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: 087 (27/07/04)
New president, premier and government
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's Parliament voted in a new government, led by ex-interior minister Hari Kostov, after a three-day debate in early June. There is likely to be continuity of policy, given the change in government was due, not to any domestic crisis, but to the tragic death in February of President Boris Trajkovski in an air crash in Bosnia.
Kostov, an economist by training who has no political party affiliation, replaced Branko Crvenkovski in the post of prime minister. Crvenkovski vacated the PM's role when he was elected president of FYROM In May.
Resolving inter-ethnic strife
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) was spared the worst of the inter-ethnic violence that occurred elsewhere in the Balkans following the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s; but it came close to civil war a decade after independence. Rebels in the south staged an uprising in early 2001, demanding greater rights for the ethnic Albanian minority. The conflict led to a wave of refugees and the rebels made territorial gains.
After months of skirmishes, EU and NATO support enabled the late president, Boris Trajkovski, to strike a peace deal with the rebels in late September, 2001. The occurrence of 9:11 helped here. The Albanian rebels did not want to be branded as international terrorists. Under the Lake Ohrid agreement, Albanian fighters laid down their arms in return for greater ethnic-Albanian recognition within a unitary state.
Acknowledgement of ethnic-Albanian rights was formalised in a new constitution that was approved by parliament in late 2001.
FYROM strikes deal seen as crucial for peace
The new coalition government has adopted a long-delayed deal handing more powers to local councils, a crucial part of the 2001 peace accord granting greater rights to the ethnic-Albanian minority.
The agreement, unpopular among many in the Slav-Macedonian majority, should give the country's 500,000 Albanians more control over municipalities where they form a majority. It represents a final step in implementing the NATO-brokered deal that ended seven months of clashes between government security forces and ethnic-Albanian rebels three years ago.
A monumental blunder
Macedonia has formally applied to join the EU but, while progress is being made, there is still a long way to go in consolidating stability, fighting crime and corruption and rebuilding the economy.
The Macedonians in their new-found pro-Western zeal have committed a misdeed which recalls Tallyrand's famous remark on hearing of Napoleon's execution of the Bourbon prince, Le Duc d'Enghein, for plotting his own death, a baseless charge, as all historians now agree;- " it is worse than a crime: it's a blunder."
Macedonian officials have admitted that the government lured seven innocent immigrants from the Indian sub-continent to Macedonia, gunned them down and claimed they were al-Qaeda terrorists plotting to attack the U.S. Embassy -- all to prove Macedonia's worth to the U.S.-led war on terror. "It was a monstrous fabrication to get the attention of the international community," says Macedonian Interior Ministry spokeswoman Miryana Kontevska.
The deaths of the six Pakistanis and one Indian marked a grotesque turn in the war on terror. Just over two months after Sept. 11, 2001, according to internal Macedonian police investigations, top officials and police commanders met at the Interior Ministry to chart a course of action aimed at demonstrating Macedonia's commitment to President Bush's call to bring in Osama bin Laden and his supporters dead or alive.
Macedonia (officially the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM) has been struggling to assert itself after leaving the Yugoslav federation in 1991. The smallest of the former Yugoslav republics -- its population is about 2 million -- Macedonia escaped the early 1990s bloodshed that pitted Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia in a bloody civil war, only to see a vicious guerrilla war erupt with minority ethnic Albanians seeking greater rights and representation in 2001.
The conflict left Macedonia's economy shaken and its reputation sullied by allegations that the government had employed legally questionable tactics to fight the insurgency.
Macedonia, Swiss firm sign memo on trans-Adriatic gas pipeline
Macedonian Minister of Economy, Stevco Jakimovski, and Joakim Konrad, director of Swiss Company EGL (Elektrizitats-Gesellschaft Laufenburg), recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Trans-Adriatic gas line. The investment amounts to 1.2bn euros, MIA news agency reported.
The gas line starts from Turkey and goes across Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania, and ends in Italy.
Jakimovski and Konrad announced the gas line construction would start within a year and-a-half, while the first gas quantities would flow in four years.
Jakimovski and Swiss Ambassador to Macedonia, Stephan Nellen, signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Macedonian and Swiss governments as well.
The Memorandum will contribute to the realization of the Programme on Development and Support of Small and Middle Sized Enterprises. The project was initiated in 1999.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Macedonia, Norway sign cooperation memos
Vice-Premier, Radmila Sekerinska, and manager of the Euro-Integration Sector, Dragan Tilev, signed with the Norwegian ambassador to Macedonia, Dag Halvorsen, a Memorandum of Understanding on the Programme for Norwegian Bilateral Project Support to Macedonia, and the Memorandum of Understanding of the Norwegian Programme for Project Support to Macedonia in the Field of European Integration and Reform of Public Administration, MIA News Agency reported.
"For the first time, we will regulate this bilateral assistance through partnership between Macedonian and Norwegian institutions. Priority of the following bilateral assistance of Norway to Macedonia will be our integration in the EU via political and economic reforms in Macedonia," Sekerinska stated, adding that the entire assistance would be directed towards the priorities defined by the state.
"The signing of the memoranda is an important step forward in Macedonian-Norwegian cooperation. Norway has carried out a significant cooperation programme with Macedonia for years, the objective of which is to provide support for the country in the process of its integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions, as well as the implementation of the Framework Agreement," Halvorsen said.
He emphasized that the programme would mainly focus on providing assistance to Macedonia in the fulfilment of the criteria for EU membership and implementation of the Framework Agreement, strengthening Macedonia's capacities for adoption, implementation and application of EU regulations.
"Macedonia's greatest challenge is not only to transpose EU regulations, but also their becoming an integral, implementing and applicable part of the national legislation," the Norwegian ambassador said.
The first document envisages the realization of funds of around 3.2m euros, intended for projects proposed by the government, and directed towards the implementation of the strategic priorities of the country, such as the implementation of the Framework Agreement, boosting employment and reducing poverty, and strengthening the rule of law, as part of the general framework of activities in the EU integration process.
The Memorandum of Understanding of the Norwegian Programme for Project Support to Macedonia in the Field of European Integration and Reform of Public Administration envisages funds to the amount of 500,000 euros, through cooperation of the Euro-Integration Sector and Statkonsult, which is the state consultant company in Norway.
This programme encompasses preparation of an EU manual for civil servants, strengthening capacities in the Euro-integration process, and support for the implementation of the plan for EU training.
Oaza, Lukas open Stip plant
The company Oaza from Stip and the Greek company for wool products Lukas from Larisa entered an agreement for opening a new factory for wool yarn in Stip, New Europe reported recently.
The factory will be located on the property of the former facility Tkaenini, which following Makedonka's liquidation was purchased by Oaza. The production is expected to start soon on an area of 5,000 square metres. Lukas is the only company in the Balkans specialising in wool fabrics.
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