Foreign relations of the Republic of Macedonia

Foreign relations of the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia

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the Republic of Macedonia

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Key priorities

Key priorities in the foreign relations are:[1]

  • Promotion of the Republic of Macedonia as a NATO candidate country, active participation within the established institutional framework – Partnership for Peace, EAPC, implementation of the NATO Membership Action Plan – aiming at creating conditions for receiving membership invitation at the 2008 NATO Summit. Participation in peace missions (UN, NATO, EU) in support of peace, security and stability.
  • Fulfilling the required criteria and their presentation for the purpose of ensuring that the EU will bring a decision on a date for start of EU membership negotiations. As an EU candidate country, in the accession process the Republic of Macedonia builds internal legal mechanisms, instruments and capacities for harmonization with the EU Acquis in this area and for making active contribution to the development of CFSP and ESDP.
  • Continuous strengthening of the strategic partnership with the United States, while devoting special attention to the relations and cooperation also with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.
  • Good-neighborliness, friendship and readiness for comprehensive cooperation with neighbor-countries in numerous areas of mutual interest. Strengthening the mutual trust and, at the same time, a complementary factor on the way of the Republic of Macedonia to the EU and NATO.
  • Active participation in the work of international organizations, UN and its specialized agencies, WTO – and at the regional level – OSCE, Council of Europe against global threats: terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, global warming, organized crime, damages to the environment, economic and social issues, disrespect for human rights etc.
  • Promotion of the national, cultural and spiritual identity beyond the borders of the Republic of Macedonia.
  • Regard for the communities and minorities living outside the state borders and improvement of their legal status and the treatment of the Macedonian National Minority abroad, in accordance with the international agreements as well as with the concluded bilateral agreements and treaties.

International recognition

The Republic of Macedonia became a member state of the United Nations on April 8, 1993, eighteen months after its independence from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It is referred within the UN as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", pending a resolution, to the long-running dispute about the country's name. Unusually, the country's flag was not raised at UN Headquarters when the state joined the UN.[2] It was not until after the country's flag was changed that it was raised at the UN Headquarters.[2] Other international bodies, such as the European Union,[3] European Broadcasting Union,[4] and the International Olympic Committee [5] have adopted the same convention. NATO also uses the reference in official documents but adds an explanation on which member countries recognise the constitutional name.[6]

All UN member states currently recognise Macedonia as a sovereign state, but they are still divided over what to call it. A number of countries recognise the country by its constitutional name – the Republic of Macedonia – rather than the UN reference, notably four of the five permanent UN Security Council members (the UK, the United States,[7] Russia, and the People's Republic of China) and over 120 other UN members.[8]

Foreign relation of Macedonia
  recognition and diplomatic relations

List of countries and entities recognising the country and established diplomatic relations

List of countries and entities with no formal diplomatic relations with the country

Bilateral relations


Macedonia and Albania have friendly and cooperative relations. Recently (Aug. 2008) they signed a treaty enabling visa-free movement between the countries. Both countries support each others ethnic minorities in cultural, political and educational aspects. During the ethnic conflict in 2001, the Albanian government did not interfere and supported peaceful resolution.


Macedonia and Bulgaria have cooperative neighbourly relations. On 15 January 1992 Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the independence of the Republic of Macedonia [9]. Bulgaria has however refused to recognise the existence of a separate Macedonian nation and a separate Macedonian language. It argues that the Macedonians are a subgroup of the Bulgarian nation and that the Macedonian language is a dialect of Bulgarian. This leads to some complications when signing treaties between these countries—they are signed with this long phrase in the end: "done in the official languages of the two states—Bulgarian language, according to the Constitution of Bulgaria and Macedonian language, according to the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia".

Macedonia has generally good relations with Bulgaria in the political, economic, and military spheres. The governments of the two countries work to improve business relations. Bulgaria supports the Macedonian bid to enter the EU and NATO. Bulgaria has also donated tanks, artillery, and other military technology to the Macedonian Army.

The rules governing good neighbourly relations agreed between Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia were set in the Joint Declaration of February 22, 1999 reaffirmed by a joint memorandum signed on January 22, 2008 in Sofia.[10]

Reacting to the publication of a controversial[11][12][13][14][15] encyclopedia by the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU) in 2009, Bulgaria warned that “it is unacceptable for a country aspirant for NATO and EU membership to resort to terminology typical for the ideology of the Cold War era,” and that the encyclopedia “gives no contribution to strengthening of the neighborly relations and curbing down of the ‘hatred speech’.”[16]

In connection with the administrative, police and other types of pressure allegedly being exercised on Bulgarian citizens and Macedonian citizens with Bulgarian self-identification in the Republic of Macedonia, on 4 August 2009 the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry declared that “Bulgaria will examine the approach of the Macedonian side in such cases as one of the criteria on the basis of which to assess the country’s readiness to make the changes that would allow the European integration of the Republic of Macedonia.”[17]

Bulgaria has proposed to sign a treaty (based on that 1999 Joint Declaration) guaranteeing the good neighbourly relations between the two countries, in order to enable Bulgarian support for the accession of the Republic of Macedonia to the European Union.[18][19]

P.R. China and R.O. China

On 12 October 1993, the Government of the Republic of Macedonia and the Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Macedonia expressly declaring that the Government of the PRC is the sole legal government of China, and Taiwan as an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. The Government of the Republic of Macedonia affirmed it would not establish any form of official relations with Taiwan.[20]

Notwithstanding the above, the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) established diplomatic relations on 27 January 1999.[21] This development increased the number of the ROC's diplomatic allies in Europe from one to two (the other being the Holy See). The PRC was opposed to this and in retaliation vetoed the UN resolution renewing the mandate of the UNPREDEP (a peacekeeping force) in the Republic of Macedonia. On 28 April 1999, the Republic of Macedonia opened an embassy in Taipei, ROC.[22] The Republic of Macedonia and the PRC normalized their relations on 18 June 2001.[23] On the same day, the ROC severed diplomatic relations with the Republic of Macedonia.[22] In the joint communiqué between Macedonia and People's Republic of China, the Republic of Macedonia recognized "emphatically that there is but one China in the world, that the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory".[23]



Under pressure from Greek diplomats, Mexico severed all diplomatic relations with Macedonia on October 2008.[3]


Macedonia and Serbia traditionally have friendly relations. Serbia is a main trading partner and recognizes its neighbour under the constitutional name - Republic of Macedonia. Macedonians in Serbia are a recognized national minority, same as Serbs in the Republic of Macedonia. However, the non-recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church by the Serbian Orthodox Church and Macedonia's recognition of Kosovo as an independent state are disturbing the relations of these two countries.


Macedonia and Kosovo have very friendly and cordial neighbourly relations[citation needed] which mainly are due to the ethnic Albanian poulations that Live inside Macedonia. In October 2008, the Republic of Macedonia recognized Kosovo as an independent state with plan to establish diplomatic relations. Kosovo recognized the neighbouring country under the constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia.[24] Also in October 2008, a bilateral agreement was signed between the two countries after the border between the two was physically marked by a joint committee.[25] Kosovo and Macedonia have signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2005 to facilitate trade opportunities, investment conditions and improve good-neighbourly relations.[26]


Macedonia and Greece have excellent economic and business relations with Greece being the largest investor in the country. However, the indeterminate status of the Republic of Macedonia's name arises from a long-running dispute with Greece. The main points of the dispute are:[27]

  • The name: see Macedonia naming dispute.
  • The flag: the use of a WIPO-protected Greek state symbol symbol (resolved, see below).
  • Constitutional issues: certain articles of the constitution that were seen as claims on Greek territory (resolved, see below).

The naming issue was "parked" in a compromise agreed at the United Nations in 1993. However, Greece refused to grant diplomatic recognition to the Republic and imposed an economic blockade that lasted until the flag and constitutional issues were resolved in 1995.


Macedonia and Slovenia have very close political and economic relations. Once part of SFR Yugoslavia, the two republics declared independence in 1991 (Slovenia in June, Macedonia in September) and recognised each other's independence on 12 February 1992.[28] Diplomatic relations between both countries were established on 17 March 1992.[29] Slovenia supports Macedonia's sovereignty, territorial integrity, its Euro-integration and visa liberalisation.[28][30] A significant number of Slovenian investments ended up in the Republic of Macedonia. In 2007, about 70 million euros were invested.[31] In January 2009, the Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski announced, that he expects more Slovenian investments in infrastructure and energy projects.[31] Over 70 Slovenian companies are present on the Macedonian market.[28]


Due to historical and cultural mutualities and human bonds Macedonia and Turkey have very close and friendly relations.[32] Shortly after Macedonia declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 Turkey was among the first countries to recognise Macedonia's sovereignty.[33] Bilateral relations were established on 26 August 1992.[34] Macedonia has an embassy in Ankara and a consulate–general in Istanbul, while Turkey has an embassy in Skopje and a consulate-general in Bitola.

United States

US President George W. Bush with the political leaders of Macedonia in 2008

The United States and the Republic of Macedonia enjoy excellent bilateral relations.[35] The United States formally recognized Macedonia on February 8, 1994, and the two countries established full diplomatic relations on September 13, 1995. The U.S. Liaison Office was upgraded to an Embassy in February 1996, and the first U.S. Ambassador to Skopje arrived in July 1996. The development of political relations between the United States and Macedonia has ushered in a whole host of other contacts between the two states. In 2004, the United States recognized Macedonia under its constitutional name - Republic of Macedonia.


Naming issue

Flag issue

The former flag of Republic of Macedonia (used from 1992-1995)

The Republic of Macedonia's first post-independence flag caused a major controversy when it was unveiled. The use of the Vergina Sun on the flag offended Greeks, as they regarded the symbol as being associated with King Philip II of Macedon and by extension with his son, Alexander the Great. The Greek viewpoint was summed up in an FAQ circulated on the Internet in the late 1990s:

The Vergina Sun, the emblem of Philip's dynasty, symbolizes the birth of our nation. It was the first time (4th century BC) that the Greek mainland (city-states and kingdoms) with the same language, culture, and religion were united against the enemies of Asia in one league. At the same time the fractured Greek world grew conscious of its unity. And, in this sense, we have never been apart since then. The "Sun" was excavated in Greece in 1978, and it is sacred to us.[36]

The symbol was removed from the flag under an agreement reached between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece in September 1995. The Republic agreed to meet a number of Greek demands for changes to its national symbols and constitution, while Greece agreed to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic and end its economic blockade.[37]

Constitutional issue

The Republic of Macedonia's first post-independence constitution, adopted on November 17, 1991 included a number of clauses that Greece interpreted as promoting secessionist sentiment among the Slavophone population of northern Greece, and making irredentist claims on Greek territory. Article 49 of the constitution caused particular concern. It read:

(1) The Republic cares for the status and rights of those persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonian expatriates, assists their cultural development and promotes links with them. In the exercise of this concern the Republic will not interfere in the sovereign rights of other states or in their internal affairs.
(2) The Republic cares for the cultural, economic and social rights of the citizens of the Republic abroad. [38]

The Greek government interpreted this as a licence for the Republic of Macedonia to interfere in Greek internal affairs. Given long-standing Greek sensitivities over the position of the country's minority groups, the government saw this as being the most serious of the three main issues affecting relations between the two countries; the issue of the republic's symbols, by contrast, was seen as being of much less substantive importance, even though it aroused the loudest political controversy. The Greek prime minister at the time, Constantine Mitsotakis, later commented that

What concerned me from the very first moment was not the name of the state. The problem for me was that [we should not allow] the creation of a second minority problem in the area of western [Greek] Macedonia [the first minority being the turkish-speaking Greeks of western Thrace]. My main aim was to convince the Republic to declare that there is no Slavomacedonian minority in Greece. This was the real key of our difference with Skopje. [39]

The offending articles were removed under the 1995 agreement between the two sides.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.

  1. ^ Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia: GOALS AND PRIORITIES
  2. ^ a b Article on Former Yugoslav states
  3. ^ European Commission. "Background information — The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia". Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  4. ^ European Broadcasting Union. "Members' Logos". Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  6. ^ North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "The situation in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is critical". Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  7. ^ "US snubs Greece over Macedonia". BBC News Online. 2004-11-04. Retrieved 2006-10-01. 
  8. ^ MIA Kosovo is the 127th country that the Republic of Macedonia has established diplomatic ties with under its constitutional name.
  9. ^ Republic of Macedonia, bilateral cooperation. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria, official website, 10 September 2011.
  10. ^ Bulgarian Policies on the Republic of Macedonia: Recommendations on the development of good neighbourly relations following Bulgaria’s accession to the EU and in the context of NATO and EU enlargement in the Western Balkans. Sofia: Manfred Wörner Foundation, 2008. 80 pp. (Trilingual publication in Bulgarian, Macedonian and English) ISBN 978-954-92032-2-6
  11. ^ Macedonia’s first encyclopedia provokes protests. Euranet, 23 September 2009.
  12. ^ Kosovo Slams Macedonia Over Encyclopaedia., 22 September 2009.
  13. ^ Macedonian Encyclopaedia To Be Changed. Eurasia Press and News, 24 September 2009.
  14. ^ FYRMacedonia: "Macedonian Encyclopedia" withdrawn. EMportal, 26 September 2009.
  15. ^ Macedonia embroiled in encyclopaedia row. Euractiv, 13 October 2009.
  16. ^ Bulgaria joins growing criticism of Macedonian Encyclopedia. Independent News Agency Makfax, 24 September 2009.
  17. ^ Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Official website, 04.08.2009.
  18. ^ Bulgaria's Position Concerning Macedonia Unchanged – Kalfin. The Sofia Echo, 31 July 2006.
  19. ^ Bulgaria Treaty Proposal Called 'Indecent'. BalkanInsight, 17 March 2010.
  20. ^ Joint Commnique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations Between the People's Republic of China and the Repulbic of Macedonia
  21. ^ ROC Government Statement
  22. ^ a b ROC Yearbook 2009
  23. ^ a b Joint Communiqué Between The People's Republic of China And The Republic of Macedonia On The Normalization of Relations
  24. ^ Macedonian Information Agency
  25. ^ Southeast European Times, Oct. 26 2008: Macedonia, Kosovo agree on border demarcation
  26. ^ UNMIK, Focus Kosovo: Kosovo’s Free Trade Agreements
  27. ^ Floudas, Demetrius Andreas; "A Name for a Conflict or a Conflict for a Name? An Analysis of Greece's Dispute with FYROM",". 24 (1996) Journal of Political and Military Sociology, 285. 1996. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  28. ^ a b c Republic of Slovenia - Government Communication Office
  29. ^ Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Established full diplomatic relations with the Republic of Macedonia
  30. ^ Government of the Republic of Macedonia
  31. ^ a b Vecer Online
  32. ^ Republic of Turkey - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (English)
  33. ^ Government of the Republic of Macedonia (English)
  34. ^ Republic of Macedonia - Ministry of Foreign Affairs (English)
  35. ^ Makfax Agency United States of America congratulate President Ivanov on his inauguration and are looking forward to continuing of the excellent relations with Macedonia
  36. ^ Never Say Never Again (1998-11-15). "Macedonian FAQ (Hellenic)". alt.religion.christian.east-orthodox. (Web link). Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  37. ^ Floudas, Demetrius Andreas; "FYROM's Dispute with Greece Revisited". in: Kourvetaris et al. (eds.), The New Balkans, East European Monographs: Columbia University Press, 2002, p. 85. 
  38. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, adopted 17 November 1991, amended on 6 January 1992
  39. ^ Constantine Mitsotakis, quoted in Tom Gallagher, The Balkans In The New Millennium: in the shadow of war and peace, p. 6. Routledge, 2005. ISBN 0415349400

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