Books on Macedonia
% of GDP
Update No: 104 (01/01/06)
Cameron's playboy host in fraud probe
In a bizarre revelation it appears that David Cameron, the new UK Conservative
leader, accepted hospitality from a company owned by a Macedonian playboy at the
centre of criminal investigations into alleged fraud and tax evasion. This was
disclosed by the Sunday Times in an article on December 11. It involves an
important issue, Macedonia's bid to join the European Union (EU).
The company in question paid for a four-day "junket," as he described
it himself, during which Cameron watched England's European Championship
football game in Skopje, the Macedonian capital.
His hosts were keen to lobby Cameron on Macedonia's case for entry to the EU,
which would bring them commercial benefits. Cameron later spoke in the Commons
pressing the Balkan state's EU claims.
Details of Cameron's trip in September 2003 have emerged after his confirmation
as Tory leader. The cost of his stay in the Aleksandar Palace, the five-star
hotel used by the England team, and his match ticket were met by Orka Holdings,
one of the country's top textile companies. Cameron says he paid for his
Orka has been at the centre of a number of criminal investigations in the past
two years for alleged tax evasion, employment of illegal workers and
multi-million-pound Vat fraud. It is owned by Jordan Kamcev, a tycoon whose two
divorces from the same woman and his new lover have made his private life the
stuff of soap opera in the press. Police have issued a warrant for his arrest to
question him over alleged tax offences.
In one raid on an Orka factory it was reported that illegal workers almost
suffocated after being hidden in cardboard boxes to avoid the inspectors.
Cameron - who was a back-bench MP at the time of the visit and now campaigns for
"compassionate conservatism" - declared the hospitality from Orka in
the Commons register of members' interests. The trip was organised through
Andrew Feldman, a college friend and tennis partner who accompanied him to the
football match. Feldman, a 39-year-old textile millionaire, is a member of
Cameron's Notting Hill set and is tipped to become a deputy treasurer of the
Tory party. He has been cast as a Tory version of Lord Levy - a reference to
Tony Blair's fundraiser - after handling Cameron's campaign finances.
Jayroma, his UK-based family company - which donated £10,000 to Cameron's
campaign - works in partnership with Orka, distributing its clothing in western
Europe and helping to finance at least one of its factories.
Cameron has described hospitality from Orka as a "junket". In a diary
he wrote for The Guardian he said: "All right, I admit it. Part of the
attraction of the visit was the chance to watch the vital England-Macedonia
football international." He eulogised David Beckham, scorer of the second
goal in England's 2-1 victory.
But there was also another purpose to the trip. In the days before the match,
Cameron met Boris Trajkovski, the president, and other politicians in the former
The visit appears to have persuaded Cameron that Macedonia had a strong case to
join Nato and the EU, membership of which would be beneficial to Feldman's
company and Orka because it would lift trade tariffs, although this cold not be
for many years.
Returning to Britain, Cameron took up the country's cause. Intervening in a
Commons debate in March 2004, he called for ministers to give Macedonia
assurances about its prospects for EU membership.
He also raised the matter in his diary article. He wrote: "(Europe must)
ensure there is a speedy framework for getting the former Yugoslav republics
into the EU so they can benefit from free trade and structural funds,"
which is a position many would agree with.
EU Commissioner negative about membership talks
The need to lobby for Macedonia's EU entry, if it is to take place at all, is
becoming clearer by the day - and not just to Cameron. There are those in the EU
who are decidedly lukewarm about the idea, which would only happen if Serbia was
brought in too, a tough proposition.
Brussels has urged Macedonia to step up efforts on reforms for eligibility for
membership talks with the 25-nation bloc. "Only a few years after being on
the brink of civil war, the country has achieved remarkable political stability
and democratic development, particularly thanks to the implementation of the
Ohrid Framework Agreement. She is currently the only functioning multi-ethnic
state in the Balkans, and thus a case in point that such a multi-ethnic model
can work. For these reasons the Commission can recommend the status of a
candidate country for Macedonia: however, the country is not ready to start
accession negotiations yet." European Commissioner in charge of EU
enlargement, Olli Rehn, said recently.
Speaking in Strasbourg at the European Parliament, Rehn added, "The (EU)
Commission is not rushing ahead to recommend accession negotiations before the
country is ready. We will assess the situation regularly and will recommend
opening negotiations only once a sufficient level of compliance with the
Copenhagen criteria is reached."
The proposal by the European Commission should be adopted by the governments of
the 25 EU member nations in December, and the problems with Greece could erupt
before Macedonia joins the EU, as Athens has threatened that the neighbouring
Balkan country can not enter the bloc with its current constitutional name:
Republic of Macedonia.
Greece and the European Union use the acronym "Former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia - FYROM," as admitted in UN since 1993. Macedonia is also the
name of Greece's northern province and Athens has been worried that the name
could imply territorial claims for its own province and make separatists seek
independence. Greece and Macedonia have been disputing over the name of the
Balkan country for more than a decade.
US co-hosts anti-trafficking conference in Macedonia
There is growing awareness that human trafficking and other types of organized
criminal activities pose a serious threat to democracy and that criminals are
exploiting democratic freedoms to undermine societies, an American diplomat said
during a southeast European conference on illicit trafficking. "The number
of democratic, free-market governments has grown consistently in Europe and
around the world," Gillian Milovanovic, the US ambassador to Macedonia,
said December 5 in Skopje, Macedonia. "Sadly, however, the very freedoms
that characterize democracy and free markets can be and are being exploited by
She told the conference that there is evidence that "transnational crime,
corruption and violence are on the increase. And it is equally clear that
trafficking undermines regional security, stability and economic
Milovanovic focused on human trafficking, noting that "No country,
including my own, is immune." It is estimated that between 15,000 and
20,000 people are trafficked into the United States every year, she said, and
"worldwide, there are estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 people are
trafficked across international borders every year."
The ambassador said that on December 3, the United States became an official
party to the U.N. Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in
Persons, Especially Women and Children -- also known as the Palermo Protocol.
Victims of human trafficking "are forced into prostitution, hard labour,
child soldiering and other forms of involuntary servitude - a fancy name for
slavery," Milovanovic said.
She called the Palermo Protocol "an important achievement …. It seeks to
prevent trafficking, protect victims and promote anti-trafficking cooperation
among nations - precisely the things you are engaged in here today."
The specific purpose of the conference was to enhance efforts at regional
cooperation against illicit trafficking. Milovanovic said the State Department's
annual report on human trafficking provides a basis for diplomatic engagement
with countries on the issue, and it helps promote action and national commitment
to fight the scourge of trafficking in persons. "In the last year alone, 39
countries have enacted new anti-trafficking laws, and 32 additional countries
are in the process of drafting or passing new anti-trafficking
legislation," she said.
The conference was co-sponsored by the Macedonia's ministry of foreign affairs
and the US Defence Department's George C. Marshall European Centre for Security
Studies. The three-day conference was attended by 70 government officials from
more than a dozen countries, according to a news release by the U.S. European
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, US Department
of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
Transport minister upbeat about developments in Macedonia
The legal environment created by the Macedonian Government has opened the door
to foreign investors and to the international business community for the
purposes of investment in the country, Minister of Transport and Communication,
Xhemali Mehazi, said on 9th December in an address to the session
"Necessary Pre-conditions for Successful European Integration," held
in Monte Carlo.
According to him, the only way to achieve economic benefits is to develop a link
between foreign investors and the international business community on the one
hand and all entities in the country, including Macedonia's Government, on the
other. "Concerning the railways, air transport and telecommunications,
agencies are being established as independent regulatory bodies in accordance
with the already established practice of the Agencies functioning in many
countries of the EU", Mehazi said.
"As far as the infrastructure construction is concerned, EU Corridors 8 and
10 remain to be priorities, whilst the efforts for their completion are
confirmed with the conclusions agreed by the High Level Transport Group at the
recently held meeting in Brussels," the Minister added.
In connection with the future investments for completion of the construction of
the road and railway network along Corridors VIII and X, as well as
modernisation of the two airports in Skopje and Ohrid, there is readiness for
granting concessions, which represents application of one of the models of the
Public Private Partnership or bank indebtedness.
Fitch assigns ProCredit Bank Macedonia BB
Fitch Ratings has assigned ProCredit Bank Macedonia (ProCredit Macedonia)
ratings of Long-term foreign currency BB; Short-term foreign currency B;
Long-term local currency BB+; Short-term local currency B; Individual D/E, and
Support 4. The Outlook is Positive for the Long-term foreign currency rating and
Stable for the Long-term local currency rating. The Long-, Short-term and
Support ratings are based on Fitch's view of the potential support the bank is
likely to receive from its owners in particular, ProCredit Holding AG PCH, rated
BBB- in case of need. The Long-term foreign currency rating is constrained by
the BB Country Ceiling of Macedonia, New Europe has reported.
PCH has a controlling stake in ProCredit Macedonia of 53.3 per cent. Other
shareholders include Kreditanstalt fuer Wiederaufbau rated AAA, which is
state-guaranteed and one of Germany's largest banks, as well as one of the
largest development banks in Europe; European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (EBRD); the Netherlands Development Finance Company, Nederlands
Financierings Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden NV, and International
Finance Corporation, which is a part of the World Bank Group.
The Individual rating reflects ProCredit Macedonia's small size and short track
record, significant shareholder funding, only recent achievement of
profitability, and difficult local operating environment. The bank's capital
ratios, while good at present, are set to fall in the medium term, due to
planned balance-sheet growth.
The Individual rating also takes into account the bank's good asset quality and
effective risk management to date, the latter largely reflecting PCH's
centralised group control in Frankfurt.ProCredit Macedonia started operations in
July 2003 and received a full banking license at end-2004. Total assets were 61
million Euro as of end-September 2005. The ProCredit banks were established to
provide financing to micro- and SME customers. The ProCredit network currently
consists of 19 banks in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Africa with total
assets of 1.9 billion Euro.
PCH is responsible for all major group functions, including strategic decisions,
risk management controls and group supervision.
Free trade agreement increases exports
Albanian and Macedonian business cooperation, the impact of the Free Trade
Agreement as well as the expansion of trade exchanges in different sectors of
economy between the two countries were discussed in a meeting consisting of
participants from Albania and Macedonia, New Europe reported.
The Director for WTO Relations at Ministry of Economy, Trade and Energy, Adriana
Civici, said that the Free Trade Agreement with Macedonia had a positive impact
by increasing Albanian exports which ran higher than imports. During the
meeting, the participants expressed their belief that the continuation of
foreign trade liberalization process will have an impact on products
manufactured for production and export, as well as in trade balance.