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U.S.-Macedonian Relations

The United States and Macedonia have enjoyed good bilateral relations since Macedonia gained its independence in 1991. 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.

The United States, together with its European allies, strongly condemned the initiators of the 2001 insurgency in Macedonia and closely supported the government and major parties' successful efforts to forge a peaceful, political solution to the crisis through the Ohrid Framework Agreement. In partnership with the EU and other international organizations active in Macedonia, the United States is facilitating the Macedonian Government's implementation of the Framework Agreement and fostering long-term peace and stability in the country. Macedonia continues to make an important contribution to regional stability by facilitating the logistical supply of NATO (including U.S.) peacekeepers in Kosovo.

The United States strongly supports Macedonia's aspirations for full integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. Today, Macedonia and the United States enjoy a cooperative relationship across a broad range of political, economic, cultural, military, and social issues. The United States has supported Macedonia's progress in building a democratic, secure, and market-oriented multiethnic society with large amounts of foreign assistance for democracy and economic reforms, defense reforms, and projects to strengthen rule of law and improve education. Bilateral assistance budgeted to Macedonia under the Support for East European Democracy (SEED) Act totaled over $500 million from 1990 to 2010. Macedonia received approximately $19 million in SEED Act assistance in 2009 and is going to receive approximately $23 million in 2010.

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) programs in Macedonia promote accelerated growth, support stronger democratic institutions, and help educate Macedonians for a modern economy. In the democracy sector, a focus of U.S. assistance has been to assist Macedonia in implementing the August 2001 Framework Agreement. Successful completion of the decentralization process is a remaining priority for framework implementation. USAID is also focused on promoting an independent and efficient judiciary, a more vibrant civil society, and strengthening parliament.

A further priority of U.S. assistance is to facilitate Macedonia's transition to a market economy and increase employment and growth levels. USAID economic assistance is focused on two levels. At the macro-level, programs target improvements in the business-enabling environment by helping to bring legislative and regulatory frameworks in line with EU standards, build the capacity of the administration to implement them and improve the transparency and efficiency of government services through technology. At the micro-level, assistance is given to firms and agribusinesses to increase their competitiveness and productivity, coupled with initiatives to attract foreign investment and stimulate local investment and support creation of new jobs and new enterprises. Training programs that provide career-enhancing education to prepare youth and adults for growth sectors are also supported. In the energy area, USAID will support the Government of Macedonia to align the domestic energy system to EU norms, build institutional capacity to develop and implement energy policies and help introduce energy efficiency interventions in households and business sector.

USAID is focused on helping the Macedonian Government and civil society combat corruption, enhancing democratic political competition, supporting government decentralization and promoting the rule of law. USAID also supported the State Commission for Prevention of corruption in developing a comprehensive State Program for Prevention of Conflict of Interest and assisted in training over 150 judges and prosecutors in dealing with conflict of interest cases. USAID provides technical and material support to assist the Macedonian judiciary develop into a more independent, efficient, transparent and accountable branch of government, capable of standing on an equal basis with other government branches. A U.S. Department of Justice Resident Legal Advisor and a Senior Law Enforcement Advisor focus on strengthening the independence of the judiciary, efficacy of public prosecution, reform of criminal codes, increasing police capacity, and abating trafficking in persons and organized crime.

Complementing its assistance in Macedonia's political and economic transition, USAID programs improve education and human capacity in Macedonia through projects on the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. Targets include improving teaching techniques, modernizing vocational education, introducing information and communication technology (ICT) as a learning tool in the classroom, applying accurate school-based assessment techniques, and focusing on workforce development activities in schools. Other programs address crosscutting issues, including interethnic cooperation, assistance to the Roma minority, performance improvement of key institutions, and corruption.

On May 7, 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki signed a joint Declaration of Strategic Partnership and Cooperation affirming the determination of the governments to further expand and deepen the partnership between our two countries based upon common goals, interests, and values.

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Page last modified: 20-11-2012 16:22:38 ZULU