To�e Proeski, the megastar from FYR Macedonia who represented his country at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2004, was buried with full state and religious honours on Wednesday in his hometown of Kru�evo, about 170 kilometres south of the capital Skopje.
Tens of thousands of fans gathered from across the country in tribute to the singer who was killed in a car accident in Croatia. The government declared Wednesday a day of national mourning and awarded him the title of honorary citizen of FYR Macedonia.
Nobody hid their tears, which were uncontrollably shed by his closest colleagues and friends as they placed flowers on his coffin. Toše’s girlfriend, handball player Andrijana Budimir, and his manager Ljiljana Petrović had to be physically dragged away from the coffin. The young singer’s body, at the request of his parents, had been transported by helicopter to Skopje from Zagreb, before being driven in a large cavalcade to Kruševo. The funeral was broadcast live on national television, with radio and TV stations played his songs throughout the day. President of FYR Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski where among the mourners who filed past the flag draped coffin.Gruevski said: “He brought back values and hope to this country, with a path of success paved with strong will and love. Toše died as he had lived – with a dream for a better world.”
"We are mourning because we have lost our best, the most talented young man whose voice made FYR Macedonia well known. We have lost him at a time when we need more people like Toše and his grace," Archbishop Stefan, head of the country's Orthodox Church, said at Wednesday's service.
Ms. Hongwei Gao UNICEF Country Representative said; “The children of the country have lost a sincere friend in Toše Proeski,” said. “Not only did he entertain children with his magical voice, he also spoke out for them and with them. He was the country’s National Ambassador who advocated tirelessly for children.”
Toše Proeskiserved his postwith passion and sincerity. He held numerous humanitarian concerts and fundraising events for children with disabilities and for the rehabilitation of the children’s clinic in Skopje. His personal commitment and charisma helped to increase the awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention among young people throughout the Balkans, where HIV positive people are still discriminated against.
Other mourners included the US ambassador Jillian Milanović, and the EU special representative Erban Feuer as well as Toše’s friend and one-time duet partner Tony Cetinski, who represented Croatia at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. His death has also been felt hard in Croatia, where there will be a service of thanksgiving for his life in Zagreb this Sunday. A book of condolences opened at the Macedonian embassy there has already been signed by many great names from the Croatian music world, including the 2005 Eurovision Song Contest representative Boris Novković.
Tragically, Toše chose to be driven to Zagreb rather than to go by aeroplane, as he had always been nervous about flying, despite having flown before.