Republic of Macedonia–Russia relations
Macedonia–Russia relations (Macedonian: Македонско-руски односи, Russian: Российско-македонские отношения) are foreign relations between the Republic of Macedonia and the Russian Federation. Bilateral political relations between Macedonia and Russia are friendly and characterized by high-level cooperation between the two countries. Russia has an embassy in Skopje, while the Republic of Macedonia has an embassy in Moscow and a consulate in St. Petersburg. The current ambassador of Russia to Macedonia is Oleg Nikolayevich Shcherbak.
History of relations
Russia recognized Macedonia as an independent state on 4 August 1992, about one year after Macedonia's declaration of independence from Yugoslavia. The Russian Federation by that move became the first major power in the world to recognize Macedonia under its constitutional name Republic of Macedonia, by which it is recognized today by 131 states. The establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two states took place on 31 January 1994.
Over 40 agreements were signed by the Republic of Macedonia and the Russian Federation in the first 15 years of their bilateral relations, among them the important Declaration of Friendship and Cooperation in 1998.
Macedonia gives special importance to investments from Russia. One very positive example is the one of Russia's largest oil company - Lukoil. In March 2015, Russian engineering construction company Stroitransgaz announced plans to a build a gas pipeline across Macedonia, which could eventually be used as part of a route to supply Europe with Russian gas via Turkey.
Stroitransgaz is owned by Gennady Timchenko, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, who was among the first businessmen to be placed under sanctions by the United States in the Crimea crisis. A spokesman for Stroitransgaz said the sanctions would not hamper the project in Macedonia, which is not a member of the European Union.
The 96.6 km (60 miles) Negotino-Klecovce gas pipeline will cross Macedonia from near the Greek border in the south up to the vicinity of the Serbian border in the north. Stroitransgaz will build 61 km of the link by June 2016.
Moscow plans to build an undersea pipeline to Turkey, a replacement for the cancelled South Stream project via Bulgaria. The details of an onward route from Turkey through Greece have not been finalised.
Stroitransgaz said it will carry out its work as part of the repayment of the outstanding debt between the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia, of which Macedonia was a member. The cost of the entire project stands at $75.7 million.
The project has added to tensions between the West and Russia. Following violent interethnic clashes in the northern Macedonian city of Kumanovo on the 9th of May 2015, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the West of trying to incite an overthrow of the Macedonian government in order to undermine the project.
After a meeting between Macedonian and Russian officials in March 2016, it was announced that the government of Macedonia is interested in increasing Russian tourism in the country. The Macedonian government is working to create good conditions for Russian tourists and in establishing regular airfare between the two countries.
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- Македония хочет расширить сотрудничество с Россией в сфере туризма | Macedonia wants to increase cooperation with Russia in the tourism sphere (Russian). RIA Novosti. Published 25 March 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.