Macedonia - Foreign Policy
NATO and EU membership remain the bases of strategic foreign political priorities of the country. Republic of Macedonia is dedicated to the development and improvement of good neighborly relations with all countries in the region, as well as to the active participation in regional cooperation. As a responsible and dedicated member of the international community, the country contributes to the international activities directed towards fulfillment of the most relevant issues from the international agenda.
The Republic of Macedonia, through its foreign policy at both bilateral and multilateral level, promotes its national values and interests. The European and the Trans-Atlantic integration processes represent vital interest to the long-term stability, security, and well-being of the Republic of Macedonia.
The Republic of Macedonia is committed to fulfilling five foreign-policy priorities: NATO membership, getting date and commencing the negotiations for full-fledged membership of the European Union, abolishment of visas for Macedonian nationals, overcoming of the issue of the name difference imposed by a southern neighboring country, and, strengthening the economic and public diplomacy.
In February 1994, Greece imposed a trade embargo on Macedonia due to disputes over the use of the name "Macedonia" and other issues. Greece and Macedonia signed an interim accord in October 1995 ending the embargo and opening the way to diplomatic recognition and increased trade. After signing the agreement with Greece, Macedonia joined the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and NATO's Partnership for Peace (PfP). Athens and Skopje began talks on the name issue in New York under UN auspices in December 1995, opening liaison offices in respective capitals January 1996. These talks continue.
The stability of the young state was gravely tested during the 1999 Kosovo crisis, when Macedonia temporarily hosted about 360,000 refugees from the violence and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. The refugee influx put significant stress on Macedonia's weak social infrastructure. With the help of NATO and the international community, Macedonia ultimately was able to accommodate the influx. Following the resolution of the conflict, the overwhelming majority of refugees returned to Kosovo. A small number of Roma refugees from Kosovo remains in Macedonia, most of them housed in the predominantly Roma municipality of Suto Orizari in the Skopje suburbs, and supported by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Macedonia enjoys good relations with its neighbors. It has strong trade and tourism ties with Greece, and has developed similarly robust political and trade ties with Albania and Bulgaria. Relations between Belgrade and Skopje are good overall, although a dispute between the Macedonian Orthodox Church and the Serb Orthodox Church has strained ties over the past several years. Relations with Kosovo are good, with Macedonia having signed an Interim Free Trade Agreement with UNMIK in 2005 and with regular bilateral political contacts occurring between Pristina and Skopje since 2005. Macedonia recognized Kosovo's independence in October 2008. Macedonia and Kosovo completed demarcation of their shared border and established formal diplomatic relations in October 2009.
Macedonia has made important strides toward Euro-Atlantic integration. Macedonia is an active participant in NATO's Partnership for Peace and Membership Action Plan, the OSCE, and United Nations, and was accepted as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October 2002.
The Republic of Macedonia has fulfilled all criteria relating to the membership of the Alliance and has implemented the required reforms. In the Declaration of the NATO Bucharest Summit, there was clear recognition of our dedication to the values and operative activities of NATO and progress in the reform process. Due to the opposition by the Republic of Greece, the Alliance would send the invitation for NATO membership after finding a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of the difference concerning the name of the Republic of Macedonia; to this end, talks are being conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. The NATO membership of the Republic of Macedonia would mean long-term stability and security not only for the Balkans, but also for the Euro-Atlantic region on the whole and so the commencement of the finalization of the concept for a Europe, whole, free, and in peace.
The Republic of Macedonia is committed to constant strengthening of its strategies partnership with the United States of America and developing comprehensive partnership relations with the EU and NATO Member States; in this regard the Republic of Macedonia pays special attention also to the relations and cooperation with other countries, above all with the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China.
In the relations and cooperation with countries in the immediate neighborhood, promotion is made of good-neighborliness and friendship, and so of preparedness for overall cooperation in several fields of common interest. Good-neighborly relations, as one of the priorities in the foreign policy, represent original determination, instrumental in enhancing mutual trust and, at the same time, a complementary factor on the accession road of the Republic of Macedonia towards the European Union and NATO.
Taking in consideration the significance of the national identity and the values of the Macedonian people for sovereignty, independence, and security of the state, the Republic of Macedonia attaches special importance to the promotion of the national, culture, and spiritual identity beyond the borders of the Republic of Macedonia.
Care for the position of the Macedonian communities living outside the state borders, and for the improvement of the legal status and treatment of the Macedonian national minority in other countries, in conformity with international treaties and concluded bilateral agreements, represents one of the major foreign policy goals.
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