Books on Macedonia
% of GDP
Update No: 113 - (26/10/06)
José Manuel Barroso, the president of the European
Commission, nominated Macedonia - officially: "the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia," or "F.Y.R.O.M." - as a candidate member state in
November 2005, a recommendation that was taken over by the European Council (the
European heads of government) one month later.
Vigorous EU and NATO diplomacy prevented the outbreak of a Kosovo-like civil-war
between native Macedonians and ethnic Albanians in 2001, but tensions have
occurred ever since. Guiding Macedonia to the EU altar might be a good incentive
for consolidating a lasting peace in the country.
New government wants to join NATO 2009, EU 2013, says premier
Macedonia has a new centre-right government with a young reformist prime
minister, Nikola Gruevski. He is a 36-year-old former finance minister and
banker whose new government coalition took power in August. He laid out his
vision for his country on October 16th. He wants it
to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by 2009 and the European Union by
Gruevski, in an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa, underlined that a
firm EU and NATO membership perspective was vital for ensuring political
stability in the entire Balkans region. "We are very dedicated to
continuing the process of EU integration and NATO integration," said
Macedonia wants to be invited to join NATO at the Alliance's 2008 summit and
formally accede either that year or in 2009, said Gruevski, who was in Berlin on
his first official foreign visit for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Gruevski called on the EU to next year set a date for starting negotiations to
join the 25-nation bloc and said Macedonia should become a full member in
"six or seven years." He admitted Macedonians were
"disappointed" over a growing anti - enlargement mood in older EU
states amid concern over the Union's "absorption capacity" to deal
with new - and poorer - members.
"We are too small a country to be a problem ... we only have two million
people," said the Macedonian premier, adding this was less than many
European cities, including Berlin with its population of 3.4 million. But it is
not alone in wanting to join, if one adds up all the aspirants together, it
comes to a lot more.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has drawn a line against any
new members for a while, undoubtedly reflecting popular opinion. He said in
early October that it was impossible at present to give Macedonia any timetable
for EU membership.
Economic recovery at last; 'fully focused on reforms'
Gruevski underlined that progress in Brussels toward EU membership was vital
because it would encourage people in his country to support tough measures
needed to revamp the economy and institutions required for admission to the
elite club. "We are fully focused on reforms - especially the economy and
the fight against corruption and criminality," vowed the Macedonian leader.
After years of stagnation, Macedonia's economy began posting serious growth in
2003 and last year grew by 3.7 per cent.
Seeking stronger growth, the government is implementing a flat-tax of 12 per
cent for both personal income and corporate profits from January 1, 2007 and
will reduce both rates to 10 per cent from January 1, 2008, said Gruevski.
Social stability a 'priority'
But the economy is only one of Macedonia's challenges.
Maintaining stability in the country - which almost lurched into a civil war in
2001 between its ethnic Macedonian majority and Albanian minority comprising a
quarter of the population - remains the other overriding government priority,
He said up to 95 per cent of the terms of the 2001 Ohrid Agreement, under which
ethnic Albanian extremists laid down their arms in exchange for greater rights,
had been accepted.
"But not all of them are implemented. So our task is to implement the rest
of the Orhid Agreement and to keep the stability," said Gruevski, adding
that getting more Albanians into the public sector remained a key goal.
Turning to the neighbouring mainly Albanian region of Kosovo - ruled by the
United Nations since 1999 after Serbian troops were defeated in a NATO-led war -
Gruevski insisted his country could live with any final status agreement.
"If the final decision will be independence we are ready to accept
this," he said. Negotiations for Kosovo's final status began early this
year and most observers expect the province to win some form of independence
from Serbia to which it still formally belongs.
Gruevski cautioned, however, that strict guarantees were needed from the
international community to prevent radical Albanians from making any claims
against his own country.
What's in a name?
Regarding Macedonia's dispute with Greece over its name - Greece insists the
country be called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) - Gruevski
said he was optimistic a compromise deal could be reached.
While declaring that giving up his country's constitutional name "is not
possible," he said it would be possible to use a different name for all
bilateral agreements with Greece.
Athens fears that recognising the name Macedonia could imply territorial claims
on a northern Greek region also called Macedonia, the homeland of Philip of
Macedon and Alexander the Great no less.
Greek companies are investing heavily in Macedonia despite the name dispute,
said Gruevski, with a grin, adding: "I believe that the Greek political
class will understand the same thing in the future." He noted that the
United States, Russia, China and over 100 other countries had recognised the
constitutional name Macedonia. Members of the EU do not, due to Greek
"If it's possible in the future ... we would like to be recognised under
the constitutional name from Germany," said Gruevski, adding that he had
"big hopes" for Berlin's EU presidency next year. However, Berlin is
unlikely to change its position on the issue. The Greeks are more important by
far than the Macedonians. There is a long tradition of Hellenism in Germany,
going back to the eighteenth century. As there is in the UK and France which
helped Greece win its independence in 1821-31, Schliemann and Troy, Byron and
Missolonghi still resonate today.
EBRD acquires 25% in Macedonia's TTK Bank
The EBRD acquired 25 per cent of TTK Bank AD Skopje, a medium-sized bank in
Macedonia, to promote its restructuring and growth plans, news website
reporter.gr recently reported.
Part of that restructuring process includes the implementation of an
Institutional Building Plan (IBP) that will help develop TTK into a modern,
efficient institution. The IBP will particularly help raise corporate governance
standards to international levels, strengthen control processes and risk
management procedures and train staff. The IBP will be financed through
technical cooperation funds from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Director of the EBRD's Bank Equity team Antero Baldaia said the bank's
investment will help make TTK a more efficient bank and help strengthen its
finances to reach more small and medium enterprises (SMEs), therefore supporting
economic growth at the grass-roots levels. A big challenge in Macedonia is to
consolidate the many financial institutions into more efficient, streamlined
institutions, and this project demonstrates exactly that, he added. Established
in July 2006, following the merger of two smaller banks - Teteks-Kreditna Banka
AD Skopje, and Tetovska Banka AD Tetovo - TTK is based in Macedonia's capital
city Skopje. While the bank operates in six locations in Skopje and 16 in
another 11 cities throughout the country, the Tetovo region in North West of
Macedonia remains TTK's stronghold. The bank's largest shareholder is Teteks, a
textile firm from Tetovo. Chairman of the Board of Directors at TTK Gligorie
Gogovski said the bank is growing into a major financier of SMEs in Macedonia,
and having the EBRD as a shareholder will help raise its position on the local
banking market through the quality of its services and its professionalism. Bank
General Manager Atanas Spiroski added that TTK already has a client base of more
than 7,000 entities, and that the signing supports TTK's strategy to expand its
operations. The EBRD is one of the largest investors in Macedonia, having
committed more than 406 million Euro in 25 projects.
Macedonia's long-term foreign debt up to 1.7bn Euro
Macedonia's long-term foreign debt rose to US$2.183 billion at the end of
August, from a revised US$2.161 billion a month earlier, news website
reporter.gr said, citing the central bank's preliminary data.
Macedonia's new borrowing through August totalled US$276.57 million. Macedonia
paid US$385.60 million to service its long-term foreign debt in January-August
World Bank's Katsu meets with top Macedonian officials
World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, Shigeo Katsu, started a
three-day visit to Macedonia on September 27th, Makfax reported.
According to the agenda, Katsu held talks with Macedonia's Prime Minister,
Nikola Gruevski, members of the government's economic team and National Bank of
Macedonia President, Petar Goshev. In the course of his visit, Katsu was also
due to meet with the Mayors of Ohrid and Tetovo.