% of GDP
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.
The Macedonians are still experiencing a serious security problem where the Albanians are concentrated. A small number of still active guerrillas are causing incidents that threaten an autumn 2001 ceasefire. But, as we shall see, after setting out what is going on and the history behind it, a new solution is being tried out.
The Macedonians greatly benefited at first from the anti-terrorist campaign since 9:11. The top ranking NATO force- commanders committed themselves to keeping their troops in the troubled Balkan republic after the `Amber Fox ' mission ended in March, 2001.An ugly situation was defused in early autumn of that year as a direct result.
But the Albanians still form a disaffected minority of one third or more (nobody quite knows).Unfortunately it is by no means certain yet that the worst is over. There have been recent incidents involving Albanian activists in Kosovo, about which the world now knows so much. Unidentified members of the National Liberation Army (UCK), the former ethnic Albanian secessionist movement, whose voluntary disbandment in the autumn of 2001 raised hopes of a permanent end to discord, subsequently issued a threatening statement.
The statement indicated that certain disbanded members "will organise and reactivate their units" in preparation for renewed clashes with Macedonian forces. The statement was not made by any leader of UCK and came as a surprise to many of its former members. But there are obviously discontented elements still around among the Albanians in Macedonia.
History of the conflict
The insurgency of the rebels began in February 2001 and lasted for nine months. It ended after more than 100 people were killed, including 60 Macedonian security forces, mainly due to the trust the Albanians came to repose in NATO, which had after all helped their kith and kin in Kosovo in 1999. The militia disbanded in September 2001 after a peace agreement granted the Albanians more rights. But clearly some feel that this has not been implemented fully enough.
In mid-January, 2003, the ethnic Albanian underground group, Albanian National Army (AKSH) announced its intention to mount new offensives. AKSH representatives noted that the Macedonian security forces had been receiving reinforcements from Serbia, Russia, Ukraine and Croatia. They also accused the Slav-Macedonian fraction of the Skopje government of "legalising paramilitary units under the umbrella of the Orthodox Church." This is quite likely to be true.
It was never going to be easy to bring about a permanent concord between the mainly Muslim Albanians and the Orthodox Slavs. But at least a coalition government has been in place, with elements from both communities. The international community needs to remain deeply involved, as in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Update No: 078 (27/10/03)
The Macedonians continue to have a grave problem in the areas of the republic, where the Albanians are concentrated. A rump of active Albanian guerrillas, some of whom may still be secessionists, are causing incidents that threaten the autumn 2001 ceasefire. But, as we shall see, after setting out the history behind it and what has been going on more recently, a new solution is being tried out.
The Macedonians greatly benefited at first from the anti-terrorist campaign since 9:11. The top ranking NATO force- commanders committed themselves to keeping their troops in the troubled Balkan republic after the 'Amber Fox' mission ended in March.2001.An ugly situation was defused in early autumn of that year as a direct result.
But in mid-January of this year the ethnic Albanian underground group, Albanian National Army (AKSH) announced its intention to mount new offensives. AKSH representatives noted that the Macedonian security forces had been receiving reinforcements from Serbia, Russia, Ukraine and Croatia. They also accused the Slav-Macedonian fraction of the Skopje government of "legalising paramilitary units under the umbrella of the Orthodox Church." This is quite likely to be true.
A development in October shows that there certainly are discontented elements in Kosovo, still nominally part of Serbia. A Serbian officer was killed in an attack for which AKSH claimed responsibility. It said on the Internet that its crack special unit, Cobra, conducted the operation.
The AKSH continues to re-iterate its call for Albanians of all nationalities to unite into a single state. This includes Macedonia. The irredentist cause is not yet dead.
Balkan Forum prospers
One original way to resolve the root cause of the problem is being tried out. The Balkan Forum "Building of Friendship" has been set up, between Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania with the aim of encouraging cross-investment between them, in particular in Kosovo and the Albanian areas of Macedonia.
President Boris Trajovski of Macedonia met with Kosovo premier, Bajram Rexhepi, to make economic cooperation stronger, as well as to improve ways of combating organised crime. Macedonia, in cooperation with the UN Kosovo Administration, would take measures to encourage Macedonian companies into
Alfred Moisiu, president of Albania, and parliament speaker, Servet Pelumbi, along with the Vice President of the FYR Macedonian parliament, Agron Buxhaku, were joined by the speaker of the German Bundestag and other politicians as well from Balkan countries and from the US at the forum.
Trajkovski met with his Albanian counterpart, Moisiu. The leaders came to the conclusion of organising an economic forum in Tirana, to be directed at the FYR Macedonian companies to present prospects for economic collaboration with Albania. The forum was organised by the Albanian parliament, US Congress, Senate and several other European parliaments. An interest in developing bilateral relations was shown by Pelumbi and Albanian Defence Minister, Pandeli majko, while meeting with
Macedonia's GNP increases by 3 per cent in second quarter of 2003
According to the latest macroeconomic indicators, the gross national product [GNP] in the second quarter of this year increased by 3 per cent compared to the same period last year, 'Utrinski Vesnik' has reported. The greatest increase, that is a 7.3 per cent increase, was registered in the traffic, storage and communication sectors . There was a 5.7 per cent increase in wholesale and retail trade and a 3.4 per cent increase in mining, quarrying, processing and procurement of electricity, gas and water. The exports of goods and services were also increased by 9.2 per cent, compared to the same period last year, whereas imports increased by 2.9 per cent.
In the same period, consumption of goods increased by 6.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2002. The revenues in the central budget increased by 10.5 per cent and they amounted to 17,393 million denars. Regarding the tax revenues, the revenues in terms of the VAT increased by 21.3 per cent compared to the same period last year. The revenues from customs duty increased by 1.8 per cent, whereas the revenues from excise were reduced by 2.1 per cent. The budget expenses amounted to 16,503. The expenses for employees' salaries increased by 15.4 per cent, whereas the expenses for goods and other services were reduced by 42.9 per cent compared to the second quarter in 2002. As a result of this, there is a surplus of 890 million denars in the central budget.
"Industrial production increased by 3.7 per cent in the first eight months of this year, and the GNP reached a 3 per cent increase. You know that we planned to achieve this rate in 2003. Last year, the increase of the GNP was 0.07 per cent, and it was minus 4.5 per cent two years ago. You cannot expect a rise of 6 or 8 per cent in such a situation. The current pace of economic activities indicates the positive trend of consolidating economy. This certainly does not mean that our social and economic problems have been solved, and we are still far from fulfilling the expectations of the unemployed or the workers with low salaries. It is now significant to resume this trend and increase the rates in the next period," Finance Minister Petar Gosev says.
In his view, this year was a year of strenuous financial consolidation, because of the previous poor management of the public financial means, corruption, gaps in balances, repayment of debts, balancing revenues and expenses, and so forth. However, the government did its utmost and managed to reduce the GNP deficit from 5.4 per cent to 1.6 per cent in one year.
"Some opposition critics say that Macedonia should have a greater budget deficit in order for it to affect the economy significantly. This is perhaps right, but someone has to pay for that deficit," Gosev says.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Macedonian president meets Japan's Speaker, finance minister,
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and Finance Minister Petar Gosev have met the Japanese President [Speaker] of the House of Representatives, Tamisuke Watanuki, and Finance Minister, Sadakazu Tanigaki, ending the three-day working visit to Japan, MIA News agency has reported.
President Trajkovski and the President of the House of Representatives Tamisuke Watanuki have assessed that the political relations between Macedonia and Japan should be enhanced with more intensified inter-parliamentary cooperation.
Trajkovski and Watanuki agreed that the future cooperation should be focused on the economic sphere.
The Macedonian president thanked the Japanese for their assistance to Macedonia and the contribution of the parliament in approving the Japanese credit for construction of Zletovica hydrosystem. He pointed out that the situation in Macedonia after conflict in 2001 has stabilised and a favourable investment environment has been created.
"The Japanese House of Representatives can contribute by the encouragement of Japanese investments," Trajkovski said, pointing out the role of the Macedonian-Japanese League of Friendship and Cooperation.
Watanuki pointed out the role of Macedonia and the President Boris Trajkovski in stabilising of the situation on the Balkans and has reaffirmed the Japan's determination in building closer cooperation between the two countries.
At the meeting with the Japanese Finance Minister Tanigaki, the Macedonian president stressed the need for international assistance for the economic stabilisation of Macedonia. "Macedonia is good place for investment and Japan can be its economic promoter," Trajkovski said.
Tanigaki pointed out that Macedonia successfully copes with the challenges, confirming its stabilising role in the region. Being interested in economic and financial parameters in Macedonia, Tanigaki reaffirmed Japan's determination for enhancement of the bilateral economic cooperation.
Minister Gosev explained in detail the economic environment in Macedonia and stressed that since its independence it faced has been with huge internal and foreign shocks that had a negative impact on the economic development.
"Foreign direct investments are needed to strengthen economic development," Gosev said, pointing out that Macedonian government is doing everything to stabilise the political and security situation as the most important factor for attraction of foreign investments.
Besides credits and other types of financial support, Macedonia needs more direct foreign investments, Minister of Finance Gosev concluded.
The working visit of the Macedonian delegation to Japan ended with a meeting of leaders of the Macedonian-Japanese Parliamentary League of Friendship and Cooperation and Japanese-Adriatic Economic Committee.
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