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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: 065 (26/09/02)

Macedonia has passed a milestone in its history. The outcome of parliamentary elections is not yet wholly clear.

Electoral upheaval
But one thing certainly isevident. The ruling party in the coalition, VMRO-DPMNG, resigned the day after the elections, held on September 15th.
The second is that the centre-left coalition in formation to succeed it will be highly likely to include the Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, led by Ali Ahmeti. This is immensely important because he led the now disbanded National Liberation Army (NLA) which had stirred up ethnic strife in early and middle 2001, threatening yet another Balkan civil war.

Peace process commences
The terrorist attacks on 9:11 had massive repercussions, not least in Macedonia. The Kosovar Albanians had received NATO backing in the war in 1999. The Albanians of Albania itself had no interest in a Greater Albania. Militants from Kosovo crossed into Macedonia where they thought they could have better luck, taking Albanian ethnic areas of Macedonia and uniting them with Kosovo. An ethnic Albanian rebellion under the NLA made quite a bit of ground, given the disabilities suffered by ethnic Albanians as a whole.
Then came 9:11. The last thing the Albanians wanted to do was to lose the Western support that had given Kosovo de facto independence. The NLA voluntarily disbanded itself, its chief holding a press conference in a mountain cave to that effect just when Osama bin Laden was flaunting his cause in another cave in the Hindu Kush. The way seemed clear for a rapprochement between the two sides.

Bloody overture
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 the outgoing premier Ljubco 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 economy minister stresses benefits of accession to WTO 

"Entrance of the Republic of Macedonia in the World Trade Organization (WTO) would provide protection for Macedonian products," Minister of Economy Besnik Fetai stated on 31st August, MIA News Agency has reported. 
The official entry of the Republic of Macedonia into the WTO on 17th September will provide an opening of markets of 143 member countries of the organization, as well as an equal treatment of our products with foreign goods on the world market. 
"After the entrance in WTO, our products will be protected, although the Macedonian production will suffer blows from the products of several developed countries," Minister Fetai states. 
He emphasized, "the objective of WTO is not to destabilize a country, because no country would have the intention to enter the organization." 
According to the minister of economy, almost all bilateral agreements have been finished, along with the necessary laws, except for the law on authorship and kindred rights, which will be passed before the ratification of the law on Macedonia's entrance in WTO by the new Assembly structure. Fetai added that this was not a reason to stop the entrance in the organization. 
Fetai informed that several customs tariffs have been decreased, which will be valid only for WTO member countries. 
Macedonian minister of economy reminded that the customs tariffs on milk remained at 66 per cent. The customs tariff on several other products, such as cheese, meat and other food products and products of primary agriculture production, as well as lamb meat, remained high.

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Macedonian premier officially opens stretch of road at Bulgarian border

Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski formally opened on 31st August the road section Berovo-border crossing at Klepalo on the Macedonian-Bulgarian border, MIA News Agency. 
At the ceremony, attended by Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, Minister of Transport and Communication,s Ljubco Balkovski, and numerous guests, Georgievski expressed his satisfaction with opening of this road, especially because many cornerstones were laid in the past, but there were no realized projects. 
This road, whose construction was delayed for decades, presented a great hope for development of tourism and regional cooperation, Goergievski said.
Vasko Gavrilov, director of the Agency for Undeveloped Regions, formally opened the road between the villages of Macilo and Vladimirovo.

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