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MACEDONIA


 

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)

Books on Macedonia

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
25,333

Population 
2,071,210

Capital 
Skopje 

Currency
Dinar 

President
Branko Crvenkovski

Private sector 
% of GDP 
45%




U
pdate No: 112 - (26/09/06)

The Macedonians have a high regard for NATO, which in 1999 won the Albanians generally over to a peaceful, pro-Western path. Actually, an event five years ago, 9:11, had a positive repercussion in Macedonia; its local Albanian insurgents laid down their arms in late September 2001, ending the threat of yet another Balkan war.

But trouble is brewing again
After the 5th July elections won by the centre-right, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski chose not to form a government with the main ethnic Albanian party - the Democratic Union of Integration (DUI), which got the support of 62 per cent of the ethnic Albanians, Macedonia's biggest minority.
He instead formed a coalition with the smaller Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA).
Since then, the DUI has been refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the government arguing that the voice of ethnic Albanians is being ignored.
On 11th September, the former leader of the 2001 ethnic Albanian guerrilla group and current president of DUI, Ali Ahmeti, told reporters that Macedonia could enter into "a dangerous situation" amid strong dissatisfaction among most Albanians that their preferred party, the DUI, has been excluded from the new government. 
The June 2001 Ohrid Agreement - brokered by EU and NATO diplomacy - ended seven months of heavy fighting between Albanian separatists and Macedonian security forces in Macedonia. But Mr Gruevski's centre-right VMRO-DPMNE opposed the Ohrid agreement legislation adopted by the previous government led by the centre-left.
This makes the prospect of joining NATO an urgent one. No civil war has ever broken out in one of its member states, unless one regards the colonels' coup in Greece as one, which in a sense it was, clamping down a most unwelcome regime for seven years until overthrown in 1974.

NATO: Riga Summit to send signal on enlargement
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the upcoming Alliance Summit in Riga will send a "signal" on enlargement, after meeting with the Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski.
Mr. Gruevski, who was appointed Prime Minister following the July elections, visited NATO HQ on 12th September, to discuss with the Secretary General his country's progress towards meeting the requirements of NATO's Membership Action Plan.
"This is a performance-based process, without automaticity," the Secretary General told reporters, "But there will be, I hope and I am sure, an encouraging signal at the Riga Summit."
Prime Minister Gruevski underlined the importance of the country's reform process, both for its relationship with the Alliance and for the people of the country. "We are going to strengthen efforts…to join NATO," he said. "What NATO is asking of us is to implement reforms which will improve the quality of life of citizens."
Mr Gruevski said that tackling corruption and reform of the judiciary and police were some of the key priorities.

From consumer to producer
The Secretary General praised the country for its defence reform and contribution to NATO-led operations.
"The Prime Minister is representing a country which is not only a consumer but also a producer, of security," said Mr. De Hoop Scheffer.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been involved in NATO's Partnership for Peace programme, which builds cooperation and interoperability with the Alliance, since 1995. NATO led a peacekeeping operation in the country until 2003. Today, the country contributes to and supports NATO operations in Afghanistan and Kosovo.

No Guarantees for Macedonia Getting Date for Start of EU Talks in 2007 
The Macedonians naturally want to join the EU too. But this will certainly take longer. For in the EU they would immediately qualify for huge subsidies as the poorest former Yugoslav state. They would be consumers of Brussels largesse with a vengeance, and beneficiaries of it as poor producers. 
Nevertheless, Skopje last December scooped official EU candidate membership status and will be subject to a key progress report in November.
There are no guarantees that Macedonia will get a date for start of the talks with EU in 2007. That is the message which Gruevski received in Brussels in a mid-September visit. It is not the moment now to announce the date and it is too early to speak, was the direct message of Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union to Gruevski.
"I don't think this is the moment to speak for concrete dates. As I said two days before, the EU leaders are changing their priorities every day. The world is changing very fast and it is too early to tell", Solana added. He was waiting for reforms, results, the development of the economy.

EU warns Macedonia on Albanian minority rights deal
The EU wants to retain leverage over Skopje and its policies for as long as possible, before admitting it to membership, of which it is, nevertheless, in the long-run assured. There are many in Brussels and elsewhere in the union who regard the adhesion of Bulgaria and Romania, due in January, as having been agreed too precipitously.
Brussels is well aware of the fractious state of Macedonian politics post-June. It has urged Macedonia to respect the June Ohrid 2001 agreement on Albanian minority rights if it wants to stay on track in its EU accession bid. EU foreign policy commissioner Javier Solana and EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn met Premier Gruevski in Brussels on 13 September, amid concern over looming instability in the country with ethnic Albanians challenging Skopje's new centre-right government. 
"I hope very much that he will have good luck in the determination he has to move the country forward. I have asked him to move forward in the application of the Ohrid Agreement that for us [the EU] is a fundamental element," Mr Solana said.
The EU has now told the Macedonian leader that the Ohrid legislation is a key component of reforms for Macedonia's road to EU membership. 
Commissioner Rehn said that disputes with ethnic Albanians must be resolved by a political dialogue between his cabinet and the DUI. "It is important to have a broad political consensus on a country's road to EU membership. The government and opposition must show the willingness for political dialogue that one can expect from a mature democratic country such as the Republic of Macedonia ", Mr Rehn told reporters.
"They must dance this tango together and create the necessary channels of communication," Mr Rehn added.
DUI officials said the first draft of a proposal related to minorities that Mr Gruevski's government has prepared - on the police sector - is aiming at centralisation by removing competencies from municipal police to newly designed regional authorities - contrary to the goal of decentralisation in the Ohrid Agreement.
"The draft-law on the police sector clearly demonstrates that VMRO-DPMNE led government's first priority is to strengthen the competences of the central government on the sector which is against the provisions of the Ohrid Agreement," senior DUI politician and former deputy prime minister Musa Xhaferi told DTT-NET.COM.
Mr Xhaferi said the majority of Ethnic Albanians "have no trust" for the current government led by the party which "during the last four years has voted against all the legislation related to the Ohrid Agreement and also had organised a referendum in 2004 against the self-rule rights at municipal level - which failed."

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ENERGY

Hydro power plants tender deadline extended 

The Macedonian government extended the deadline for an expression of interest in a tender relating to the construction of two hydro power plants worth a total of 538.6 million Euro by one month, news reports said on September 12th. 
The deadline for the international public competition for submitting letters of interest was extended to October 12th. The public tender relates to the implementation of a build-operate-transfer concession contract for the Cebren and Galiste hydro power plants. The cost of the construction of the Cebren hydro power plant is estimated at 338.38 million Euro, while the cost of Galiste power plant is forecasted at 200.241 million Euro, New Europe reported. 

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FOREIGN INVESTMENT

EBRD's investment to increase 

EBRD investments in Macedonia will increase over the next two years to help further promote the country's transition process and reform agenda, the bank announced, it was reported on September 1st.
In its latest strategy for the country, EBRD said that investments will focus on supporting and attracting local and foreign businesses, working with the financial sector to develop a wider range of products and to increase financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The bank will also promote infrastructure projects, including privatisations. There will be a particular focus on projects that benefit businesses and people, such as roads, airports, as well as on regional projects. The bank will also help push forward the reform agenda, particularly in areas such as the judiciary system, the fight against corruption, as well as improving the business climate for investors, particularly SMEs. EBRD investments to date amount to more than 403 million Euro, New Europe reported.

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PHARMACEUTICALS

Alkaloid invests 2m Euro in SAP software 

Macedonia's leading drug maker Alkaloid announced that it was planning to buy SAP business software in a two-million-Euro project to modernise and computerise its operations, New Europe reported.
The implementation of the SAP system is scheduled to be completed next July, Alkaloid said. Alkaloid is one of the 10 most liquid shares and the largest company by market capitalisation on the Macedonia Stock Exchange. The company had 353.9 million denars in net profit for 2005, down 30.3 per cent on the year. Alkaloid is the market leader in Macedonia with annual sales of 15 million Euro, with a market share of 20 to 25 per cent based on sales. 

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

EBRD's investment to increase 

EBRD investments in Macedonia will increase over the next two years to help further promote the country's transition process and reform agenda, the bank announced, New Europe reported.
In its latest strategy for the country, EBRD said that investments will focus on supporting and attracting local and foreign businesses, working with the financial sector to develop a wider range of products and to increase financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The bank will also promote infrastructure projects, including privatisations. There will be a particular focus on projects that benefit businesses and people, such as roads, airports, as well as on regional projects. The bank will also help push forward the reform agenda, particularly in areas such as the judiciary system, the fight against corruption, as well as improving the business climate for investors, particularly SMEs. EBRD investments to date amount to more than 403 million Euro.

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