Northern Macedonia (until 2019 Macedonia). Violence that flared up between the country’s two dominant groups at the beginning of the year was described as the worst since the country’s fighting in 2001. In January, a church caught fire after Christian Macedonians violated Muslim Albanians by wearing masks at a festival. Since two Albanians were shot dead in March, riots erupted with dozens of injured and at least 20 arrested. When five Christian fishermen were found shot dead on a lake shore near Skopje in April, many perceived it as a revenge attack by Albanians.
In May, police arrested 20 people suspected of conspiring with a radical Islamist group accused of murdering the fishermen. The arrests sparked protests among Albanians who believed that the entire Albanian-Muslim population was to blame for the murders. Macedonia’s Islamic community pledged in June to try to stop the influence of radical Islamists from other countries in order to curb mistrust and contradictions.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for Macedonia. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
The violence also caused tensions with Albania and the Albanian-dominated Kosovo. Nationalists in neighboring countries created concern by advocating for Greater Albania, which would also include the Albanian-dominated northwestern Macedonia.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon visited Skopje in July together with UN mediators in the drawn-out name conflict with Greece. However, no progress was reported. Greece continued to insist that the neighboring country should call itself “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, or FYROM with English abbreviation, in order not to claim the region of Greece called Macedonia. The government in Skopje opposed it. The dispute continued to block Macedonia’s possibility of joining NATO and the EU.
Contemporary History of Northern Macedonia
Northern Macedonia’s contemporary history is the country’s history after 1991. September 8, 1991, Northern Macedonia became an independent state after being a part of Yugoslavia since 1918. As a state in Yugoslavia, the country was called the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, and this name, minus the term ” socialist ”, was retained by independence. Due to inconsistencies in the name of Greece, due to their region of Macedonia, the Republic was for a period internationally referred to as FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; formerly Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), but most often as only Macedonia. On February 12, 2019, Macedonia changed its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia.
When Yugoslavia disintegrated around 1990, Macedonia at long last sought to maintain a unified Yugoslavia. However, when Slovenia and Croatia disbanded in June 1991, it was not a viable option for Macedonia to remain in a Serbian-dominated Yugoslavia with President Slobodan Milošević as head.
Macedonia also declared itself an independent republic after a referendum was held on September 8 and a new constitution was adopted on September 17, 1991. The Macedonian Declaration of Independence did not trigger any attack by the Yugoslav army, which, after negotiations, withdrew in April 1992.
At the November 1990 elections, many new parties emerged. Largest was the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, which built on the traditions of the Macedonian independence struggle, but which was held outside the government. The second largest, and leader of the government coalition, became the Reform Communist Party for Democratic Reform. Former Communist leader Kiro Gligorov was elected president. Under Gligorov’s leadership, Macedonia managed to maneuver through the dangerous waters created by the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the wars in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Parliamentary life, on the other hand, was rather unclear, with many parties and strong contradictions.
The parliamentary elections in the fall of 1994, as the opposition parties boycotted, were won by an alliance of socialists, social democrats and liberals. The prime minister of a center-left government was Branko Crvenkovsky, a supporter of Kiro Gligorov. In the fall of 1995, Gligorov was attacked, but survived.
The Albanian minority
The biggest domestic political problem was the relationship with the Albanian minority. A 1994 referendum showed that Albanians made up about 23 percent, but Albanians claimed their share was greater. A sharp conflict arose when the Albanians set up an Albanian university in the city of Tetovo in 1995, without the permission of the authorities. Despite being imprisoned and obstacles put in the head, the university continued its activities.
Thousands of Kosovo Albanian refugees came to Macedonia as a result of the 1999 Kosovo war. Authorities feared Albanian majority. Boris Trajkovski was elected new president in 1999; he was killed in a plane crash in 2004. The subsequent presidential election was won by Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovsky of the Social Democratic Alliance SDSM.
At the beginning of 2001, riots broke out in which ethnic Albanians demanded more rights for the Albanian minority in the country. The conflict developed. Insurgents occupied land and many fled. In 2001, the EU and NATO initiated a peace treaty, the Ohrid Agreement, which gave ethnic Albanians better rights to lay down their weapons. The National Assembly included these rights in the country’s constitution at the end of 2001. In principle, this gave the minorities increased rights, but on the Albanian side there was still dissatisfaction with how they were implemented.
In 2004, the National Assembly decided that ethnic Albanians should gain greater local self-reliance in the areas of the country where they dominate. The country received international recognition for its handling of the ethnic conflict, and in 2005 Macedonia received the European Commission’s approval as a candidate country for EU membership.
Macedonia was in a vulnerable position after the country became independent. All four neighboring states were hostile. Bulgaria recognized Macedonia early, but without acknowledging the existence of a Macedonian nation. In 1994, UN peacekeeping troops were deployed along the border with Serbia to prevent Serbian provocations.
Most critical, however, was the relationship with Greece, which refused to recognize the new state named Macedonia. In 1992–1993, large protest demonstrations were held in Greece. The Greeks accused Macedonia of expansionism and reacted to the Macedonians choosing the Vergina sun as the national flag, a symbol of Philip 2 of Macedonia’s tomb, found in Northern Greece.
When Macedonia applied for membership in the UN in 1993, Greece sharpened its opposition and long blocked the EU’s recognition of Macedonia. However, several countries recognized Macedonia under the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). In February 1994 Greece introduced an economic embargo on Macedonia. In September 1995, a compromise was found, with the Macedonia sun symbol slightly changed, the Greek embargo lifted, and the Greeks accepted the name FYROM as a temporary solution to the name dispute. Only in June 2018 did the Macedonian and Greek Prime Minister agree that the name could be changed to the Republic of Northern Macedonia.
On February 12, 2019, FYROM changed its name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia.
In 2005, the European Commission proposed that the country should become a candidate for EU membership. Negotiations on EU membership are scheduled to begin in 2019.
According to Countryaah, the population of Macedonia in 2012 was 2,079,217, ranking number 146 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.080% yearly, and the population density was 82.4476 people per km2.