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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: 063 (23/07/02)

Coming elections
Macedonia is facing elections on September 15th. Last September the particular event of 9:11 played an important role in bringing about peace between the ethnic Albanians and Macedonians. The Albanians rebels voluntarily dissolved their organisation under international pressure, placing their trust in NATO as during the Kosovo War of 1999.
But new tensions are emerging. The hardliners on the Macedonian side, the premier Ljupco Georgierswki, and interior minister, Ljube Boskovski, are still in place. Both are members of the ultra-nationalist VRMO-DPMNE party.
But their party has cooperated, with the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) under international pressure. The DPA is having problems with other Albanian political parties and also with the ex-leader of the National Liberation Army.
The trouble is that both VRMO-DPMNE and DPA are viewed locally as highly corrupt structures, whose criminal interests are dominating Macedonian political and economic life. Corruption is not exactly unknown in the Balkans.
The republic, the poorest in former Yugoslavia, is held together by the pressure of international involvement, the security provided by observers and 800 NATO troops and the lure of finance and FDI. Nobody really wants yet another tragic conflict in the Balkans.

The Boskovski factor
The key figure in many ways is Boskovski. War crime investigators want to put him on trial for complicity in atrocities against Albanians in 2001. Also in that year he set up the 'Lions,' a special police unit, exclusively ethnic Macedonian and consisting of VMRO-DPMNE party members. The international community wants the 1,200-force discharged, which he has refused to do.
If he is left alone, however, this would placate the Macedonian nationalists. So long as civil war does not break out again, the country is probably best left to its own devious devices. 

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Macedonia-Greece oil pipeline successfully tested, use begins 2nd July

The oil refinery, OKTA, confirmed on 24th June the information that the pipeline Skopje-Thessaloniki was put into operation on 22nd June, MIA News Agency has reported. 
After the successful testing the oil was set running through the pipeline from the oil reservoirs in Thessaloniki harbour towards the OKTA refinery in Miladinovci, Macedonia. The first oil was expected to arrive on 26th June. 
The formal inauguration of this pipeline will take place simultaneously both in Skopje and Thessaloniki on 2nd July. Governmental officials of Greece and Macedonia were expected to attend the formal opening of the pipeline.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) approved a credit in amount of US$50m (59m euros) for the building of this oil pipeline in December 2000...

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Macedonian foreign trade exchange in first quarter reported over US$919m 

Macedonian trade exchange with foreign countries in the period of January-April 2002 totalled US$919,055,000, MIA News Agency reported, quoting the State Statistic Bureau data. 
In this exchange, the exports were 36.1 per cent and the imports 63.9 per cent. The import-export coverage is 56 per cent, while the balance of the exchange is US$255,817,000 negative. 
Exports of "ready-made products" amounted to 34.4 per cent; "the products classified by materials" 28.8 per cent and "spirits and tobacco" 13 per cent. Imports comprised "machines and transport devices" at 20.9 per cent; "transactions and non-mentioned goods" 19.1 per cent and "mineral fuels and lubricants" 14.7 per cent. 
In this quarter, 54.7 per cent of Macedonian goods have been exported to EU member countries and 27.8 per cent to the former republics of Yugoslavia. 
A large part of the goods imported - 41.3 per cent, came the EU, with goods imported from the countries of Central and East Europe and from former Soviet Union following with 24 per cent per region. 
Compared to the same period in 2001, the exports to undeveloped countries have increased by 73.3 per cent and in developing countries by 63.7 per cent, while exports to other groups of countries have decreased. At the same time imports increased from all groups of countries except the undeveloped ones and member countries of EFTA [European Free Trade Association].

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Macedonia liberalises regulations on trade with Croatia

In compliance with agreement on amending a treaty on free trade between Croatia and Macedonia, the Macedonian government adopted a decision to endorse more liberal conditions for the exchange of agricultural-food products between the two countries, HINA News Agency has reported. The agreement came into force recently when it was advertised in the Macedonian Official Gazette. 
According to the changes Skopje adopted, all products that are not included in quotas can be imported without tariffs except fresh pork, sugar, wine and cut tobacco.
Some advantages are foreseen for products included in quotas as some were not listed because indications show that they did not require protection. This measure should improve bilateral trade exchanges.

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