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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 January 2002

The Macedonians are with difficulty keeping a new peace truce going. The leadership of the rebels' 'liberation army' has agreed to arms decommissioning and ordered its own demise. But to what extent rank and file troops are laying down arms is another matter.
The context has, nevertheless, changed. The doves on both sides are strengthened against the hawks. And the crisis in world security since 9:11 has a lot to do with it. The Albanian minority rebels are not at all anti-Western, quite the contrary, they know how much Albanians in Kosovo owed to Western intervention in 1999. They are not Islamic fundamentalists, nor terrorists either.
After weeks of hesitation, the parliament has acceded to constitutional amendments giving the Albanians more rights. The Macedonian leadership, notably that of President Boris Trajkovski, has shown statesmanship by acceding to the reasonable demands of the Albanians who will continue to be represented in the coalition government. A reshuffle in November still leaves the Albanian DPA and PDP with their same positions in government. A new recognition of language rights, of an Albanian university, of equal access to government posts, etc., has been accorded to them.
In mid-December an IMF donor conference was due in the capital, Skopje. A generous funding of the new government is highly likely, the West wanting to reward the moderates and the pacifists. Another dreadful Balkan war has been at the last minute averted.
Although the poorest of the former Yugoslav republics, Macedonia has its advantages. It abuts on Greece and has attracted a good deal of Greek investment. Indeed to the point that some in Skopje speak of a Greek take-over, given that Athens sees itself as the regional hegemon - as far into the Balkans as it can get.
What is needed is not for there to be less Greek investment, but more from elsewhere too. That could happen with a wide-ranging privatisation programme under preparation. Suddenly from being an unlikely recipient of FDI, Macedonia looks a promising place for it. Compliance with its side of the bargain with the IMF will be key here, a sure sign to potential investors that Macedonia is turning the corner at last.

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Zender resubmits Skopje airport bid

German Zender is likely to be granted the concession on the Skopje airport for the reconstruction and modernisation of the airport, the transport and communications ministry have stated, New Europe reported.
The ministry noted that this scenario for the airport modernisation is more beneficial than the previous one that involved a loan which was one of the reasons for cancelling the previous tender won by Zender. Minister Blakoski said the company's new preliminary offer has been updated and was also more beneficial for the Macedonian side.

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Macedonian finance minister announces conclusion, outcome of IMF negotiations

Negotiations with the IMF mission on introducing a six-month monitoring, which is to begin on 1st January 2002, were completed on 6th Deember. This is one of the key conditions, together with the passage of a local self-government act, for the organisation of a donors' conference, Macedonian Radio has reported. 
At the news conference, Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski announced that the basic parameters for the forthcoming year had also been agreed, namely, a 4 per cent increase in the gross domestic product and a 2.5 per cent inflation rate at a budgetary deficit of around 3.5 per cent. The denar rate is to remain stable, while salaries in the public sector are to remain frozen. The implementation of this arranged policy in the first half of next year will also represent a condition for striking a stand-by arrangement with the IMF. Gruevski said that if the donors' conditions were met, the donors' conference could be expected to occur on 20th or 21st December.

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PHARE to finance free economic zone feasibility

The Small Projects Fund of the PHARE programme for transborder co-operation is to finance a feasibility study for a project aimed at establishing a free economic zone in Gevgelija, Macedonian (bordering Greece).
Tender preparations have already reached the final phase, and so far 28 projects in 23 municipalities in the border region have been implemented under the programme, IntelliNews News Agency quoted the Macedonian co-ordinator assaying.

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Greek OTE wins Macedonian mobile phone licence

Greek telecom group has won a Macedonian mobile licence allowing it to operate a second mobile phone network in the country. 
The 22-year licence will cost US$25m. Although Link Telecom had offered US$80m, the government rejected the offer when it did not receive a letter of credit by the September 14th deadline.
George Skarpelis, OTE''s head of international investments was quoted as saying by that the new mobile operator will commence operations early next spring.

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