Books on Macedonia
% 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
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
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: 083 (19/03/04)
Death of a true president
Everything in Macedon is still dominated by the tragic event that took place on February 26th, the death of President Boris Trajkovski in a plane crash on route to a conference in Bosnia. The plane had not been serviced recently, but the weather was appalling and it should never have been allowed to take off. Premier Fatos Nano of Albania refused to fly to the venue in mountainous Bosnia in such conditions. But the intrepidity with which Trajkovski insisted on flying was characteristic of the man.
His country has lost a great man. Its very worrying for the population, who must be thinking of the death by assassination of Premier Zoran Djindjic of Serbia next door in March last year. That has had unfortunate consequences, a stalling of reform and the re-emergence of ugly forces in Serbian politics in early elections in December, the largest party now being the Radicals of Hague indicted Vojislav Seselj, an arch nationalist. Is some dire fate now to befall Macedonia?
There are two facts that are highly symbolic. The last two documents that Trajkovski signed showed how he had left his country far better than he found it. The second to last was Macedonia's application to join the EU, which Premier Branko Crvenkovski was carrying to Dublin to Irish Premier Brian Aherne. He was there when the crash took place.
That Macedonia's candidacy was on the table at all was largely due to its avoidance of civil war in the autumn of 2001. Trajkovski had prime responsibility for that, giving his country peace and now a chance for inclusion in the West. That is singularly appropriate for the homeland of Alexander the Great, who spread Greek culture through much of the known world in antiquity, preserving it for posterity and the later West.
The last document he signed was a decree legalising an Albanian university, the absence of which has long been a grievance of the Albanian minority. Yet it had long been opposed by his own party. By the time of his death he had the authority to override its opinion. He was the one undoubted statesman his country had produced since independence.
He was an ordained Methodist priest in a republic divided between Orthodox ethnic Macedonians and Moslem Albanians. He was always prepared to be controversial. At a key moment in the troubles, he used his position as commander-in-chief to allow NATO troops through to escort home from a suburb near the capital, Skopje, an Albanian force that the ethnic Macedonians all branded as 'terrorists.'
He was always thwarting the hawkish reactions of the defence minister and the security forces, who were raring for a scrap in true Balkan style. He averted another Balkan war and deserves his place in Heaven.
There will be presidential elections to replace him on April 6th. The job is not so important in time of peace, but immediately becomes important in time of conflict due to the commander-in-chief role it involves. The peace accord in the ancient town of Ohrid in August 2001 is holding, paradoxically because of an event that took place the following month - 9:11!
The Albanians now of almost any ilk or persuasion, since the Kosovo War of 1999 regard the Americans as saviours. In October the last Albanian guerrilla leader surrendered his own and his troops' arms in honour of the Ohrid Agreement, doing so outside a cave in the southern mountains, looking with his straggly beard and great height rather like another leader presumed to be hiding in a cave somewhere in Central Asia.
The last thing any sensible Albanian wants now is to be branded as a terrorist. There have been a few incidents, attributable to incorrigible hotheads. But the Albanian party previously linked to the guerrillas is now in the government, thanks to patient diplomacy by Trajkovski. One can but hope that he is destined to go down as the greatest Macedonian since Alexander the Great, the one with a genius for waging war, the other with a genius for making and keeping peace.
FOOD & DRINK
Macedonian companies attend Food & Drink Expo in Birmingham.
Macedonia is represented by "Bovin" from Negotino with its red and white wines, as well as "Universal Promet" from Kocani and 20 other companies at the Food & Drink Expo, Internetnews.com reported.
Macedonian companies established contacts with many business partners from the British islands. They agreed Macedonian food products to be offered in London and British trade in the next months.
Food & Drink Expo is the UK's biggest event for the whole food and drink industry in 2004.
The event took place at the NEC, Birmingham, UK, this biennial event has quickly established itself as the most exciting UK exhibition for promoting products and services across the entire food and drink industry.
Incorporating the foodservice, manufacturing, retail, wholesale & export sectors, Food & Drink Expo 2004 played host to over 600 exhibiting companies from the UK, Europe and worldwide - bringing visitors the newest, best and most innovative products available on the world market.
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