% 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.
Update No: 077 (01/10/03)
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 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.
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 Kosovo.
Macedonia, in cooperation with the UN Kosovo Administration (UNMIK), would take measures for suitable arrangement of Macedonian companies on the market of Kosovo, the statement read. Trajkovski also made the point of determining the status of Gorans (Macedonian Muslims).
Afred Moisiu, president of Albania, and parliament speaker Servet Pelumbi, along with the Vice President of the 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.
Trajokovski met with his Albanian counterpart Moisu. The leaders agreed to organise an economic forum in Tirana, to be directed at Macedonian companies and present the prospects for economic collaboration with Albania. An interest in developing bilateral relations was demonstrated by the meeting between Pelumbi and Albanian Defence Minister, Pandeli Majko, while meeting with
Assembly committee approves proposed amendments to 2003 budget
The parliamentary committee on finances and budget adopted on 15th September a proposal for changing and supplementing of the 2003 budget, which foresees revenues of 55.79bn denar, i.e. a surplus of 560m denar that has been the reason for the budget rebalance, MIA News Agency has reported.
The surplus is a result of non-tax revenues and the Macedonian Telecommunications dividend.
The expenditures are set to 59.2bn denar, while the deficit is at 3.4bn denar or 1.4 per cent of the gross domestic product (0.7bn denar less than the current budget).
"The budget rebalance is aimed at macroeconomic stability and coordination between the fiscal and monetary policies," Deputy Finance Minister, Dimko Kokarovski, said.
The committee also adopted draft laws on the 2003 budget execution and limitation of source revenues for financing public needs for 2003.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Macedonian foreign minister visits Hungary, discusses visa regime, investment
"Modern diplomats focus on practical matters so we did not make an exception today," Macedonian Foreign Minister, Ilinka Mitreva, said at the joint press conference with her Hungarian counterpart Laszlo Kovacs in Budapest, MIA News Agency has reported.
They discussed visa regime liberalization and the Hungarian foreign minister said that his country was prepared to provide visa regime facilitation to Macedonian citizens.
"The European visa regime establishment means European issuance standards. Free visas issuance will continue for the Hungarian citizens involved in cultural, educational and scientific projects, transit transporters, as well as group visits for which the Macedonian Foreign Ministry is previously informed," she underlined.
The Hungarian minister expected that bilateral agreement text for cooperation in the area of education, science and culture would be set soon.
Macedonia, in economic matters, should make a broader presentation of the possibilities for future Hungarian investment. Mitreva expressed the hope that the Hungarian credit line of 100m Euros for the region countries, of which 20m Euro were intended for Macedonia and 30 per cent grant, would be accomplished soon.
Mitreva talked with Hungarian parliament president, Katalin Szili, and met the government vice president, Peter Kiss
She visited the MATAV company on 12th September and had an informal meeting with the Director General, Elek Straub.
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