Books on Macedonia
% of GDP
Update No: 091 (26/11/04)
Ochrid agreement upheld in referendum
Some of Macedonia's districts will come under control of the representatives of
the Albanian minority, following the results of the referendum on November 7th
on the new territorial division held in the former Yugoslav republic. Only about
450,000 citizens out of 1.7 million people, or some 26%, entered into electoral
lists participated in the referendum, says the electoral committee of Macedonia.
A large majority of Macedonians who voted favoured annulling a law that redrew
districts in the Balkan republic and made the ethnic Albanians a dominant force
in 16 out of 84 districts - effectively granting Albanians a large degree of
self-rule. But the measure failed because voter turnout was just 26.2 per cent,
well below the 50 per cent minimum needed, according to official results.
Experts attribute the low turnout to the fact that the northern and western
regions of Macedonia where mostly Albanians live actually completely boycotted
the referendum. Ethnic Albanians account for about a quarter of Macedonia's
Therefore, the law on the division of the republic into "Macedonian"
and "Albanian" enclave areas, which was supported by most of the
parties forming the governmental coalition, is to automatically come into force.
The law on the country's new territorial arrangement is stipulated in the 2001
Ochrid peace agreement. Under the agreement, some districts of Macedonia are to
come under the control of the representatives of the Albanian minority.
"The referendum's outcome shows that most Macedonian citizens support the
reform of the local self-government system, which will ensure the country's
Trans-Atlantic future," one of the leaders of the ruling Social Democratic
Union of Macedonia, defence minister Vlado Buchkovski, said.
The poll was the initiative of the leaders of the Macedonian opposition. On the
eve of the referendum, they urged their supporters to come in large numbers to
the polling stations to express their disagreement with the country's division
approximating the Albanian proportion of the population.
International approval of the referendum result
The referendum that failed to revoke self-rule for minority ethnic Albanians
in Macedonia met democratic standards, international monitors said on November
8th, but hard-line opposition parties claimed widespread irregularities and
vowed to challenge the results in court.
Hard-line Macedonian opposition parties, which had demanded the referendum, said
they would challenge the turnout figures in court, alleging widespread
''We will challenge (the results) every way we can,'' said Todor Petrov, leader
of the Macedonian World Congress party.
But monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and
the Council of Europe said the referendum ``was generally consistent'' with
internationally accepted democratic standards.
''Limited cases of reported procedural and other irregularities did not appear
to challenge the overall integrity of the process,'' they said.
Opponents of the new laws argued that the legislation gave ethnic Albanians -
who account for about one-fourth of Macedonia's 2 million people - control over
western Macedonia, near the border with Albania, and could lead to the country's
The law, approved earlier this year, was part of a Western-brokered peace deal
to end government clashes with ethnic Albanian rebels three years ago.
International officials had warned that revoking rights for ethnic Albanians
could destabilize the country and undermine the former Yugoslav republic's
chances of joining the European Union and NATO.
President Branko Crvenkovski appealed to Macedonians to put aside ethnic
divisions. He invited ethnic leaders to meet on November 10th at the lakeside
resort of Ochrid, where the peace deal was signed in 2001, to reiterate ''our
political will and commitment of Macedonia to continue on its path toward
stability, democracy, multiethnic tolerance and full integration into the
European Union and NATO.''
The US makes a timely concession
In a concession to nationalist sentiment gratifying to the defeated
opposition, the US government has recognized the country's name as 'the Republic
of Macedonia,' a designation previously withheld because of the objections of
the Greek government on the grounds of the province of Macedonia in Greece of
the same name.
The Greeks who ten years ago were moving troops to the border, such was their
excitement over this issue, have not re-acted strongly to this development,
doubtless realising by now the truth of the old dictum; "What's in a
EBRD provides €45m for ESM pre-privatisation
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) provided €45m for the
pre-privatisation process of the Macedonian-based Electric Power Co (ESM), which
is to end in the next 24 months, according to MIA recently. Economy Minister
Stevco Jakimovski, ESM Director Pande Lazarov and EBRD Director Antony Marsh
signed the agreement. Jakimovski said the signing of this agreement demonstrates
the interest in the electric power system in the country. Expressing
satisfaction for EBRD participation in the ESM privatisation process, Marsh said
their participation will encourage other investors, who after the decreased
interest in investment in the energy sector in the past months, are again
starting to show interest.
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