Books on Macedonia
% of GDP
Update No: 102 (27/10/05)
Drnovsek Voices Support for EU Aspirations of Macedonia,
Slovenia and Macedonia are poles apart in the former Yugoslavia in every way,
not just geographically. The former is Catholic, the latter, Orthodox. Slovenia
always had standard of living five times that of Macedonia in Yugoslav days and
still does. Slovenia is already in the EU, Macedonia merely aspires to be.
Slovenia's support for Macedonian entry is extremely important, therefore. Its
president, Janez Drnovsek, voiced support for the efforts of Macedonia and
Bosnia-Herzegovina to join the EU as he met the heads of state of both countries
at the summit of Central European presidents on Friday, 14 October.
Talks with Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski focused on the country's bid
to join the EU, with Drnovsek stressing that Macedonia should be given the
status of candidate country when the EU assesses its progress towards accession
in November. He said Slovenia would try to help by dispelling concerns in Europe
about further rounds of enlargement.
Austria plans conference on Balkans in 2006 - Fischer
Austria is another key country to support Macedonia's cause. It plans on holding
a conference on the Balkans in the first half of 2006, when it takes over the
presidency of the European Union, President Heinz Fischer said in Zagreb on
Speaking at the final press conference of Central European presidents at the end
of the two-day Croatia Summit 2005, Fischer said the summit had proved that
other countries in the region were also interested in European integration. He
said the summit had been very successful and an opportunity for presidents of
Central European countries to get to know each other better.
Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski said that the launching of EU entry
negotiations was a historic moment for Croatia and a big encouragement to
Macedonia and the entire region because it was clear that the enlargement
process was not stopped. The project of European unification is so important
that regardless of all controversies and disputes, it must be completed
successfully, he said, voicing hope that at next year's summit of Central
European presidents in Bulgaria, Macedonia would enjoy EU candidate status.
What's in a name?
There is an obstacle to Macedonia joining which will not go away. Its very name
offends the Greeks. President Branko Crvenkovski is meeting with leaders of
larger parliamentary parties and former foreign ministers on the latest proposal
of UN mediator Matthew Nimetz for solving the dispute between Skopje and Athens
over Macedonia's constitutional name. Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva and Vanja
Tosevski, former Macedonian envoy in talks on the name dispute, have attended
the meetings, the President's Cabinet said in a press release.
It is extraordinary with what trivialities world statesmen are obliged to
concern themselves, the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
being one of them. At NATO, the European Union and United Nations, Macedonia is
known as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". Greece has a
province called Macedonia on the frontier with FYROM, as it insists it should be
titled. They fear that the formerly salv-populated province that they acquired
as their share of the spoils in the last and final Balkan war of independence
against the Ottomans, as recently as the early 20th century, might become 'a
bone of contention' with the former Yugoslav portion at some future point.
Greece set out to 'hellenise' their new province to aqueeze out the slav
elements in language, education, movement of people, etc; and they are clearly
concerned about some future claim and territorial dispute with their FYR
neighbour. The name issue reflects their concern that any local discontent in
their province should not become focussed by romantic notions of a 'greater
The Macedonia of old is where Philip of Macedonia and his son, Alexander the
Great, came from, of whom the Greeks are inordinately proud, despite the fact
that the two together conquered Ancient Greece and brought its great days to an
end. But the Hellenic period that ensued did convey its marvellous culture to a
far wider sphere, indeed set up the way for Rome and the modern West.
"FYROM's path towards EU membership cannot continue unless the name issue
is resolved," said Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis during a visit to
Prague, Czech Republic. Indeed, on November 9th, the European Commission will
present its opinion on FYROM's EU perspective, which will be discussed within
the Union a week later. This is a massively important moment for the
Nimetz has presented the latest name proposal, which was not made public, to
both Macedonia's and Greece's representatives. Greece rejected a United Nation's
proposal for solving the dispute over Macedonia's name as "unacceptable".The
name dispute began with the break-up of the former Yugoslavia in 1991. Because
of the disagreements with the name and the state flag of Republic of Macedonia,
Greece introduced a total trade embargo to Macedonia. The trade blockade was in
force 18 months till October 1995, when Macedonia changed its national flag.
Macedonia and Greece under the patronage of the UN started the negotiations for
solving the name dispute with the mediation of the US negotiators Sairus Vens
and Matthew Nimitz.
The relations between the two countries were significantly improved after the
signing of the temporary Bilateral Agreement for Cooperation in 1995, after the
unilateral embargo was revoked.
The Macedonians would be well-advised to play along with the Greeks for the
while, get into the EU and then after a decent interval raise the matter again,
not in Brussels, but the UN. Time is on their side in this dispute. 'FYROM' is
too cumbersome a name to survive. Everyone but the Greeks will be calling the
country 'Macedonia' sooner or later - except for the Greeks and Brussels
bureaucrats, who will be made to look very silly.
Pressure over FYROM
The Americans are putting pressure upon Greece over the name issue, just as
the Europeans are on Turkey over the question of Cyprus. US Undersecretary for
Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns came out in favour of the membership of the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) in NATO and the European Union and
said Greece should not oppose its entry in either of the two organizations.
In an interview published in the FYROM newspaper Utrinski Vesnik, Burns, who
served as US ambassador to Greece from 1997 to 2001, was quoted as saying that
"it would be a shame for Greece to use a veto" in FYROM's effort to
join the EU and NATO.
"Something like that would not be right. Macedonia has the right and an
interest to become a NATO and EU member and it would be a shame to create
problems in this direction," Burns was quoted as saying, referring to FYROM
with its constitutional name, to which Greece objects.
The name FYROM itself is a temporary compromise reached by the two states in
1995. However, more than 100 states have recognized FYROM as
"Macedonia" in their bilateral relations and, practically, the
appellation is widely used everywhere, except in Greece.
Opposition Socialist politicians immediately jumped in to denounce, not the US,
but the Greek government for its "weak" foreign policy and mock it for
its assertion that relations with the US have tightened to the point where
Greece is considered a "strategic partner."
"Mr Burns's remarks - I remind you he is a 'strategic partner' of the New
Democracy government - reveal the weakness of (Prime Minister Costas)
Karamanlis's foreign policy strategy," said Christos Papoutsis, the
Socialist party's spokesman on foreign affairs, security and defence.
The Greek government did not react directly, but foreign ministry sources said
Greece reserves the right to block FYROM's EU and NATO entry, unless it uses a
name acceptable to Greece. Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis, at a meeting of
Balkan states in Rhodes, said "all the countries of the region should join
the EU, without exception."
Albanian leaders in Macedonia to seek expansion of bilingualism
Of more consequence is the relationship between the country's Macedonian and
Albanian populations, who are at least cooperating in a coalition government.
But problems are always arising.
In a media statement on September 30th, Democratic Union of Integration (DUI)
leader Ali Ahmeti said he plans to introduce discussions within the ruling
coalition about expanding the use of Albanian as a second official language.
Ahmeti said he would again raise a DUI proposal to allow the use of Albanian in
the parliament, government and army command.
But President Crvenkovski has rejected the idea, noting that it was
intentionally left out of the Ohrid Accords during negotiations in 2001. The EU
is curiously the very forum within which minorities can pursue their rights
effectively. Brussels is likely to ask him to reconsider his position.
Malaysia mulls investments
Macedonia has invited Malaysian companies to invest in the country and take part
in its economic activities, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib
Tun Razak, announced on September 20th, seeeurope.net reported.
According to him, Macedonia's Prime Minister, Minco Jordanov, conveyed the
invitation when he called on Najib at the prime minister's department complex.
Najib said that during the meeting, which lasted for about an hour, Jordanov
talked about the investment opportunities in Macedonia as well as its business
He said that Jordanov, who was on a four-day visit to Malaysia was confident
that increased participation by Malaysian companies in the country's investment
and business activities would have a positive impact on Macedonia's economy. To
date, a Malaysian company, Hisniaga Jaya Sdn Bhd, has ventured into Macedonia
and has obtained loans to construct an apartment and a power plant.
"If both projects can be implemented it will have a major impact on
Macedonia," Najib said. Najib described the investment climate in Macedonia
as positive as the country is politically stable. "Their government
comprises the different ethnic groups, they have Christians and Muslims,"
he said. "However economically, they are facing a huge challenge, requiring
more injection of huge capital, especially foreign investment," he said.
Najib said that Macedonia has already identified a local citizen to become its
honorary consul to be based in Malaysia. "They are also encouraging
Malaysians to open tourism offices in Macedonia," he said.