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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: 061 (23/05/02)

West brokers peace
Macedonia remains in much the same position as eight months ago when they pulled back from civil war, of which they were on the brink. They benefited enormously from the impact of 9:11. The rebel Albanian militia did not want to be identified in any way with al-Qaeda and Bin Laden. They are grateful to the West for their rescue of Albanians in the Kosovo War.
The West took rapid advantage of the pro-Western sympathy to broker a peace; NATO Secretary - General, Robertson, played an important role here, as did the Americans. But there is still a serious security problem in the republic. NATO top-ranking force - commanders have committed themselves to keeping their troops, led by Germany in the troubled Balkan republic after the 'Amber Fox' missions ends in March. Amber Fox has been providing security for EU monitors supervising the return of refugees - to their homes 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. 

Economy rebounds with difficulty
The economy has naturally been adversely affected. GDP growth, which was 4.6% in 2000, plunged by 4.6% in 2001. Prospective growth for 2002 is 3%. 
Foreign investment has been negligible. Much remains to be done by the coalition ethnic Albanian-Macedonian government.

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Macedonian foreign minister says talks with Chinese officials "extraordinary"

Macedonian Foreign Minister, Slobodan Casule, who accompanied President Trajkovski on his visit to China at the invitation of President Jiang Zemin, told Macedonian Radio about the talks' agenda. 
Casule said: "The meetings were very fruitful indeed and it would not be an exaggeration on my part if I said that they were extraordinary. First of all, we agreed that economic cooperation should be raised to a higher level. In other words, we agreed to create a political and economic atmosphere that would enable our two countries - and businessmen in particular - to engage in so-called joint ventures in the country and abroad. We seek to establish a bridge of cooperation that would reach the level of political closeness that we have achieved; this bridge can only be established by enhancing economic ties and creating projects involving both sides. 
"In the talks with the prime minister, I proposed that Macedonia should become China's gateway to Europe - this being in line with the government's strategy - with an open invitation for Chinese businessmen to come to our country and pursue their interests. In response to this, the prime minister said that he would be greatly pleased if Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski could visit China. On behalf of the latter, I invited the Chinese prime minister to visit the Republic of Macedonia. 
"What is of overriding importance at the moment is that we are building modern relations with the People's Republic of China, particularly in the economic sphere. 
"With the free trade agreements that we have reached with the Balkan countries and the Stabilization and Association Agreement, we could offer China a market of 50 million (in Southeastern Europe) and 300 million (in Europe and above all in the EU). Hence the reply of the Chinese prime minister to this was: Great, let's get started!..."

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