Monday, April 18, 2011



The Skopje Zoo welcomed three newly born Siberian tigers this morning at 9am. Sponsor of the newly reconstructed tiger's living quarters is former Skopje mayor Trifun Kostovski. He will have the honors of naming one of the tigers.

The Siberian tigers are considered an endangered species, with only 350-400 living in the wild.

MD: This is pretty special. It does not happen too often for new Siberian tigers to be born in captivity, especially not in Southeastern Europe.


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Saturday, April 09, 2011



Turkish-based international company “TAV” has completed the reconstruction of the Ohrid-based airport “St. Paul the Apostle”.

The opening ceremony is set to be held on Sunday. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and Head of “TAV” Sani Sener will address the attendees.

„TAV Airports Holding“ took over Macedonian airports in March 2010.
The reconstruction of Skopje-base airport will be completed in October.

They plan to invest around 200 million euros.


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Vine growers received today their subsidies for the purchased grapes, said Vice Premier and Finance Minister Zoran Stavreski during Friday's visit to Negotino.

"The total amount is approximately EUR 2 million, allocated to vine growers in Negotino, Kavadarci, Strumica, Sveti Nikole etc", said Stavreski.

Pertaining to latest statistical data on the trade deficit, he assessed as favorable that the deficit is aimed at financing investments and import of machinery and equipment, which indicates the economy's awakening.

"It would not be good if the deficit is reflected on personal consumption, i.e. import of commodities for personal consumption. In this case, there is import of machinery, equipment and other goods which demonstrates that Macedonian companies expect the economy to rise and import commodities that stimulate export", added Stavreski.


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Monday, April 04, 2011



Private money transfers from Macedonians working abroad reached 1.366 billion euros in 2010, latest data from the Central Bank show.

This is some 230 million euros more than in 2009 and 380 million euros more than in 2008.

By comparison, Macedonia attracted only 222 million euros in Foreign Direct Investment, FDI, in 2010.

Most money comes from Macedonian communities in Australia, Canada, Switzerland and Italy, the data show. Macedonians employed in Afghanistan and Dubai are also contributing significantly to the total sum.

Local economic experts say the value of private money transfers is probably larger than data suggest, as some is sent in cash form and not registered by the authorities.

Experts note that private transfers of this kind make up some 20 per cent of the country’s GDP, feeding the country with fresh money and defending the stability of the national currency, the denar.

Some experts say more effort needs to be invested in mobilizing this significant financial resource, by encouraging the diaspora to invest its money in the local economy.

"The authorities should offer these people the same benefits they offer foreign investors,” Abdulmenaf Bexheti, an economics professor at the University of South-Eastern Europe, in Tetovo, says.

Macedonia's foreign trade deficit neared 1.51 billion euros in 2010. Exports covered only 60 per cent of the value of imported goods that year.

The country ended last year with minimal economic growth of just over 1 per cent. The government hopes it will reach 5 per cent in 2012 and 2013, matching the rate before before the global crisis struck in 2008.

The world downturn has crippled the country’s flagship metal and construction industries, which are responsible for much of the country’s exports.

No exact data exist on how many families in Macedonia subsist on the support of relatives working abroad but some experts suggest the likely figure is well over 100,000 families.

MD: And yet so many Macedonians still see the diaspora in a negative way as 'those who left'.


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Gruevski must now submit his proposal to parliament, which will dissolve itself and officially set the date for polls, both mere formalities because Gruevski's ruling VMRO DPMNE holds an overwhelming majority in the assembly.

“The elections will be fair, free and democratic. Those who try to obstruct them will be fiercely punished by the institutions,” Gruevski said, adding that he is confident in election victory.

The prime minister made the announcement at a press conference in Skopje on Wednesday, just hours after the main opposition party dropped its demands for the poll.

Earlier on Wednesday, Social Democrat leader Branko Crvenkovski told Gruevski in his own press conference: “You just state the day of elections and we are there”.

The party said it had withdrawn its demands that certain conditions be met before elections are held, though it did not end its boycott of parliament.

The opposition and the ruling party had reached agreement on the need for fresh elections, but could not agree on a date for the polls.

In addition, the Social Democrats had asked for a revision of the voters list and the electoral units in order to ensure a fair election process and eliminate possibility for fraud, as well as the adoption of a law that would prevent the state from favouring certain media outlets by directing all its advertisement money to them.

In meetings last week, opposition and government leaders reached agreement in principle on those three demands.

Prime Minister Gruevski could not agree to a third demand- the unfreezing of the bank account of A1 TV, a critically inclined media that the opposition claims Gruevski wants to shut down- saying he cannot influence the court.

“On one hand, you will have your laws, your electoral roll, your media and your money for buying votes but we will win because we have the people on our side,” Crvenkovski said on Wednesday.

The opposition began a parliament boycott in late January. It has since increased calls for early elections, blaming Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE for curbing democracy and media freedom and stalling the country’s economic and political progress.

Gruevski has been in power since 2006. He further strenghtened his position after winning a landslide victory at the 2008 snap polls.


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The Democratic Renewal of Macedonia, DOM, a minor party in the ruling coalition, says it is filing a resolution to parliament this week aimed at halting plans to build a new nuclear plant.

Macedonia’s current energy strategy envisages investing in nuclear power to overcome electricity shortages.

“We will ask for a revision of the national energy strategy and want to see a permanent moratorium on all nuclear energy plans,” the party spokesperson, Toni Ristov, told Balkan Insight.

Roughly one-third of Macedonia’s electricity comes from imports. Experts say the country needs new capacities if it does not want to become entirely dependent on outside power.

Ristov also announced the formation of a Balkan-wide "green" coalition with the same goal, amid reports of new initiatives to build nuclear plants in neighbouring Bulgaria, Albania, Turkey and elsewhere.

Macedonia’s main ruling party, VMRO DPMNE, and the main opposition Social Democrats, say they need more time to decide whether to support the resolution.

“The government has not reached any decision on possible investment in nuclear energy, although this remains an option in the national strategy,” government spokesperson Martin Martinovski told Balkan Insight.

Macedonian authorities last year mulled plans to invest in Bulgaria's nuclear power plant at Belene in order to solve its power shortage. Some local experts, on the other hand, urge Macedonia to build its own nuclear power plant in the southern Mariovo region.

Meanwhile, energy experts fear a severe shock for the country’s electricity-dependent industry and households after electricity prices on world markets skyrocketed following Japan’s nuclear threat.

Before the Japanese disaster, a MWh of electricity on the world market sold for an average of 50 euros. The average price is now 63 euros.

The catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that have crippled Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have prompted many countries to rethink their nuclear energy plans.

The EU has ordered tests to check the safety of all reactors. Germany said last week that it will temporarily shut all seven of its nuclear reactors built before 1980. India also announced increased safety measures.

Nuclear power provides about a third of the electricity used by the EU's 27 nations. Only two nuclear power plants operate in the Balkans, at Cernavoda in Romania and at Krsko in Slovenia.


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