Foreign relations of North Macedonia

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The foreign relations of North Macedonia since its independence in 1991 have been characterized by the country's efforts to gain membership in international organizations such as NATO and the European Union and to gain international recognition under its constitutional name, overshadowed by a long-standing, dead-locked dispute with neighboring Greece. Greek objections to the country's name have led to it being admitted to the United Nations and several other international fora only under the provisional designation Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

International recognition[edit]

Foreign relations of North Macedonia
  recognition and diplomatic relations
  recognition
European countries with no diplomatic relations with North Macedonia.

North 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 was 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.[1] It was not until after the country's flag was changed that it was raised at the UN Headquarters.[1] Other international bodies, such as the European Union,[2] European Broadcasting Union,[3] and the International Olympic Committee[4] had adopted the same naming convention. NATO also used that name in official documents but added an explanation on which member countries recognise the constitutional name.[5]

All UN member states currently recognise North Macedonia as a sovereign state. A number of countries recognised the country by its former constitutional name – the Republic of Macedonia – rather than the UN reference, notably four of the five permanent UN Security Council members (the United Kingdom, the United States,[6] Russia, and the People's Republic of China) and over 130 other UN members.[7]

List of countries and entities recognising the country and establishing diplomatic relations[edit]

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

  • Cyprus, Georgia, San Marino, Monaco
  • Lebanon, Palestine
  • Bhutan, South Korea.
  • Liberia, Mali, South Sudan, Tunisia.
  • The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago.
  • Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga
  • the rest of states with limited recognition (except Kosovo)

Bilateral relations[edit]

Africa[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Egypt

North Macedonia has an embassy in Cairo.[9]

 South Africa October 1995
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations in October 1995.[10]
  • South Africa is represented in North Macedonia by its embassy in Athens, Greece.[10]

Americas[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Argentina
  • Argentina is represented in North Macedonia by its embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.[11]
  • North Macedonia is represented in Argentina by its embassy in Madrid, Spain.[12]
 Belize 25 January 1996

Both countries established diplomatic relations on January 25, 1996.[13]

 Brazil 1998
 Canada 4 July 1996
  • Canada is accredited to North Macedonia from its embassy in Belgrade, Serbia and maintains an honorary consulate in Skopje.[16]
  • North Macedonia has an embassy in Ottawa.[17]
 Guyana 22 September 2003

Both countries established diplomatic relations on September 22, 2003.[18]

 Mexico 4 October 2001
  • North Macedonia is accredited to Mexico from its embassy in Washington, D.C., United States.[19]
  • Mexico is accredited to North Macedonia from its embassy in Belgrade, Serbia.[20]
 Panama 18 April 2002

Both countries established diplomatic relations on April 18, 2002.[21]

 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Both countries established diplomatic relations on May 15, 2003.[22]

 United States See North Macedonia–United States relations
Then US President George W. Bush with the political leaders of North Macedonia in 2008

The United States and North Macedonia enjoy excellent bilateral relations.[23] The United States formally recognized North 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 North Macedonia has ushered in a whole host of other contacts between the two states. In 2004, the United States recognized the country under its constitutional name of that time – Republic of Macedonia.

Asia[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 27 May 1993

Both countries established relations on May 27, 1993.[24]

 Azerbaijan 28 June 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 28, 1995.[25]

 China 12 October 1993

On October 12, 1993, the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) established diplomatic relations with North 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 North Macedonia affirmed it would not establish any form of official relations with Taiwan.[26]

 India 1996 See India–North Macedonia relations

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1996.[27]

 Indonesia

Indonesia is represented in North Macedonia by its embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.[28]

 Israel 7 December 1995 See Israel–North Macedonia relations

Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 7, 1995.

 Japan March 1994

Both countries established diplomatic relations in March 1994. North Macedonia opened its first resident embassy in Tokyo in 2013 and the first resident ambassador of North Macedonia to Japan is H.E. Dr. Andrijana Cvetkovik [29]

 Kazakhstan

The two countries hold regular political consultations on subjects of political, economic, cultural, humanitarian issues.[30]

 North Korea 11 October 1993

North Macedonia and DPRK diplomatic relations from October 11, 1993. They have a friendly relations. DPRK is represented in North Macedonia through its embassy in Sofia. North Macedonia is one of just three of the 191 UN member states (along with Cuba and Syria) with which South Korea (Korea, Rep) does not have diplomatic relations.[31] However, South Korean citizens do not need to obtain a visa if they stay in North Macedonia for less than 90 days.[32]

 South Korea

The Republic of Korea has not established diplomatic relations yet with Republic of North Macedonia however both nations are having unofficially relationships.[33]

 Maldives

Both countries established diplomatic relations on November 13, 2000.[34]

 Mongolia 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 27, 1995.[35]

   Nepal 1998

Both countries established diplomatic relations on January 6, 1998.[36]

 Qatar

North Macedonia has an embassy in Doha.[37]

 Singapore 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on May 8, 1995.[38]

 Sri Lanka 1994

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1994.[39]

 Taiwan 27 January 1999

Notwithstanding the above, North Macedonia and the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC) established diplomatic relations on January 27, 1999.[40] 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 North Macedonia. On April 28, 1999, North Macedonia opened an embassy in Taipei, ROC.[41] The Republic of North Macedonia and the PRC normalized their relations on June 18, 2001.[42] On the same day, the ROC severed diplomatic relations with North Macedonia.[41] In the joint communiqué between North Macedonia and People's Republic of China, North 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".[42]

 Turkey See North Macedonia–Turkey relations

Due to historical and cultural mutualities and human bonds North Macedonia and Turkey have very close and friendly relations.[43] Shortly after North Macedonia declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, Turkey was among the first countries to recognise North Macedonia's sovereignty.[44] Bilateral relations were established on August 26, 1992.[45] North 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.

 Turkmenistan 1996

Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 21, 1996[46].

 United Arab Emirates

North Macedonia has an embassy in Abu Dhabi.[37]

 Uzbekistan 31 December 1994

Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 31, 1994.[47]

 Vietnam 10 June 1994
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 10, 1994.[48]
  • North Macedonia is represented in Vietnam through its embassy in Beijing, China.[49]
  • Vietnam is represented in North Macedonia through its embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.[49]

Europe[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Albania

Recently (Aug. 2008) they signed a treaty enabling visa-free movement between the countries. Both countries support each other's ethnic minorities in cultural, political and educational aspects. During the ethnic conflict in 2001, the Albanian government did not interfere and supported peaceful resolution. Albania had recognized Skopje under the UN provisional reference of the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia",[50][51] abbreviated as FYROM.[52][53]

 Andorra 2009

Both countries established diplomatic relations on July 31, 2009.[54]

 Bulgaria See Bulgaria–North Macedonia relations

Bulgaria–North Macedonia relations refer to the bilateral relations between Bulgaria and North Macedonia. Rules for governing good neighbourly relations were agreed between Bulgaria and North Macedonia in the Joint Declaration of February 22, 1999 and reaffirmed by a joint memorandum signed on January 22, 2008 in Sofia.[55] The governments of Bulgaria and North Macedonia signed a friendship treaty to bolster the relations between the two Balkan states in August 2017.[56] The treaty was ratified by the parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia on the 15th of and of Bulgaria on 18 January 2018.[57]

 Denmark See Denmark–North Macedonia relations
 Estonia 2 March 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on March 2, 1995.[58]

 Greece See Greece–North Macedonia relations

North Macedonia and Greece have excellent economic and business relations, with Greece being the largest investor in the country. Until the Prespa Agreement (2019), the indeterminate status of North Macedonia's former name arose from a long-running dispute with Greece. The main points of the dispute were:[59]

  • The name: see Macedonia naming dispute, and the section Naming issue (resolved, below in this article).
  • The flag: the use of Vergina Sun, a Greek state symbol, on the initial national flag used between 1992 and 1995 (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. The naming issue was resolved with the Prespa Agreement, signed in 2018, and entered into force in February 2019.

 Iceland
 Kosovo See Kosovo–North Macedonia relations

North Macedonia and Kosovo have very friendly and cordial neighbourly relations[citation needed] which mainly are due to the ethnic Albanian populations that live inside North Macedonia. In October 2008, North Macedonia recognized Kosovo as an independent state with plan to establish diplomatic relations. Kosovo recognized the neighbouring country under its former constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia.[63] 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.[64] Kosovo and North Macedonia have signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2005 to facilitate trade opportunities, investment conditions and improve good-neighbourly relations. North Macedonia's investments are the largest in Kosovo since its independence on February 17, 2008 year.[65]

 Lithuania 18 July 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on July 18, 1995.[66]

 Malta 25 January 2017

Both countries established diplomatic relations on January 25, 2017.[67]

 Montenegro 14 June 2006 See North Macedonia–Montenegro relations

Both countries established diplomatic relations on June 14, 2006.[68]

 Norway 1993

Both countries established diplomatic relations in 1993.[69]

 Romania 11 January 1995

Both countries established diplomatic relations on January 11, 1995.[70]

 Serbia See North Macedonia–Serbia relations

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

 Slovenia 12 February 1992 See North Macedonia–Slovenia relations

North 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, North Macedonia in September) and recognised each other's independence on February 12, 1992.[71] Diplomatic relations between both countries were established on March 17, 1992.[72] Slovenia supports North Macedonia's sovereignty, territorial integrity, its Euro-integration and visa liberalisation.[71][73] A significant number of Slovenian investments ended up in North Macedonia. In 2007, about 70 million euros were invested.[74] In January 2009, the Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski announced, that he expects more Slovenian investments in infrastructure and energy projects.[74] Over 70 Slovenian companies are present on the Macedonian market.[71]

  Switzerland 31 January 1994

Both countries established diplomatic relations on January 31, 1994[75].

Oceania[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Australia 15 February 1994
  • Both countries established diplomatic relations on 15 February 1994.[76]
  • Australia is accredited to North Macedonia from its embassy in Belgrade, Serbia and maintains an honorary consulate in Skopje.[77]
  • North Macedonia has an embassy in Canberra.[78]
 Federated States of Micronesia 2004

Both countries established diplomatic relations on November 30, 2004.[79]

 New Zealand
  • North Macedonia is accredited to New Zealand from its embassy in Canberra, Australia.[80]
  • New Zealand is accredited to North Macedonia from its embassy in Rome, Italy.[81]
 Samoa

Both countries established diplomatic relations on August 18, 2005.[82]

Issues[edit]

Flag issue[edit]

The former flag of the former Republic of Macedonia (used from 1992 to 1995), bearing the Vergina Sun

North Macedonia's first post-independence flag caused a major controversy when it was unveiled. The use of the Vergina Sun on the flag was seen by Greece as territorial claim to the northern Greek region of Macedonia, where the golden larnax containing the symbol was unearthed in 1977 during excavations in Vergina by Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos. 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.[83]

The Vergina Sun, claimed by Greece as an exclusive state 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.[84]

Constitutional issue[edit]

North 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.[85]

The Greek government interpreted this as a licence for North 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.[86]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]