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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: 064 (27/08/02)

Ethnic tensions
The Macedonians have one grave problem, their relations with their co-citizens in Macedonia, the ethnic Albanians. The Slav Macedonians and Albanians have never got on although they have long co-habited. Their respective cultures are diametrically opposed. In literature, music and art the members of one community are unable to experience any works produced by the other. Historically, the Moslem provenance of the Albanians is inexorably linked by the Slavic majority to the five centuries of Ottoman occupation which finished only ninety years ago.
Albanian and Macedonian publishing houses do not as a rule participate in each other's book fairs. The two ethnic communities stage separate festivals of music and drama. Macedonian troupes organised a national festival recently "Vojdan Cernodrinski," with no Albanian actors' participation. The Albanians did not allow Macedonians at their own drama festival in Debar. Indeed, they claim that there is discrimination against them in the allocation of funds for the arts; they have obtained just 250,000 Euros of the 22m Euros arts budget.
The two peoples remain stubbornly locked into contrary worlds, despite the massive attempt by their leaders to cooperate at the political level, which is receiving the full support of the international community. The world is desperately keen to avoid another Balkan bloodbath. So far Macedonia has not gone the way of the other Yugoslav republics to its north, just as it alone of the former Yugoslav republics, seceded ten years ago without bloodshed.

Peace offensive
The events of 9:11 were beneficial here. The Albanian Liberation Army, manned by fiery Albanian Kosovars, disbanded itself late last autumn in an obvious desire to dissociate itself from the al-Qaeda and all its works. The Albanian Kosovars know that they owe everything since 1999 to NATO, especially de factor independence from Serbia. Besides the Albanians here as in Albania proper, are far from zealous Moslems, that faith being more emblematic and cultural, rather than in any way political. After decades of communism it could hardly be otherwise.
The two communities cooperate in government within a coalition. But this is no indication of a general reconciliation of their outlook on life. Their mutual antipathy descended into bathos in July when Albanian football clubs threatened to form a separate soccer league. The occasion for this was that the main Albanian team, Shkendiga, was relegated from the national league. The demotion meant that there was no Albanian club in the country's premier division for the first time in Macedonia's sports history. Albanian football officials demanded 'proportional representation' at all levels of the Football Association of Macedonia. The Albanian club has been accepted into the second division.
A general election is due on September 15th which could alter the composition of the coalition. But the continuation of international aid, credit and cooperation is dependent on the coalition remaining in existence.

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Macedonian foreign trade deficit over US$1bn in first six months of 2002

Foreign trade of the Republic of Macedonia for January to June this year totalled over US$1.399bn of which exports were 36.2 per cent and imports 63.8 per cent. Exports covered imports by 56.7 per cent, making a negative exchange balance of US$386,377,000, 'Nova Makedonija' has reported. 
According to information from the National Statistics Bureau, in this period the greatest contribution to exports was finished products, with 33.6 per cent; products classified according to the material, 29.5 per cent; and alcohol and tobacco, 12.3 per cent. The most common imports were machines and transport vehicles, with 20.8 per cent; transactions and miscellaneous goods, 20.3 per cent; and food, 13 per cent.
Goods to EU member countries had the greatest share of exports, with 53 per cent, followed by the former Yugoslav republics, 29.5 per cent. EU member states had the largest share of imports, with 44.7 per cent, followed by countries from Central and Eastern Europe and the former Russian republics, 21 per cent. 
Compared to the same period last year, exports to developing countries increased by 74.9 per cent, and there was a 17.5 per cent increase to undeveloped countries. Imports also increased, except for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the former Russian republics, and EFTA [European Free Trade Association] countries.

Economic Forum on investment efficiency 

The second part of the "Economic Forum 2002," focused on the affect of foreign direct investments (FDI) on the economic development of Macedonia, was recently in Skopje, MIA News Agency has reported. 
Confronted with the stands of some participants at the forum, who say that the living standard of citizens is rather low despite the large foreign investments, Finance Minister, Nikola Gruevski, said that such investments could not have a significant affect on the GDP at the start. 
"In this phase of the country's development, the significant inflow of FDI in Macedonia is crucial. I am not for FDI at any price. The question is whether Macedonia will be better off with or without FDI," Gruevski said.

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