manager. Besides working on project management and implementation, she has also knowledge of the IT technology and knows how to use many IT tools in her everyday work, resulting of her work on many IT related project. Regarding this project she will be involved actively in providing effective communication between the project’s partners, but also in the researches for providing tourism related information.
In 2010, she was engaged as project assistant and translator/interpreter for the EU funded project “Drafting of ToR for TA to implementation of the Roma Strategy” for the benefit of the EU Delegation in Skopje during which worked for Mr. Ionel Chera, Senior Expert and subcontractor of AESA Consortium, Brussels- Belgium.
Ms Rizova was project manager for the localization project of Siebel CRM from English into Macedonian during its implementation at T-Mobile Macedonia. Her work included translation of the software, supervision and control of the translation work of other team members, writing reports to T-‐System Program Manager (represented by 3C Consult) for a CRM program at MakTel & T-Mobile MK in Macedonia.
Ms Rizova also is active as youth worker and in the past has worked for youth centers as the network of youth educational centers “Vavilon”in Skopje and the youth center “Kreaktiv”in Kavadarci .


3. Leonida Penka Bassa Rizaova – Member / Assistant manager

Speaks: English, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croatian

– Bachelor degree in Tourism Management at Faculty of Tourism – University of Tourism and Management Skopje – UTMS
– Co-founder of Hiking the Balkans, creator of cross-border hiking itineraries and supporter of networking in the adventure travel in 10 Balkan countries
– Official Tourist Guide – Licence #152
– Project assistant and coordinator of project activities in Balkania: Agriturism, Albergo Difuso, Sport4all, most events organized by Balkania in the period 2011 – 2017.
– Participation in 11 Erasmus+, LdV and other international cooperation projects involving mobility.

Certifications attained:

EU certified Trainer for agritourism start-ups • Leadership Training Program – NGO Momentum and British Council (held in London and Doncaster/Sheffield, UK) • TAIEK – Workshop about rural tourism development, organised by the EU and Ministry of Economy of Macedonia. • Promoters training organised by USAID’s SEA project • ”Leadership Academy Program” – Three module academy of the EC



Thank you for the time and attention for going through the brief presentation of Balkania. Please connect with us for more information and future collaboration:

Web page:

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Contact phone: +389 71 30 94 97 +389 78 33 71 71


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