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World > Europe > Macedonia > Foreign Relations (Notes)

Macedonia - Foreign Relations (Notes)


FOREIGN RELATIONS
In February 1994, Greece imposed a trade embargo on Macedonia due to disputes over the use of the name 'Macedonia' and other issues. Greece and Macedonia signed an interim accord in October 1995 ending the embargo and opening the way to diplomatic recognition and increased trade. After signing the agreement with Greece, Macedonia joined the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP). Athens and Skopje began talks on the name issue in New York under UN auspices in December 1995, opening liaison offices in respective capitals January 1996. These talks continue.

The stability of the young state was gravely tested during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, when Macedonia temporarily hosted about 360,000 refugees from the violence and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. The refugee influx put significant stress on Macedonia's weak social infrastructure. With the help of NATO and the international community, Macedonia ultimately was able to accommodate the influx. Following the resolution of the conflict, the overwhelming majority of refugees returned to Kosovo. A small number of Roma refugees from Kosovo remains in Macedonia, most of them housed in the predominantly Roma municipality of Suto Orizari in the Skopje suburbs, and supported by the UNHCR.

Macedonia enjoys good relations with its neighbors. It has strong trade and tourism ties with Greece, and has developed similarly robust political and trade ties with Albania and Bulgaria. Relations between Belgrade and Skopje are good overall, although a dispute between the Macedonian Orthodox Church and the Serb Orthodox Church has strained ties over the past two years. Relations with Kosovo are good, with Macedonia having signed an Interim Free Trade Agreement with UNMIK in 2005 and with regular bilateral political contacts occurring between Pristina and Skopje since 2005.

Macedonia also has made important strides toward Euro-Atlantic integration. Macedonia is an active participant in NATO's Partnership for Peace and Membership Action Plan, the OSCE, and United Nations, and was accepted as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October 2002. In May 2003, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, and the U.S. created the Adriatic Charter, modeled on the Baltic Charter, as a mechanism for promoting regional cooperation to advance each country's NATO candidacy. Since then, the Adriatic Charter countries have cooperated closely in regional military exercises, and have deployed a joint medical team to support international coalition operations in Afghanistan. In 1999, the EU agreed to pursue a Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with Macedonia; negotiations with Macedonia were launched April 5, 2000. The SAA was signed April 2001 and came into force in April 2004. Its trade and trade-related provisions have been in force since June 2001. For Macedonia to successfully integrate within the global arena, continued efforts to strengthen its multi-ethnic civil society institutions, to develop measures to promote economic growth and investment, and to foster strong indigenous non-governmental organizations are necessary. On November 9, 2005 the European Commission recommended EU candidate status for the country. It recommended beginning formal accession negotiations after Macedonia had made further progress on a number of reform fronts, including combating corruption; enacting judicial, administrative, and economic reforms; and conducting free and fair parliamentary elections, in accordance with European standards, in 2006. In December 2005, the European Council granted candidate country status to Macedonia, taking into account the 'substantial progress made in completing the legislative framework related to the Ohrid Framework Agreement, as well as its track record in implementing the Stabilization and Association Agreement (including its trade-related provisions) since 2001.' The Council also noted the need to consider further steps toward membership in light of the debate on the enlargement strategy, and the need for Macedonia to continue strong progress toward meeting the Copenhagen political criteria, as well as Stabilization and Association Agreement requirements.


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Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.



Facts at a Glance
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Climate
Current Time
Ranking Positions


Notes and Commentary
People
Economy
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.





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