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Key priorities

Key priorities in the foreign relations are:

  • Promotion of the Republic of Macedonia as a NATOmarker 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.

  • 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 Macedoniamarker became a member state of the United Nations on April 8, 1993, eighteen months after its independence from the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslaviamarker. 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. Other international bodies, such as the European Union , European Broadcasting Unionmarker , and the International Olympic Committeemarker have adopted the same convention. NATOmarker also uses the reference in official documents but adds an explanation on which member countries recognise the constitutional name.

All UN member states currently recognise Macedonia as an 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 Macedoniamarker – rather than the UN reference, notably four of the five permanent UN Security Council members (the UKmarker, the United Statesmarker, Russiamarker, and the People's Republic of Chinamarker) and over 120 other UN members.

Foreign relation of Macedonia

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 Albaniamarker 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 Albanianmarker government did not interfere and supported peaceful resolution.


Macedonia and Bulgariamarker have cooperative neighbourly relations. Bulgaria was the first country to recognise the independence of the Republic of Macedonia. 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 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.

Reacting to the publication of a controversial encyclopedia by the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU) in 2009, Bulgariamarker 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’.”

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.”


Macedonia and Serbiamarker 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 Kosovomarker as an independent state are disturbing the relations of these two countries.


Macedonia and Kosovomarker have very friendly and cordial neighbourly relations. 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. 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. Kosovo and Macedonia have signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2005 to facilitate trade opportunities, investment conditions and improve good-neighbourly relations.


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 Greecemarker. The main points of the dispute are:

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


Due to historical and cultural mutualities and human bonds Macedonia and Turkey have very close and friendly relations. Shortly after Macedonia declared its independence from the former Yugoslaviamarker in 1991 Turkey was among the first countries to recognise Macedonia's sovereignty. Bilateral relations where established on 26 August 1992. Macedonia has an embassy in Ankaramarker and a consulate–general in Istanbulmarker, while Turkey has an embassy in Skopjemarker and a consulate-general in Bitolamarker.

United States

The United Statesmarker and the Republic of Macedoniamarker enjoy excellent bilateral relations. 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 Skopjemarker 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.

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.

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.

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.

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


  1. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia: GOALS AND PRIORITIES
  2. MIA] Kosovo is the 127th country that the Republic of Macedonia has established diplomatic ties with under its constitutional name.
  3. 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
  4. Macedonia’s first encyclopedia provokes protests. Euranet, 23 September 2009.
  5. Kosovo Slams Macedonia Over Encyclopaedia., 22 September 2009.
  6. Macedonian Encyclopaedia To Be Changed. Eurasia Press and News, 24 September 2009.
  7. FYRMacedonia: "Macedonian Encyclopedia" withdrawn. EMportal, 26 September 2009.
  8. Macedonia embroiled in encyclopaedia row. Euractiv, 13 October 2009.
  9. Bulgaria joins growing criticism of Macedonian Encyclopedia. Independent News Agency Makfax, 24 September 2009.
  10. Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Official website, 04.08.2009.
  11. Macedonian Information Agency
  12. Southeast European Times, Oct. 26 2008: Macedonia, Kosovo agree on border demarcation
  13. UNMIK, Focus Kosovo: Kosovo’s Free Trade Agreements
  14. Floudas, Demetrius Andreas;
  15. Republic of Slovenia - Government Communication Office
  16. Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Established full diplomatic relations with the Republic of Macedonia
  17. Government of the Republic of Macedonia
  18. Vecer Online
  19. Republic of Turkey - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  20. Government of the Republic of Macedonia
  21. Republic of Macedonia - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  22. Makfax Agency United States of America congratulate President Ivanov on his inauguration and are looking forward to continuing of the excellent relations with Macedonia
  23. Floudas, Demetrius Andreas;
  24. Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, adopted 17 November 1991, amended on 6 January 1992
  25. 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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