Books on Macedonia
% of GDP
Update No: 101 (27/09/05)
What's in a name?
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
It is where Philip of Macedon 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. Hence the pride and jealousy
in not having the great name purloined by a mere remnant of Yugoslavia. Also the
Macedonian province of Greece was acquired by them as a part of the spoils of
defeating the Turks in the early 20th century. They have always been concerned
since to 'de-slav' the province and have worried that there might be a move to
reunite with the newly emerged republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
"Macedonia'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
Macedonia's EU perspective, which will be discussed within the Union a week
later. This is a massively important moment for the Macedonians.
They 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 his dispute. 'FYROM' is too cumbersome a
name too 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.
Macedonia upholds Orthodox bishop's jail term
A more substantial issue is that of human rights. As the Turks could tell them,
Brussels is very punctilious on the matter.
This is the worrying aspect of a recent controversial legal decision.
Macedonia's supreme court in early September rejected the appeal of a renegade
Orthodox bishop against an 18-month prison sentence, in a case that has soured
relations with neighbouring Serbia and its powerful church establishment.
Bishop Jovan of Ohrid, a central figure in a decades-old row between the rival
Macedonian and Serb churches, was jailed on July 26th for inciting ethnic and
religious hatred by holding a secret Sunday mass in a flat in the southern town
Prosecutors said that calendars and other material he had published slandered
the Macedonian Orthodox Church.
The supreme court, the highest court of appeal, acquitted the bishop on two
minor counts but upheld the sentence passed in August last year and confirmed by
a lesser appeals court in June.
The court "finds the said punishment is within the framework of the
punishment foreseen by the law", a statement said.
The Macedonian Orthodox church split from the Serb Orthodox Church in 1967,
insisting its southwestern Lake Ohrid region was an ancient cradle of Orthodoxy
and the Serb church is daughter of the Macedonian. Its self-governing status is
not recognised outside Macedonia, which broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991.
Bishop Jovan, whose name is Zoran Vraniskovski, was defrocked by the Macedonian
church as a traitor two years ago for siding with the Serb Orthodox Church in
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has described the prison sentence as
"unbelievable" and appealed to the Macedonian authorities to intervene
for his release.
EU entry the priority
The Macedonians feel themselves to be very European, whatever the Greeks may
think. They wish above all to join the EU to prove it.
It does seem extraordinary that a dispute between two branches of Orthodoxy
should result in a prison sentence for a leading cleric.
Macedonia wants to be in EU by 2010, Sekerinska says
Macedonia is aiming at European Union candidate status by the end of this year
and membership by 2010, the country's Deputy Prime Minister for European
Integration Radmila Sekerinska said in Austria recently, New Europe reported.
"We think that based on what we have achieved since our independence, we
have qualified ourselves for negotiations for entry into the EU," she
Sekerinska was speaking at the European Forum of political, economic and
cultural discussions in the Tyrolean resort of Alpbach. "The last
enlargement round (in May 2004) brought those countries democracy and economic
development," she explained. "We want more or less to use the same
recipe for the Balkans."
Sekerinska told forum newspaper Albach News she already had a firm schedule in
mind. "We hope that we will be a membership candidate by the end of this
year. We will try to start the negotiations in spring 2006, and we will finish
our job in less than four years."
Macedonia would be ready for EU membership by 2010, but one should not give
"undue importance" to the date on its own, the deputy prime minister
said, adding that it was important to carry out the necessary reforms.
Macedonia and Kosovo sign free trade agreement
By exchanging letters, Macedonia's Vice Premier, Minco Jordanov, and special
representative and head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in
Kosovo (UNMIK), Soren Jessen-Petersen, signed a provisional free trade agreement
between Macedonia and UNMIK, the Agency of Information reported on September 5.
UNMIK will start to implement this provisional agreement from the date of its
signing, while the formalisation will follow after its ratification in
The provisional agreement, which enables high level of trade liberalisation,
will be implemented according to the rules of the World Trade Organisation and
its duration is related with UNMIK mandate. As acknowledged, it is an asymmetric
agreement. Namely, the entire export trade of products from Kosovo to Macedonia
will be treated free of duty. Ninety per cent of Macedonia's export to Kosovo
will be free of duties, except for products which will have gradual reduction of
duty tax in two and a half- year transitional period.