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: 085 (01/06/04)
The Macedonians have 'had a good war,' as the saying goes, as regards the war against terrorism. The events of 9:11 and their aftermath did much to avert a worsening of civil war in the country. An Albanian ethnic movement for secession was chastened and gave up the armed struggle as a result. The Albanians of course knew who had helped their cousins in Kosovo no end in 1999.
Fake terror plot revealed
But it is now clear that certain figures in the security forces in Skopje went too far in trying to make the most out of the situation. Macedonia's deputy interior minister apologised on May 21st to the Pakistani ambassador to Turkey, who was in Skopje, for the murder of six Pakistanis by its security forces two years ago in a conspiracy supposedly intended to curry favour with the Americans in their war on terrorism.
Six Pakistanis and one Indian were killed, described at the time as mujahideen. In fact they were just migrant workers passing through the country, looking for work in Western Europe.
In what has been described as the worst scandal to hit the Balkan nation, the government in April charged former interior minister, Ljube Boskovski, and six security force officers with murder, alleging that they staged the ambush to win international attention for their efforts to combat terrorism. The ambush happened six months after 9:11 when Washington was seeking allies for its anti-terrorism campaign.
Boskovski had claimed that the seven were an Islamic fundamentalist cell plotting to blow up an electricity power sub-station and, thereby, destroy the US and UK embassies. The seven, who were as young as 22, were in fact brought to Macedonia with promises of passage to Western Europe and good jobs. They were instead kept prisoner in a flat in Skopje. They were then driven out to the scrublands of Rastanski Lozja, just east of Skopje, shot dead, and the scene made to appear the work of terrorists. Next to their bullet-ridden bodies were placed camouflaged uniforms, guns and explosives.
But when Western diplomats were shown photographs their reaction was one of suspicion. Suspicion that it was a put-up job hardened into outright accusation that it was.
New government steps in
The decisive event that set off an investigation by Skopje into the bizarre affair was the election of a new Social Democratic government in September 2002. It ousted the nationalists and welcomed the disarmed Albanian party into the government. The Interior Ministry was instructed to open a full enquiry into the killings, which has just delivered its damning verdict.
The operation, it turns out, was conducted by a para-military unit formed by Bokovski, called 'The Lions.' Commanders of the unit have told investigators that Bokovski and senior Interior Ministry officials dreamed up the scheme to uncover a fake terrorist plot. Four members of 'The Lions' and two Interior Ministry officials have been charged with murder.
The scandal is a devastating blow to the nationalists. Bokovski has fled to Croatia, where he also has citizenship, denying everything. "But then he would, wouldn't he?", as Mandy Rice-Davis immortally said when Lord Astor denied he had had carnal relations with her. Scandals can make a big difference in political life. One just has to think, indeed, of the Profumo scandal in Britain, which led to the trial of Stephen Ward, the Svengali of the affair in which she made the riposte. It marked the end of thirteen years of Tory rule in 1964.
The scandal in Macedonia is a gift for the Social Democrats and, if they play their cards right, should help their re-election, still years away. The great losers are, even more than the nationalists, the security forces, who will now think twice about getting up to any more hanky-panky!
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Skopje, Beijing eye ties
"Macedonian-Chinese economic cooperation progresses, but the results are below our wishes and expectations," states energy advisor in the Ministry of Economy, Nikola Cerepnalkovski, after the end of the fourth session of the joint commission on economic cooperation between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and People's Republic of China.
According to Cerepnalkovski, the trade exchange between the two countries is not large in numbers, but there is a marked increase in the last few years. "However, the results of the progress are evident," Cerepnalkovski said, adding that the "Kozjak" project should be mentioned in that regard. Cerepnalkovski pointed out that Macedonian members of the commission presented the possibilities of the Free Economic Zone "Bunardzik," conditions for investments in the country, as well as the possibilities for cooperation after joining of both countries with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Chinese Deputy Trade Minister assessed the session of the joint commission as successful and pointed out it was a basis and preparation for further joint activities, New Europe reported recently.
Macedonian acting president receives Albanian foreign minister
Macedonian Parliament Speaker, Ljupco Jordanovski, received Albanian Foreign Minister, Kastriot Islami, who was on a two-day official visit to Macedonia, MIA News Agency reported.
The two interlocutors discussed the improvement in cooperation between the two neighbouring and friendly countries, especially in the fields of economy and security, as an incentive for accession to EU and NATO. Jordanovski, stressed that both countries have good relations but greater efforts should be put into the realization of Corridor 8 and AMBO oil pipeline, which are projects of strategic importance for the regional countries.
Furthermore, Minister Islami congratulated Jordanovski on the successful presidential elections, announcing that Albanian Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, would visit Macedonia after the establishment of the new government.
The Albanian foreign minister confirmed the intention of the Albanian government sign of a cooperation protocol with its Macedonian counterpart in the EU accession process as well as a more intensive cooperation at a parliamentary level.
Macedonian annual industrial production drops by 33 per cent in March 2004
According to the State Statistics Bureau, industrial production declined by 33 per cent in March compared with March 2003. A major decline of 61 per cent was noted in the metal processing and mining sector. An increase of 17 per cent was noted compared to February. This is the third huge drop in industrial production in a row, after a 42.8 per cent decline in January and a 36.8 per cent decline in February compared with average industrial production last year, Dnevnik reported.
Because the government doubts the figures issued by the Statistics Bureau, it has recently decided that it will most likely change how this research is conducted. The government has authorized the Economy Ministry and the Labour and Social Policy Ministry to enhance their control over the factors that influence the precise determination of the range of industrial production. Compared with the figures on electricity supply, imports and exports of goods, and the number of employed, a more realistic picture on production should be obtained. Most national experts believe that the bureau's data are incorrect because most of the companies either do not submit reports or present smaller figures in order to pay lower taxes.
Macedonia, Albania officials discuss regional situation
Macedonian Vice Premier, Radmila Sekerinska, met recently with Albanian Prime Minister, Fatos Nano, with whom she exchanged opinions on the regional situation, New Europe reported recently.
Nano expressed his conviction that the presidential elections in Macedonia would end successfully, and that the country would continue on its path towards EU and NATO integration.
The Albanian prime minister congratulated Sekerinska on the events of the going into effect of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU and the application for EU membership, supporting the strengthened cooperation between the government bodies of the two countries in the field of European integration.
During the meeting, Sekerinska raised the issue of the request of the Macedonian community in Albania for increasing of their rights, especially in the sphere of education, at which the Albanian premier responded with readiness for realisation of concrete activities.
Macedonian Vice Premier and Albanian Minister for Integration, Ermelinda Meksi, assessed that the prior experience of Macedonia in the Euro-integration process is useful for the future moves of Albania, which is currently negotiating the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU.
The Albanian party greeted the proposed cooperation memorandum between the Macedonian Government Department for Euro-Integration, and the Albanian Ministry for Integration, with the expectation of its finalisation and signing as soon as possible.
Sekerinska also exchanged opinions with deputy parliament speaker Makbule Ceco on parliamentary practices, with an emphasis that the inter-party consensus and the parliament's support for strategic priorities for EU membership which are crucial for the progress of each country towards the union.
Sekerinska also met with representatives of the Macedonian community in Albania and emphasised the necessity for increase of the rights for schooling in the mother tongue, as well as urging the development of regions populated with Macedonians, which can contribute greatly to the constructive cooperation between the two states.
The representatives from the Macedonian Government Euro-Integration Department and the foreign ministry focused on the Macedonian experiences in the negotiation process for the Stabilisation and Association Agreement, especially the establishment of administrative bodies for coordination.
MINERALS & METALS
LNM Holdings buys 6.02% of Balkan Steel shares
LNM Group, the world's second largest steel producer, recently acquired 6.02% of shares of the Balkan Steel International. LNM Holdings purchased the shares on the Macedonian Stock Exchange, New Europe reported.
This move is seen as first step of the LNM Group to acquire a majority of the shares of two steel companies in Macedonia, the hot-strip mill and the cold rolling mill, both located near Skopje.
Eurobroker has announced that the remaining 44% of the shares, owned by Balkan Steel International, will be available for trading at the Macedonian bourse soon. The rival Maksteel remained adamantly opposed to selling out of the two steel companies.
Foreigners assess tourism offer
A group of 13 tour operators from the United States, Britain, Italy, Germany, Bulgaria and Turkey recently paid a four-day visit to Macedonia organised by of the Cluster of Tourism within the Macedonian Competitiveness Activity (MCA) Project, aimed at promoting the country's natural resources and cultural and historic heritage, MIA reported.
The guests visited attractive locations in the area of Skopje, Mavrovo, Struga, Ohrid, Bitola and Krusevo. A traditional Macedonian evening was organised in Ohrid, at which the guests had an opportunity to taste world quality wines and various types of cheese, MCA competitiveness advisor, Mike Brenan, said.
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