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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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

Update No: 115 - (20/12/06)

The barbarians come good
The Macedonians occupy an unfortunate part of the Balkans. They have no access to the sea. They are bounded by Bulgaria, Greece, Albania and former Yugoslavia. 
Macedonia may be a backwater; but it is a Balkan backwater - which means that it counts. The one thing that became evident in 1999 was that the Balkans are European; hence mayhem there matters and needs to be addressed.
Macedonia is in negotiations with the EU and NATO. A piece of the complex Balkans jigsaw puzzle it is becoming a force that counts.

Papal benediction
An instance of this is that a top Macedonian delegation led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had an official audience on December 14th with the Head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI. Gruevski said the meeting focused on Macedonia-Vatican relations and thus Macedonia could rely on the Holy See's support for Macedonian aspirations for EU accession.
"We can rely on Vatican as supporter and partner to the Republic of Macedonia," said Gruevski, adding that" both interlocutors also talked about the situation in Macedonia, being an EU candidate country-Vatican's support for EU is extremely important for us (Macedonia)."
Furthermore, he briefed the Pontiff on Government's plans to establish religious instructions in schools and to renovate Mother Theresa's house.(Mother Theresa was born in Skopje when this mainly Orthodox country was a part of the Ottoman empire). 
The Pontiff was informed of the new law on holidays, as well as with Government's plans for establishing religious instructions in schools. 
It was a very pleasant moment to be in the Vatican, added Gruevski. He said that meetings were held with Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and with Secretary for Relations with States Monsignor Dominique Mamberti.
"We've invited them to Macedonia, to attend the conference which is due to take place in October. It will be a conference for peaceful and civilised dialogue." According to Gruevski, Radio Vatican might start broadcasting programmes in Macedonian language as of next year.

Balkan squabbles
The meeting also focused on Greece's name dispute with Macedonia. The Pope has to be non-committal here.
In the course of the meeting with Benedict XVI, Gruevski briefed him on the Macedonian Orthodox Church's dispute with the Serbian Church. "I've elaborated the absurdity of the situation that's taking place with the Serbian Orthodox Church. They are mostly neutral on the issue, however they've always had determined their own influence," said Gruevski.
He visited St. Clement's Basilica, where he laid flowers on St. Cyril's tomb. The delegation, paying the first official visit to Vatican, included the Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki and Vice PMs Zoran Stavreski and Imer Selmani.

Government coordination meeting on seized firearms 
The police on December 14th seized weapons during a routine control of three trucks with Bulgarian register plates. The firearms included 300 pieces of machine guns calibre 7,62mm with 300 stands, and 33 mortars calibre 120mm. The truck drivers have been detained, along with nine other individuals.
Gun-running is endemic in the Balkans and needs to be curbed. No sooner was Gruevski back from Rome than he held a coordination meeting with Interior and Defence Ministers Gordana Jankulovska and Lazar Elenovski on December 18th, focused on details regarding the latest occurrences related to the case of firearms and their illegal transport, says a Government press release. It was not revealed to whom these weapons were being supplied.
Gruevski asked for a swift resolution of the case and a determination of responsibility of all individuals involved, because the incident could have an effect on Macedonia's image. Annulment of the contract with factory MZT and dismissal of the Macedonian Army (ARM) Commander of Logistical Support are some of the measures that the Defence Ministry has undertaken upon the revelation of the illegal transfer of weapons with Bulgarian trucks.
Defence Minister Lazar Elenovski stated on the same day that he had asked the General Staff, the army service for security and intelligence, as well as the logistics sector to prepare a report on their role and the tasks that should be undertaken regarding the case.
"We will not allow any illegal activities in the Defence Ministry," said Elenovski, adding that they would protect the Ministry's rating in any way possible, along with the Government's rating, and Macedonia's international reputation.



Renova invests 4m Euro in new production units 

Building materials producer Renova of Macedonia has allocated four million Euro for the construction of two factories in 2006, in Bitola, south-western Macedonia and in Albania, website said. 
Renova's investments in production amount to 20 million Euro. The company's nine months sales revenue rose by 23.27 per cent year-on-year to 4.1 million Euro. The company estimates a 14.25 per cent increase in production for 2006.



Tender announced for third mobile operator 

Four domestic telecom companies and nine foreign companies expressed interest in becoming Macedonia's third mobile operator. The tender for the new mobile operator was announced in October and the deadline for submission of the bids is January 12th, MRT Online reported. 
By July 2007, the company will be ready to activate. T-Mobile and Cosmofon are the two current mobile operators in Macedonia with 1.3 million users, amounting to about 62 per cent of the population. Comparative analysis has shown that this number is below the average in countries in the region, and far behind EU countries. If the third mobile operator contributes to lowering the prices and improving the service conditions, usage is expected to increase, it was reported. To enter the Macedonian market, the company should make a single payment of at least five million Euro for the usage of frequencies. Bidding companies must verify compliance with this term with a bank guarantee bond amounting to the sum they plan to pay. The winning bidder must fulfil certain conditions. Firstly, the company must start operating within six months. Its signal must cover 30 per cent of the country in the first year, 50 per cent in the second year and 90 per cent by the fourth year. 
The transportation and communications ministry will issue construction licenses for the base stations to the new mobile operator. Another key condition is that the candidates must currently have at least two million users and have made annual profits of more than 300 million Euro in 2004 and 2005. The selections criterion is on the basis of the price offered. The third mobile operator will have the right to use the frequencies for the next 10 years, with a possible 10-year extension. "The government promised that it would make this large step within 60 days from coming to power," Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was quoted by the news agency as saying. "The government has delivered on the promise," he added. 




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