Books on Macedonia
% of GDP
Update No: 100 (25/08/05)
PM in constitutional talks with opposition
Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski has had consultations in July and August with
representatives of the parliamentary opposition, meeting the leaders of
Agriculture-People's Party and Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP) [PPD in
Albanian], Marjan Gjorcev and Abdylhadi Vejseli respectively. However, Arben
Xhaferi, leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) [PDSh in Albanian],
refused a meeting with the prime minister.
Key meetings were held with Liberal Party (LP) leader Stojan Andov. Andov has
presented his proposals on constitutional changes to Buckovski. However, LP will
present its final proposals for constitutional changes at a public debate on
this matter, Andov said.
He was referring to his pledge for the Parliament to elect the country's
president. "We have had no presidential elections without incidents and
contention of the results. Each president, elected so far, has had serious
disputes with the government," Andov said, adding that changing of the
method for electing the country's president would contribute to the efficiency
of the executive authority.
He expects a calming of the security situation in the country, saying that
recent developments in the Islamic religious community, which are an attempt at
spreading extreme Islam in Macedonia, have been playing a significant role in
the Kosovo situation.
Death of a president
The constitutional debate was intensified in February, 2004, when Macedonia
suffered a major reverse. President Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane
crash. The government plane, carrying six other officials, went down in bad
weather over Bosnia.
His successor, President Branko Crvenkovski, elected in June, 2004 has been a
gritty fill-in for someone who had been an outstanding success, bringing peace
to the troubled land in autumn 2001with the Ochrid Accord. But Crvenkovski
provoked huge controversy by his attitude to a vital referendum on
decentralisation in November last year, demanded by nationalists, which was
nullified by an insufficient number of signatures being collected. This allowed
new laws to pass, accepting an accommodation with the Albanian minority,
strongly opposed by Macedonian nationalists.
"It is the constitution that is the basis for new laws on decentralisation
aimed at creating ethnically diverse, financially stronger and politically more
powerful municipalities," the then premier, Hari Kostov said at the time in
an interview with Southeast European Times.
"The Macedonian government is meeting constitutional obligations for
further implementation of the Framework Agreement. Decentralisation is seen as a
significant step toward a stronger democracy and the Euro-Atlantic integration
of Macedonia. I believe all the citizens in Macedonia are aware of these
processes, which should not have a destabilising effect on the country. Instead,
they emphasise the democratic approach to solving problems, which we have
already proved by signing the Framework Agreement and having it implemented in
the constitution and laws," Kostov said.
"The security situation in Macedonia should not be connected with the
referendum despite individual -- I would say, unserious -- statements by some
political parties. The security situation is stable, and this is also the
opinion given by responsible international institutions. The government and
responsible ministries will provide the conditions for citizens to cast their
votes in a democratic and safe atmosphere."
New premier and new government
But Kostov's government did not last into the new year. The new president
officially gave Vlado Buckovski -- Macedonia's defence minister -- the mandate
to form a new government, after the ruling Social Democratic Alliance of
Macedonia (SDSM) elected him as its leader during an extraordinary congress.
Buckovski replaced Kostov, who had resigned as prime minister.
Buckovski won 391 votes in the second round after all three candidates for the
post failed to garner an absolute majority. Deputy Prime Minister Radmila
Sekerinska was second with 265 votes. Parliament member Tito Petkovski also ran
for the post; he won 144 votes during the first round.
The new government was put to parliamentary debate and confirmation in
Difficulty of reform
Macedonia is pushing ahead with its reforms. It would be unreasonable to
suppose that this could be anything other than a very difficult process. For
instance, NATO's senior military representative to Macedonia, Brigadier General
Dennis Blease, cited corruption and judicial inefficiency as obstacles to
Macedonia's entry into NATO.
Blease praised the reforms in the Macedonian defence sector, but urged more
efforts to resolve the judicial deadlock.
The revenant past
But the death of Trajkovski continues to haunt Macedonian politics. Todor
Petrov, head of the World Macedonian Congress, claims that there may have been
foul play in the death of Trajkovski, whom, he alleges, would never have
accepted the cancellation of the November referendum.
"Petrov deserves to be medically examined for his statements about the
murder of ex Macedonian President Trajkovski. His statements do not need to be
politically analysed," Valentin Nikolovski, spokesman of Macedonian
President Branko Crvenkovski, told FOCUS News Agency. "Petrov claims that
late Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski was killed because he had said that
he would not sign the Bill on Territorial Division of Macedonia."
Petrov accused Crvenkovski, who was Prime Minister at that time, of warning
Trajkovski of murder if he refused to sign the Bill. "The information about
the plane crash near Mostar was very contradictory and many facts arouse the
suspicion that a classical murder had been committed," Todor Petrov said.
The Balkans abound with conspiracy theories. But actually the weather conditions
at the time were particularly bad. Premier Nano of Albania refused to fly to
Mostar on that particular day in February, 2004, no doubt much to his relief on
hearing of Trajkovski's death.
Siemens plans in Macedonian energy industry investment
German industrial giant Siemens is seriously planning to invest in the
Macedonian energy industry, the Skopje-based economic weekly Kapital has
reported, citing the local media. Referring to sources within the government,
Kapital claimed that Siemens is highly interested in building a thermal power
plant in Skopje and in three smaller hydro power plants in Macedonia. Kapital
added that Siemens would have fewer dilemmas about investment in energy, if
Macedonia Electric Power Company (ESM) was bought by one of the two largest
German electric power companies, EON or RVE, with whom Siemens closely
cooperates, even outside Germany.
Macedonia collects Dutch grant
The Netherlands transferred 6.3m Euro to the Macedonian government, along with
the second instalment of the World Bank PSALM loan for the public sector
management, the Dutch embassy at Skopje said in a statement on July 7th, New
The grant of 6.3m Euro is part of the Dutch overall support, linked with PSALM
for Macedonia of 15.3m Euro. The first instalment of nine million Euro was
transferred in 2004. The Dutch Government, in close cooperation with the World
Bank, will keep supporting Macedonia's reforms for improving the living standard
of all citizens of the country.
Macedonia to join CEFTA end-2005
Macedonia will become a member of the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA)
by the end of this year, Croatian Economy Minister, Branko Vukelic, said after
the meeting of the CEFTA's Joint Committee, held on July 9th in Zagreb, New
CEFTA's Joint Committee reviewed Macedonia's application for CEFTA membership.
"The three members of CEFTA - Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania - expect
Macedonia to join the free trade association by the end of 2005. Macedonia's
accession will be formalised at the summit of prime ministers of CEFTA member
states, scheduled for November in Zagreb," Vukelic told Zagreb's daily
Kosovo and Macedonia enter free trade deal
Kosovo began the provisional implementation of a free trade agreement with
neighbouring Macedonia on August 3, seeurope.net reported, citing the United
Nations in a statement.
Kosovo's customs authorities will continue to collect taxes on oil and some
agricultural products with tariffs gradually decreasing until 2008, and Kosovo's
products will have duty free access to Macedonia's market, the statement said.
The implementation of the deal follows months of negotiations between UN and
government officials in Kosovo and Macedonia authorities. The agreement was
concluded more than a month ago, but Skopje has not yet formalised it, officials
were quoted as saying.
The UN mission "is starting to provisionally implement the free trade
agreement so as to not cause delays for Kosovo's economy to benefit from
it," said Mechthild Henneke, a spokeswoman for the global body. "We
understand that authorities in Macedonia are continuing to consider the
documentation that will formalise the agreement."
Kosovo officially remains a province of Serbia-Montenegro. It has been
administered by the United Nations for the past six years following NATO's air
war aimed at stopping the crackdown of Serbian troops on the province's
separatist ethnic Albanians. Since then, Kosovo has remained split between
ethnic Albanians who want it to be independent and ethnic Serbs who want it to
remain part of Serbia.
Kosovo's economy remains in tatters, with unemployment estimated at more than 50
percent. The province has had a free trade pact with Albania since mid-2003.
Macedonia says industrial production on steady growth
Macedonia's industrial production increased 14.2 per cent in June 2005 compared
with production in the same month last year, New Europe reported.
This increase in production was contributed by the main industrial groups:
intermediate goods industries (except energy) by 29.7 per cent, and non-durable
consumer goods industries by 7.3 per cent. In comparison with the May 2005 it
increased 4.1 per cent and in comparison with June 2003 it rose 8.8 per cent.
The industrial production in the manufacturing industry increased 14.9 per cent
in June. Industrial production in the mining and quarrying section climbed 65.3
per cent in June in comparison with average production in June 2003.