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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: 069 (28/01/03)

The Macedonians and their neighbours are breathing sighs of relief. In early to middle 2001 a civil war looked imminent, pitting the Albanians against the Macedonians, that is the secessionist - minded Albanians, who are by no means all Albanians resident in the republic. Even the hotheads have cooled off, undoubtedly as a direct consequence of 9:11.

NLA disbanded itself
The guerrilla leader of the NLA disbanded the secessionist army and surrendered it's weapons in a cave in the southern mountains just as al-Qaeda forces including presumably Osama bin Laden, were holing up in other caves in the Tora-Tora region of Afghanistan. The last thing NLA wanted was to be branded as terrorists by NATO, which had come to the rescue of Albanians in Kosovo in 1999.

New government elected
A new multiethnic coalition government was formed in Macedonia on November 1st after elections in September. The US was in full support of the Western-brokered peace deal agreed in August 2001, which ended fighting and established greater rights for ethnic Albanians. Premier Georgievski, the hard-liner in the previous administration, graciously made way for the new government in a smooth transition.
The new premier is Branko Crvenkovski, who heads the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia. His former Communist party dominates the 18-member government, while members of the main ethnic Albanian party, led by Ali Ahmeti, the former rebel leader, were named to head the ministries of justice, health, education, transport and communications.
Although constitutional and other changes have taken place to honour the peace accord, the republic remains tense. There is violence in the northeast where Albanians predominate. But elsewhere the accord is holding.

Romania comes to town
Romania and Macedonia have agreed to come to terms to improve trade relations, the presidents of the two Balkan states said on November 6th. Ion Ilescu and Boris Trajkovski signed a deal expecting to lead to a free trade agreement.
The presidents discussed the common goal of joining the EU and NATO. Romania was invited to join the organisation at November's Prague NATO meeting. Macedonia is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace programme for aspiring members.

Albanian and Macedonian presidents to meet late November
An even more important meeting was that of the Albanian president, Alfred Moisiu, and Trajkovski in late November. They discussed NATO membership in common, unlikely to be soon and not until further economic and military reforms are in place.
The better relations are between the two countries, the better for inter-ethnic harmony in Macedonia. There is real hope now with a moderate premier in government in which the former rebel leader's Albanian party is very well represented in key posts. Macedonia can enter a new era.

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Macedonian government notes 8 per cent decline in industrial production

At a regular session on 30th December, the government adopted the report on industrial production in 2002 and measures for its growth in 2003, MIA News Agency has reported. 
The report says that due to difficult conditions in 2002, the industrial production declined by 8.3 per cent. 
The government has also adopted possible measures for boosting of the economic development in the next year, putting the Ministry of Economy in charge of initiating changes of certain laws that refer to this sector... 
At the suggestion of the appointment and election committee, the government appointed Zoja Lega Stanojevska for Ombudsman of Macedonia.

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Macedonian foreign minister visits Russia for talks on economic cooperation

Macedonian Foreign Minister, Ilinka Mitreva, arrived on 13th January in Moscow for a three-day official visit, which was expected to boost the bilateral relations, MIA News Agency has reported. Talks in Moscow were to be focused on intensifying of the economic cooperation. 
Upon arrival, Mitreva met with Irina Mutsuovna Khakamada, vice-president of the Russian Duma, in charge of the Russian relations with Southeastern Europe. 
The meeting was focused on the parliamentarian cooperation between both countries, as well as on the situation in Macedonia and the region. 
Mitreva briefed Khakamada on the Macedonian government priorities, the positive international presence in the country, and the process for the country's integration with the EU and NATO. She also pointed out the necessity of signing a free trade agreement between both countries. Khakamada is to visit Macedonia in the first quarter of 2003. 

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