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International recognition of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 was delayed by Greece's objection to the new state's use of what it considered a Hellenic name and symbols. Greece finally lifted its trade blockade in 1995, and the two countries agreed to normalize relations, despite continued disagreement over FYROM's use of "Macedonia." FYROM's large Albanian minority and the de facto independence of neighbouring Kosovo continue to be sources of ethnic tension.

Update No: 059

The Macedonians were the poorest of the former Yugoslavians. They then suffered gravely from the wars waged by Serbia, by far their most important trading partner. Still Milosevic is out and a new era dawns.
The government in Skopje is really concerned to advance its cause with Brussels. It wants to become part of the European family of nations.
The Albanians are hoping for a flow of aid, as are the Macedonians. A donors' conference for Macedonia was organised by the World Bank and the EU and set for March 12th. The government urgently needs 190mn Euros (US$163mn) for its budget and another 45mn Euros of reconstruction aid, say EU officials. If the West cannot carry the burden of rebuilding a small, but vitally placed nation in the Balkans, then it has little chance of successful nation- building elsewhere.
The Macedonians have greatly benefited from the anti-terrorist campaign since 9:11. There is still a serious security problem in the republic. The top ranking NATO force- commanders have committed themselves to keeping their 700 troops, led by Germany in the troubled Balkan republic after the 'Amber Fox' mission ends in March. Amber Fox provides security for EU monitors supervising the return of refugees to towns and villages after last year's fighting.
This will not necessarily mean an end to an EU role. Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, and Spain, holders of the rotating EU presidency, want to take over a commanding position in military operations in Macedonia as part of the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).
The US, dominant in NATO, is averse to the ESDP of the EU, which, it fears, portends a lessening of its hegemony over transatlantic military matters. It is almost certainly wrong, given its stupendous lead in technology and financial clout. But a showdown between the US and the EU on the issue is imminent, being fought by proxy (as is the US's wont these days with all its wars) between those responsible for NATO forces and for potential ESDP ones on the ground in tiny Macedonia. 
An ugly situation was defused in early autumn. Unfortunately it is by no means certain yet that the worst is over.
Unidentified members of the National Liberation Army (UCK), the former ethnic Albanian secessionist movement, whose voluntary disbandment in the autumn raised hopes of a permanent end to discord, issued a threatening statement in mid- January. This has not been retracted publicly, although NATO officers hope the affair will blow over.
The statement indicated that certain disbanded members "will organise and reactivate their units" in preparation for renewed clashes with Macedonian forces. The statement was not made by any leader of UCK and came as a surprise to many of its former members. But there are obviously discontented elements still around among the Albanians in Macedonia, who comprise about a third of the population.
The insurgency of the rebels began in February 2001 and lasted for nine months. It ended after more than 100 people were killed, including 60 from the Macedonian security forces, mainly due to the trust the Albanians came to repose in NATO, which had after all helped their kith and kin in Kosovo in 1999. The militia disbanded in September 2001 after a peace agreement granted the Albanians more rights. But clearly some feel that this has not been implemented fully enough.
In mid-January the ethnic Albanian underground group, Albanian National Army (AKSH), announced its intention to mount new offensives. AKSH representatives noted that the Macedonian security forces had been receiving reinforcements from Serbia, Russia, Ukraine and Croatia. They also accused the Slav-Macedonian fraction of the Skopje government of "legalising paramilitary units under the umbrella of the Orthodox church." This is quite likely to be true.
In early March the police had a shoot-out with terrorists, killing seven of them, probably al-Qaeda ones from the Middle East or Central Asia linked to the militant wing of UCK or some other fanatical group, such as AKSH. 
It was never going to be easy to bring about a permanent concord between the mainly Muslim Albanians and the Orthodox Slavs. But at least a coalition government is in place, with elements from both communities. The international community needs to remain deeply involved, as in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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Greek company moves closer to completing oil pipeline to Macedonia

"Thessaloniki complex 'Hellenic Petroleum' carried out the final work on the project for the oil pipeline from Skopje-Thessaloniki," the director of refinery ELPET Balkaniki, Yorgos Halvanogu, stated at the press conference in Thessaloniki on 1st March, MIA News Agency has reported. 
Hellenic Petroleum and AEG invested their own US$60m and a US$50m loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the oil pipeline. The entire project costs US$110m. Additional expenses amounted to US$20m for both reservoirs, in which the oil will be collected via the pipes that are 7km long from the tankers in the port, after which it will be transferred through the oil pipeline to OKTA refinery in Skopje. 
This project envisages that the transport expenses will be decreased to US$21 per tonne from the current US$25 per tonne. It is also envisaged that 2.5m tonnes of crude oil per year to be transported through the oil pipeline, 1.5m of which are intended for our market, while the rest is planned for Kosovo.
"The completion of the project for the oil pipeline is envisaged for the end of April," the OKTA Director Petros Karalis stated. 
According to Karalis, the project, which is of international character, had begun in November 1999, while the agreement envisaged that it will be completed within 36 months from the signing day.

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Al-Mak Flower to take on Rockwell Medical Technologies distribution

Rockwell Medical Technologies Inc., a leading hemodialysis concentrate manufacturer in the healthcare industry, has entered into a exclusive distribution agreement with Al-Mak Flower Inc. for the sale and distribution of its Dri-Sate Dry Acid Concentrate Mixing System and its Bicarbonate Power Concentrate in Macedonia, New Europe has reported.
The agreement calls for Al-Mak Flower Inc. to be the exclusive sales agent and distributor for Rockwell Medial Technologies Inc. in Macedonia for a period of three years. Al-Mak Flower Inc. will purchase minimum amounts of Rockwell's Dri-Sate Dry Acid concentrate and Bicarbonate Powder Concentrate over 36 months. Purchase volumes are anticipated to total a minimum of US$1m during the term of the contract, a press release informed.
Robert L Chioini, chairman, CEO and president of Rockwell Medical Technologies, Inc. stated: "We are pleased to have Al-Mak Flower represent us in Macedonia. They are a high-calibre distributor through whom we anticipate securing additional distribution agreements. We continue to see increased demand for Rockwell's dry concentrate product line outside of the US and we expect to increase our international market presence going forward."
Rockwell recently reported that it has signed exclusive worldwide, proprietary licensing agreements to market water-soluble iron through its Dialysate.
The company believes that this innovation will represent a major advancement in the treatment of anaemia in the hemodialysis patients.
Rockwell Medical Technologies Inc., is an innovative leader in manufacturing, marketing and delivering high-quality dialysis solutions, powders and ancillary products to hemodialysis providers. Its Dri-Sate Dry Acid Concentrate provides substantial distribution synergies and operating efficiencies over traditional contrite delivery in large drums of liquid.
Its gamma-irradiated SteriLyte™ Liquid Bicarbonate Product Line provides extended shelf life and safety giving its customers an added degree of security.
Recently Rockwell introduced a full line of high quality blood tubing manufactured by Nipro Medical Corporation.
The incidence of end state renal disease (ESRD) has increased six to eight per cent on average each year over the last decade.
Rockwell's products are used to cleanse the ESRD patient's blood and replace nutrients in the bloodstream. Rockwell offers Dri-Sate Acid, Liqud Acid, SteriLyte™ Liquid Bicarbonate, Blood Tubing Sets, Fistula Needles and a wide range of ancillary dialysis items.

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Macedonian minister in Slovenia to discuss link-up of stock exchanges

The Macedonian and Slovene stock exchanges are to be linked up by June at the earliest or September at the latest, enabling stocks to be traded between the two countries. This assessment came from Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski's intensive meetings in Ljubljana. Gruevski was a guest at the Slovene Finance Ministry, the stock exchange and the central stocks depository, MTV1 has reported. 
Gruevski said: "I met Finance Minister Anton Rop today, with whom we discussed the project to connect the two stock exchanges - a project on which we have been working for the past year. With us were the representatives of both sides, that is, from the two countries that I mentioned. We had intensive bilateral meetings. There were meetings between representatives of the two institutions, the two stock exchanges, the two central stock depositories and the two stock commissions, and we ended the talks with a joint meeting, at which we presented the problems and conditions for successfully completing the project. I believe that things are progressing well. According to our estimates, by June at the earliest or September at the latest, the two stock exchanges should be linked up, thus enabling Slovene stocks and bonds to be traded from Skopje and Macedonian stocks to be traded from Ljubljana. So, things are developing well. 
"In addition, I had a separate meeting with the finance minister, with whom we also discussed other financial issues. 
"I also visited the centre for electronic signature, electronic trade, electronic banking and electronic government - a project that we have initiated and Slovenia completed last year. In this respect, we asked for their support in helping us bring the latter to a successful completion within the next six to 12 months."

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Greek businessmen to invest in Macedonian ski centre

A €40m modern ski centre is to be built at Kozuv Mountain in south Macedonian with the participation of Greek businessmen, the mayor of Konopiste city has stated.
Fifty-two per cent of the investment will be made by Greek businessmen, the mayor told the Skopje newspaper, 'Dnevnik.'

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