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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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Update No: 116 - (25/01/07)

Progress commended on fifth anniversary of Ohrid Accord 
The fifth anniversary of the Ohrid Peace Accord, which brought an end to the 2001 interethnic conflict in Macedonia, was marked in the second half of last year. Ahead of the occasion, the EU, NATO, OSCE and US envoys in Skopje released a joint statement praising Macedonia's progress in the development of a stable, democratic and multiethnic state. 
It said that most laws envisaged in the accord have been adopted, and that crucial processes -- such as decentralisation and proportional representation of ethnic communities in state administration -- were under way. 
Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski vowed that his government would work to complete the remaining obligations under the Ohrid agreement. Two laws called for in the accords -- one on the police and another on use of languages -- remain to be implemented. 
Gruevski suggested that the country move away from populist rhetoric and focus on confidence building measures. Speaking at a conference titled "Ohrid Framework Agreement: Five Years After", Gruevski called for broad political consensus on the country's main goals -- European integration, better interethnic relations and economic growth.

Rupel supports launching of Macedonia-EU negotiations in 2008
Macedonia was the poorest of the Yugoslav republics, with a GDP per capita one-fifth that of the richest, Slovenia. The Slovenes are already in the European Union (EU). It is appropriate that they are lending their poorer brethren a helping hand to enter the organization soon.
Slovenia reconfirmed pledges to be a strong lobbyist for Macedonia's ambition to launch the negotiations with EU for membership in the Union in early 2008.
"Starting the negotiations between Macedonia and EU will be one of the priorities of the Slovenian six-month presidency over the Union commencing in January next year", Slovenian Foreign Minister, Dimitrij Rupel, said at a joint press conference with his Macedonian counterpart Antonio Miloshoski.
Repeating the similarly toned message that Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa sent on Thursday from Strasbourg, Rupel emphasized that before the EU negotiations Macedonia is faced with hard work on reforms. "Prime Minister Janez Jansa announced recently in Strasbourg that Slovenia will boost the efforts for launching of the negotiations, however, it doesn't mean Macedonia should go idle and wait for the negotiations to take place", Rupel said.
As regards the scepticism voiced by some EU members about Macedonia's readiness, Rupel said it all depends on Macedonia itself. "I don't expect any problems to come from EU member-countries, but in case Macedonia fails to meet the EU supplied tasks. I believe Macedonia is capable of meeting the requirements until Slovenian takes over the EU presidency," Slovenian Foreign Minister said.
Macedonian Minister Antonio Miloshoski thanked Prime Minister Jansa for the statement, saying "it came at the right moment. I wasn't good at chemistry in school, but it is obvious that between Macedonia and Slovenia there is excellent chemistry of affinity and strategic partnership, which we will keep nourishing."
Ministers Miloshoski and Rupel also discussed the situation in the region, notably the forthcoming elections in Serbia and the status of Kosovo, whereas they concluded the similarity of Macedonian and Slovenian positions. Answering reporter's question whether unmarked northern border of Macedonia with Kosovo could have serious implications regarding the European integration, Rupel said that "it is a serious problem, but not so crucial".
"I don't remember the demarcation issue to have been emphasized in EU debate, but, on the other hand, it was judicial and police reforms and the implementation of Ohrid Framework Agreement", said Rupel.
Ministers Miloshoski and Rupel on Friday signed an Agreement between Macedonian and Slovenian Foreign Ministries on diplomatic-consular assistance for Macedonian citizens in Slovenian embassies in Israel, India, Argentina and Japan.
Within his one-day visit to Macedonia, Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs also met Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, and was received by chief of state Branko Crvenkovski and Parliament speaker Ljubisha Georgievski. 

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The following is an informed account of a vital matter:-

Controversy in Macedonia over law on religious groups
Proposals to liberalise the registration of religious groups have run into objections from the country's main religious institutions, the Macedonian Orthodox Church and the Islamic Religious Community. 
By Marina Stojanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje - 
The Macedonian government, in consultation with the OSCE, has been drafting new legislation to amend the Law on Religious Communities and Groups. However, a stumbling block has arisen over proposals to liberalise the registration process, a move called for by the European Commission. 
Current law recognises a single religious community for people of a particular denomination. The Macedonian Orthodox Church (MOC) is considered the representative of the Orthodox denomination, while the Islamic Religious Community (IRC) represents the Muslim denomination. 
The MOC, IRC and the Roman Catholic Church have all come out in favour of maintaining the current system, rather than allowing the establishment of more than one religious community for each denomination. 
Proponents say the liberalisation would give religious groups more freedom to choose their denominational orientation, thus potentially introducing more diversity. 
According to the MOC, however, liberalisation would open the door for registration of the Ohrid Archbishopric in Macedonia, which is headed by a controversial bishop of the Macedonian Orthodox Church, Jovan Vraniskovski. He is currently imprisoned at the Idrizovo penitentiary for misusing donations at the diocese he previously headed. 
The IRC, meanwhile, says the proposed changes would lead to the registration of an independent Bektesi Community, a move it opposes. 
After a meeting between Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and MOC officials, it was announced that negotiations on amending the law would continue. However, no specific solution has been chosen. 
In parallel with the registration issue, the MOC has sent a letter to the Serbian Orthodox Church, proposing continuation of their dialogue regarding a decades-long church dispute. The Serbian church continues to deny ecclesiastical independence to the MOC, instead offering it autonomy. But MOC bishops insist on an auto cephalic church under its own constitutional name. 

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ENERGY

Greek electricity utility planning bid on Negotino

Greek electricity utility Public Power Corp (PPC) is planning to bid for 100 per cent of the Negotino 320 megawatt power station in Macedonia, MRT Online reported. 
It plans to do so through its SENCAP consortium, which also includes Italian energy group Enel and US group Contour Global, sources were cited as saying. According to the sources, Macedonia's Finance Ministry will call a tender for the Negotino power station and bidders are due to install a new unit which will burn natural gas or coal. 

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

Hungarian premier visits western Balkan leaders

Hungarian Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsany, recently visited the western Balkan region, meeting the leaders of Macedonia, Bosnia and Albania, an official told AENews on November 20th. 
Gyurcsany made his first stop in Bosnia-Herzegovina for talks with government leaders and the chairman of the House of Peoples and the House of Representatives, government spokeswoman, Emese Danks, said. In Macedonia, Gyurcsany met with his counterpart and other leaders. According to Maxfax news agency, the Hungarian premier said that a realistic timeframe for inviting Macedonia to join NATO is 2008, whereas for accession to the European Union, difficult work lies ahead for the country. He also said that Hungary would back Macedonia at this week's Riga Summit, Maxfax reported. 
On the third and final day of his Balkan tour, Gyurcsany visited the Albanian capital, Tirana to attend a Central European conference and meet with Albanian Prime Minister, Sali Berisha, President Alfred Moisiu and the parliament chairman. 

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