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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: 066 (22/10/02)

The Macedonians can breathe a sign of relief. There is now less likelihood that their republic will slip into civil war, although that cannot yet be entirely ruled out. But it is a good deal less likely than before elections, held on September 15th.
In advance of the elections the political atmosphere was tense. The government under hardline Macedonian nationalist premier Ljubco Georgievski, was rooting for the arrest and imprisonment of Ali Ahmeti, the head of one of the two Albanian parties, the Democratic Party for Integration. He led the now disbanded National Liberation Army (NLA) which had stirred up strife in early and middle 2001, threatening yet another Balkan war.
Fortunately, that was averted by the dissolution of NLA under strong NATO prompting. It took place after 9:11 last year, the two events being related. The last thing the Albanians want is to be regarded as against the US or the West, aware that NATO support is the sine qua non of de facto independence for Kosovo.

Bloody overture to peaceful conclusion
The campaign before the election was marred by a spate of killings. They were undertaken by both Albanian gunmen and Macedonian police, with not only each other, but harmless civilians as the victims. The year of rebellion has left whole areas in a lawless condition. Mafia elements in league with the police often moved in.
But the authorities in Skopje knew how much depended on a properly conducted election. They acquiesced in Western supervision of the whole process. There were 3,500 specially trained police officers and NATO-led troops patrolling into the night in restive areas. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) deployed 900 election observers in the largest operation of its kind that OSCE has ever conducted. Every precaution imaginable was taken to ensure a peaceful outcome.
The former communists, the Social Democratic Party, under Branko Crvenkovski, came first in the elections to the 120-seat parliament but will have to rely upon the new Albanian party led by Mr Ahmeti. The conduct of outgoing premier Georgievski is particularly commendable; on the morning after he immediately resigned and pledged to cooperate with whatever government emerged from the democratic process. 
Democracy has perhaps installed itself in Macedonia, an appropriate outcome for the northern outpost of Hellenic civilisation in ancient times, the heir to the democracy of Athens in Ancient Greece.

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Macedonian finance minister, US official sign grant accord on strategic goals

Macedonian Finance Minister, Nikola Gruevski, and USAID Director to Macedonia, Dick Goldman, signed on 27th September the grant agreement on strategic goals between USA and Macedonia for enhanced growth and development of private sector, MIA News Agency has reported. 
The agreement will provide funds for the next three years, thus enabling Macedonia to realize its strategic goal for enhanced growth and development of private sector, implementation of market-based economic reforms, liberalization of the investment regime in the country, increasing the employment in the private sector and reducing the poverty. 
The grant amounting to US$26,221,276 will be implemented through the USAID office to Macedonia. The agreement encompasses the entire financial and technical assistance that will be provided to Macedonia by USAID. 
The implementation of the agreement aims to enforce the financial sector through investments in the banking and non-banking financial institutions, increased competitiveness of private companies on domestic and international markets, improved economic and legal environment for increasing the investments in private sector. 
The agreement also foresees the establishment of a credit agency for short-term advanced financing of the Macedonian companies' export agreements. The agency will cooperate with companies that have signed high quality export agreements, but have no options for obtaining credit, as they do not have a mortgage. The cooperation between the agency and the company continues until the company assesses it that it can run its business independently... 
The deadline for implementation of the Agreement is 30th September 2005 and can be changed only if the two concerned parties agree about that. 
At the end of the meeting, Minister Gruevski thanked the USAID representatives for the successful cooperation, hoping that it would continue in the future. USAID representatives also expressed their positive impressions from the existing cooperation with the Macedonian government and Finance Ministry.

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Macedonian minister signs accord on building Negotino-Demir Kapija highway

Minister of Transport and Communication, Ljupco Balkoski, director of building company Beton, Zlate Janakievski, and manager of the programme for infrastructure of the European Reconstruction Agency, Jean Valselier, signed an agreement for realization of the second phase of building of the highway Negotino-Demir Kapija on 27th September, MIA News Agency has reported. 
The European Reconstruction Agency donated 5.6m Euro for the implementation of the second phase of building of this significant part of Corridor 10, while the Macedonian government covered the expenses for preparation of the project and expropriation of land. 
The first phase encompasses the building of 6 km of highway to Negotino, with the next phase covering an additional 4 km, while the third, which is expected to begin in the course of the following year, will cover another 6 km. 
The EU will invest a total of 30m euros for building of the highway near Negotino. 
The Agency announced that it had around 45m Euro for projects for the development of infrastructure in the Republic of Macedonia, among which the projects for building of overpass near Tetovo and rehabilitation of road to border crossing Blace.

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