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MACEDONIA


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 4,705 3,712 3,400 118
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,980 1,700 1,690 111
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
25,333

Population 
2,071,210

Capital 
Skopje 

Currency
Dinar 

President
Branko Crvenkovski

Private sector 
% of GDP 
45%




Update No: 095 (31/03/05)

Doubtful elections yet again
Democracy is the universal ideal today. But it is harder to practice, than to claim allegiance to it.
The OSCE mission that observed March 27th's runoff local elections said that the vote did not meet OSCE or Council of Europe standards. "Serious violations were again noted on election day in a number of areas of the country, including some where gross irregularities were observed" during the first round on March 13th, said Julian Peel Yates, head of the mission.
During a news conference in Skopje, he criticised the government for failing to address problems that emerged during round one. Preliminary results show the ruling coalition won in 35 municipalities, but lost to the opposition in 18, including Skopje, Bitola and Prilep. Ali Ahmeti's ethnic Albanian Democratic Union of Integration won control of ten municipalities. 

Macedonia, the maverick
The modern FYROM does, indeed, have its troubles. It is a small, remote and very poor country beset by ethnic divisions. The most notable is that the majority are Macedonian Slavs, but with a large and vociferous minority of Albanians, concentrated in the north. 
Macedonian Slavs have long feared that the Albanian minority wants to secede and form a Greater Albania or, at a minimum, unite with their brethren in Kosovo. Albanians in Macedonia want language rights and more representation in government, especially in the police. 
Macedonia was one of the six republics of Yugoslavia, whose rump it left in 1992. Although many had predicted another explosion, as in Bosnia and Kosovo, the worst has not happened. 
But Macedonia could yet be another European cockpit for the simple reason that it has been before. It became the object of partition in the second Balkan War in 1913, which left Bulgaria at dagger's point with Greece and Serbia, its former allies against the Ottomans. Even today, most Bulgarians insist that Macedonia is simply Western Bulgaria.

Macedonia to the Macedonians
There is a very interesting thinker in Macedonia called Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. He is the author of "Malignant Self-Love - Narcissism Revisited" and "After the Rain - How the West Lost the East." He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, Bellaonline, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia. Sam Vaknin's Web site is at http://samvak.tripod.com 
This is a recent disquisition of his, commencing with a series of most apposite -quotes, that shows all his flair for history, so necessary to understanding the politics of the Balkans, which we quote at length - 
"Two hundred and forty-five bands were in the mountains. Serbian and Bulgarian comitadjis, Greek andartes, Albanians and Vlachs ... all waging a terrorist war."
Leon Sciaky in "Farewell to Salonica: Portrait of an Era" 
"(Goce Delcev died) cloak flung over his left shoulder, his white fez, wrapped in a bluish scarf, pulled down and his gun slung across his left elbow..."
Mihail Chakov, who was nearby Delcev at the moment of his death, quoted in "Balkan Ghosts" by Robert D. Kaplan 
"I will try and tell this story coldly, calmly, dispassionately ... one must tone the horrors down, for in their nakedness, they are unprintable..."
A.G. Hales reporting about the Illinden Uprising in the London "Daily News" of October 21, 1903 
"The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization directs its eyes neither to the West, nor to the East, nor to anywhere else; it relies primarily on its own powers, does not turn into anybody's weapon, and will not allow anybody to use its name and prestige for personal and other purposes. It has demonstrated till now and will prove in the future that it establishes its activities on the interests and works for the ideals of struggling Macedonia and the Bulgarian race."
Todor Alexandrov, The Leader of the IMRO from 1911 to 1924

Horror upon terror upon horror upon terror
The Treaty of Berlin killed Peter Lazov. A Turkish soldier first gouged his eyes out, some say with a spoon, others insist it was a knife. As the scream-imbued blood trickled down his face, the Turk cut both his ears and the entirety of his nose with his sword. Thus maimed and in debilitating agony, he was left to die for a few days. When he failed to do so, the Turks disembowelled him to death and decapitated the writhing rump.
The Ottomans granted independence to Bulgaria in the 1878 Treaty of San Stefano unwillingly, following a terminal defeat at the hands of a wrathful Russian army. The newly re-invented nation incorporated a huge swathe of Macedonia, not including Thessaloniki and the Chalcidice Peninsula. Another treaty followed, in Berlin, restoring the "balance" by returning Macedonia to Turkish rule. Turkey obligingly accepted a "one country, two systems" approach by agreeing to a Christian administration of the region and by permitting education in foreign languages, by foreign powers in foreign-run and owned schools. Then they set about a typical infamous Ottoman orgy of shredded entrails, gang-raped corpses of young girls and maiming and decapitation. 
The horrors this time transcended anything before. In Ohrid, they buried people in pigsty mud for "not paying taxes". Joined by Turks who escaped the advancing Russian armies in North Bulgaria and by Bosnian Moslems, who fled the pincer movement of the forces of Austro-Hungary, they embarked on the faithful recreation of a Bosch-like hell. Feeble attempts at resistance (really, self-defence) - such as the one organized by Natanail, the Bishop of Ohrid - ended in the ever-escalating ferocity of the occupiers. A collaboration emerged between the Church and the less than holy members of society. Natanail himself provided "Chetis" (guerilla bands) with weapons and supplies. In October 1878, an uprising took place in Kresna. It was duly suppressed by the Turks, though with some difficulty. It was not the first one, having been preceded by the Razlovci uprising in 1876. But it was more well organized and explicit in its goals.

A complex mosaic of geopolitical tensions 
But no one - with the exception of the Turks - was content with the situation and even they were paranoid and anxious. The flip-flop policies of the Great Powers turned Macedonia into the focus of shattered national aspirations grounded in some historical precedent of at least three nations: the Greeks, the Bulgarians, and the Serbs. Each invoked ethnicity and history and all conjured up the apparition of the defunct Treaty of San Stefano. Serbia colluded with the Habsburgs: Bosnia to the latter in return for a free hand in Macedonia to the former. The wily Austro-Hungarians regarded the Serbs as cannon fodder in the attrition war against the Russians and the Turks. In 1885, Bulgaria was at last united - north and formerly Turk-occupied south - under the Kremlin's pressure. The Turks switched sides and allied with the Serbs against the spectre of a Great Bulgaria. Again, the battleground was Macedonia and its Bulgarian-leaning (and to many, pure Bulgarian) inhabitants.
Further confusion awaited. In 1897, following the Crete uprising against the Ottoman rule and in favour of Greek enosis (unification), Turkey (to prevent Bulgaria from joining its Greek enemy) encouraged King Ferdinand to help the Serbs fight the Greeks. Thus, the Balkanian kaleidoscope of loyalties, alliances and everlasting friendship was tilted more savagely than ever before by the paranoia and the whims of nationalism gone berserk.

Order of identity out of a nightmare
In this world of self-reflecting looking glasses, in this bedlam of geopolitics, in this seamless and fluid universe, devoid of any certainty but the certainty of void, an anomie inside an abnormality - a Macedonian self-identity, tentative and merely cultural at first, began to emerge. Voivode Gorgija Pulevski published a poem "Macedonian Fairy" in 1878. The Young Macedonian Literary Society was established in 1891 and started publishing "Loza", its journal a year thereafter. Krste Misirkov, Dimitrija Cupovski, the Vardar Society and the Macedonian Club in Belgrade founded the Macedonian Scholarly-Literary Society in 1902 (in Russia). Their "Macedonian National Programme" demanded a recognition of a Macedonian nation with its own language and culture. They stopped short of insisting on an independent state, settling instead for an autonomy and an independent church. Misirkov went on to publish his seminal work, "On Macedonian Matters" in 1903 in Sofia. It was a scathing critique of the numbing and off-handed mind games Macedonia was subjected to by the Big Powers. Misirkov believed in culture as an identity preserving force. And the purveyors and conveyors of culture were the teachers.
"So the teacher in Yugoslavia is often a hero and fanatic as well as a servant of the mind; but as they walked along the Belgrade streets it could easily be seen that none of them had quite enough to eat or warm enough clothing or handsome lodgings or all the books they needed" - wrote Dame Rebecca West in her eternal "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" in 1940.
Goce Delcev (Gotse Deltchev) was a teacher. He was born in 1872 in Kukush (the Bulgarian name of the town), north of Thessaloniki (Salonica, Solun, Saloniki). There is no doubt about his cultural background (as opposed to his convictions later in life) - it was Bulgarian to the core. He studied at a Bulgarian gymnasium in Saloniki. He furthered his education at a military academy in Sofia. He was a schoolteacher and a guerilla fighter and in both capacities he operated in the areas that are today North-Central Greece, Southwestern Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia. He felt equally comfortable in all three regions. He was shot to death by the Turks in Banitsa, then a Bulgarian village, today, a Greek one. It was in a spring day in May 1903.

Unholy unrest
His death was sufficient to ignite the Illinden uprising three months later. It erupted on the feast of Saint Illiya (Sveti Ilija). Peasants sold their sacrificial bulls - the fruits of months of labour - and bought guns with the proceeds. It started rather innocuously in the hotbed of ethnic unrest, Western Macedonia - telegraph wires were cut, some tax registers incinerated. 
The IMRO collaborated in this with the pro-Bulgarian organization Vzhovits. In Krusevo (Krushevo) a republic was proclaimed, replete with "Rules of the Macedonian Uprising Committee" (aka the "Constitution of the Uprising"). This document dealt with the liberation of Macedonia and the establishment of a Macedonian State. A special chapter was dedicated to foreign affairs and neighbourly relationships. It was all heart-achingly naive and it lasted 10 bloody days. Crushed by 2000 trained soldiers and horse-bound artillery, the outnumbered 1200 rebels surrendered. Forty of them kissed each other goodbye and blew their brains out. 
The usual raping and massacres ensued. According to Turkish records, these ill-planned and irresponsible moments of glory and freedom cost the lives of 4,694 civilians, 994 "terrorists". The rape of 3,000 women was not documented. In Northwestern Macedonia, an adolescent girl was raped by 50 soldiers and murdered afterwards. In another village, they cut a girl's arm to secure her bracelets. 
The more one is exposed to these atrocities, the more one is prone to subscribe to the view that the Ottoman Empire - its halting and half-hearted efforts at reform notwithstanding - was the single most important agent of retardation and putrid stagnation in its colonies, a stifling influence of traumatic proportions, the cause of mass mental sickness amongst its subjects.

The West to the rescue
As is usually the case in the bloodcurdling geopolitical sandbox known as the Balkans, an international peacekeeping force intervened. Yet it was - again, habitually - too late, too little.
What made Delcev, rather his death, the trigger of such an outpouring of emotions was the IMRO (VMRO in Macedonian and in Bulgarian). The Illinden uprising was the funeral of a man who was a hope. It was the ululating grieving of a collective deprived of vengeance or recourse. It was a spasmodic breath taken in the most suffocating of environments. This is not to say that IMRO was monolithic or that Delcev was an Apostle (as some of his hagiographers would have him). It was not and he was far from it. But he and his two comrades, Jane (Yane) Sandanski and Damyan (Dame) Gruev had a vision. They had a dream. The IMRO is the story of a dream turned nightmare, of the absolute corruption of absolute power and of the dangers of inviting the fox to fight the wolf.
The original "Macedonian Revolutionary Organization" (MRO) was established in Sofia. The distinction between being a Macedonian and being a Macedonian-Bulgarian was not sharp, to use a polite understatement. The Bulgarians "proper" regarded the Macedonians as second class, primitive and uncultured Bulgarian relatives who inhabit a part of Bulgaria to the east. 
The Macedonians themselves were divided. Some wished to be incorporated in Bulgaria, the civilized and advanced society and culture. Others wanted an independent state - though they, too, believed that the salvation of such an entity - both demographic and financial - lies abroad, with the diaspora and benevolent foreign powers. A third group (and Delcev was, for a time, among them) wanted a federation of all states Balkan with an equal standing for a Macedonian polity (autonomy). The original MRO opted for the Bulgarian option and restricted its aims to the liberation and immediate annexation of what they solemnly considered to be a Turkish-occupied Bulgarian territory. To distinguish themselves from this MRO, the 6 founders of the Macedonian version - all members of the intelligentsia - added the word "Internal" to their name. Thus, they became, in November 1893, IMRO.

Modern Macedonia
The modern Republic of Macedonia is today ruled by a party called VMRO-DPMNE. It is one of a few political parties to carry this name and the biggest and weightiest amongst them by far. It is founded on the vision and ideals of Goce Delcev and has distanced itself from the "Terrorist-IMRO". 
The picture of Delcev adorns every office in both Macedonia and Bulgaria and he is the closest to a saint a secular regime can have. In 1923, the Greeks transferred his bones to Bulgaria. Stalin, in a last effort to placate Tito, ordered Bulgaria to transfer them to Macedonia. Even in his death he knew no peace. Now he is buried in his final resting place, in the tranquil inner yard of the Church of Sveti Spas (Saint Saviour). A marble slab bearing a simple inscription with his name under a tree, in a Macedonia which now belongs to the Macedonians.

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ENERGY

Macedonia, Russian oil giant discuss cooperation

Macedonian Prime Minister, Vlado Buckovski, and Dimitriy Tarasov, vice president of the Russian oil company, LUKoil, didn't discuss concrete investments at a recent meeting, but agreed forming working groups that will make an estimation of the situation in Macedonia on the possibility of building oil gas stations.
"We have started talks for investments of LUKoil in the country, aiming at boosting the competitiveness, sale, and quality of the oil products," Minco Jordanov, vice-premier for economic issues said after the meeting.
He informed that they also reviewed the possibility for investments in Skopje-based chemical factory OHIS [Organic and Chemical Industry Skopje]. 
Tarasov said that the meeting was a start of mutual cooperation.
"We set the guidelines for cooperation and the period for organization of the working groups for building gas stations in the country. The government has created a favourable business climate, which will enable us to make a decision on concrete investments. But we didn't discuss investments at the meeting," Tarasov said.

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FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION

Macedonian, Turkish premiers stress good relations, economic cooperation

Turkey is a traditional friend and proven ally to Macedonia since its independence, Macedonian Prime Minister, Vlado Buckovski, said after the March 15th meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Ankara, MIA News Agency reported.
Buckovski said that besides bilateral relations and situation in the region, they discussed possibilities for intensifying of economic cooperation and increasing the flow of Turkish investments in Macedonia.
Buckovski announced that a meeting of the Mixed Experts Commission for Economic Cooperation would take place in May, focusing on the Free Trade Agreement between Macedonia and Turkey.
He also invited Turkish businessmen to invest in Macedonia, saying that the Macedonian side has showed interest for investments in the sphere of infrastructure, energy and health care.
The meeting also focused on the differences regarding the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece. Buckovski expressed gratitude in that context for the recognition of Macedonia's constitutional name by Turkey.
Both prime ministers also discussed cooperation in the defence sector and the experiences of Skopje and Ankara in the EU integration, as well as Turkish support for Macedonian membership into NATO. 
Erdogan said that the intensifying of cooperation and mutual trust would contribute to increasing the direct Turkish investments in Macedonia. According to him, the protocol on cooperation between Macedonian and Turkish governments, signed earlier by Vice-Premier Jordanov and Turkish State Secretary, Besir Atalay, would give an additional contribution in that sphere.
The Turkish PM stressed that Turkey was interested in assisting in the restoration of cultural-historic monuments in Macedonia, such as the Stone Bridge and the Old Bazaar.
Buckovski also visited the memorial complex Antikabir, built in honour of the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.
The Macedonian PM was also scheduled to meet Turkish President, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and parliament Speaker of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Ismail Alptekin.

Macedonian PM, Serbian deputy PM discuss economic ties, EU, NATO accession

Macedonian PM, Vlado Buckovski, met Miroljub Labus, Serbian deputy PM and minister for foreign economic relations recently, MIA News Agency reported.
They discussed bilateral relations between the two states, establishing intensified economic relations, and regional cooperation.
Buckovski and Labus expressed their satisfaction from intensified contacts at different levels between the Republic of Macedonia and Serbia.
Two business forums are to be held in the two countries by the end of the year, which will boost economic relations and trade exchange.
They agreed joint commissions of the Ministries of Economy of the two countries to meet aimed at reviewing Free Trade Agreement signed between Macedonia and Serbia and Montenegro. Two governments will boost regional access towards realisation of infrastructural projects and Macedonia's capacities in agriculture will be used.
"We are happy about Macedonia's progress in NATO and EU integration and every success of our neighbours is mutual and represents a positive signal for the entire region," Labus said.
"The Republic of Macedonia could be so-called mentor to Serbia and Montenegro in preparations for signing of Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, as well as to share its experiences acquired in the preparations for NATO and EU membership," Buckovski said, adding that Macedonia fully supports Serbia and Montenegro's efforts for admission in Partnership for Peace programme.
They welcomed and encouraged the initiatives for dialogue between the Macedonian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church and the announced meeting between church dignitaries of the two churches.
"Macedonia and Serbia must not be hostages of possible differences between Macedonian Orthodox Church and Serbian Orthodox Church," PM Vlado Buckovski said.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

State minister addresses Turkish-Macedonian Business Forum

"Turkey is the best friend of Macedonia, which shares the same geography," said Turkish State Minister, Kursad Tuzmen, Anatolia news agency reported.
Speaking at a Turkish-Macedonian Business Forum meeting, Tuzmen said Turkey has been exerting efforts for Macedonia to have a more influential and strong position in the international community and international organizations.
"Turkey and Macedonia do not only share a common past but also a common future within Europe which is gradually integrating," Tuzmen noted. 
Tuzmen said: "Economic and commercial relations of the two countries are not at the desired level despite their close relations in political, cultural and social areas."
Stating that Turkey considered Macedonia as an extremely important country of the Balkans due to its geo-strategical position, developing economy and workforce, Tuzmen said joint investments should be increased to improve trade.
"We believe that Turkey is one of the main countries which may play an important role in economic development of Macedonia," Tuzmen said and noted that, "we closely monitor the telecommunication, energy and natural gas projects in this country. Turkish companies are willing to participate in every kind of infrastructure and superstructure projects."

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

MT telecom targets education

This year FYR Macedonian Telecommunications (MT) will invest 500,000, enabling free ADSL-internet link for 350 primary, secondary schools, universities and research institutions in the country, MIA reported recently. 
"Since the start of 'Internet Schools' project, realised in cooperation with the ministry of education and science from 2001 to 2003, FYR Macedonian Telecommunication invested 350,000, providing Internet access to 50 schools. In 2004, the company invested 80,000 equipping these schools with ADSL link," MT official Atila Sendrei was quoted as saying.

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