the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- FYR Macedonia: Cold Wave - Jan 2017
- FYR Macedonia: Flash Floods - Aug 2016
- FYR Macedonia: Flash Floods and Mudslides - Aug 2015
- South-Eastern Europe: Floods - Feb 2015
- FYR Macedonia: Cold Wave - Dec 2014
- FYR Macedonia: Floods - Feb 2013
- Europe/Northern Africa: Cold Wave - Jan 2012
- Influenza A (H1N1) Pandemic - Apr 2009
- The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: Forest Fires - Jul 2007
- Central/Eastern Europe: Heat Wave - Jul 2007
The lowest temperatures in decades and a blanket of heavy snow in parts of the Balkans, Greece, and Eastern Europe are causing dozens of deaths, power outages, and travel delays.
Authorities have blamed at least 73 deaths on the extreme weather, the coldest since 1963, including at least 15 people who froze to death in the Balkans this week -- four elderly men in Bosnia-Herzegovina, six people in Serbia, two homeless men in Kosovo, and an elderly woman and two homeless men in Macedonia.
By Deana Kjuka
In the wake of deadly flash floods in and around the Macedonian capital, criticism over how the disaster was handled and why more was not done to prevent it is flooding in.
Activists, citizens, and online media are expressing outrage at what they view as the government's slow response, failure to issue warnings as torrential rains battered Skopje and its environs on the night of August 5-6, and neglect of a storm-drain system that could have prevented the flooding that killed at least 21 people.
The Macedonian government decided on 7 June to release some $1.4 million to cover the worst damage caused by heavy floods in the southern and western parts of the country, MIA reported. In addition, the government mandated a solidarity contribution worth one day's pay from all its officials. "Water and electricity supply has been restored, as well as the phone lines. Rail and cargo traffic between Macedonia and Greece has also been reestablished," Minister Without Portfolio Vlado Popovski told a press conference.
The Council of the European Union on 23 February adopted a decision approving the conclusion of the Stabilization and Association Agreement between the EU and Macedonia, which follows the completion of the ratification process in the EU member states, the council's official website announced (http://www.ue.eu.int). Macedonia and the EU signed the Stabilization and Association Agreement in Luxembourg on 9 April 2001 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 April 2001).
In an exclusive interview with MIA news agency, Russian Ambassador to Macedonia Agaron Asatur said in Skopje on 23 September that an international conference dealing with borders in Southeast Europe should be convened. The purpose would be to fix the existing borders in the region once and for all and to regulate the status of national minorities, Asatur said.
Security forces clashed with unidentified armed groups in northern Macedonia on 7 September, Reuters and dpa reported, quoting an Interior Ministry spokeswoman. The fighting broke out during a police operation to "neutralize" what she called criminal and militant groups in the village of Brest on the border with Kosova. A brief police statement added that "the armed groups have been dispersed and neutralized in that region.
The government body coordinating the campaign to disarm the civilian population decided on 11 July that the planned weapons collection will take place between 1 October and 15 November, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. Gezim Ostreni, who is a former military commander of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK) and now heads the coordinating committee, said there will be no extension of the deadline to hand in illegally held arms.
Vlado Popovski, who is a minister without portfolio in charge of refugee questions, told the government on 2 June that there are still 5,548 internally displaced persons in the country, MIA news agency reported. In July 2002, the official number of displaced persons was 5,762. According to data collected by the Labor and Social Affair Ministry and the Red Cross, more than 1,400 families cannot return to the homes they left during the 2001 interethnic conflict. Some 3,942 displaced persons found refuge with other families, while 1,606 persons are still living in refugee centers.
A dispute between ethnic Albanian and Macedonian youths in Tetovo late on 16 May escalated into an hour-long brawl during which two Albanian youths were wounded by gunshots, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. Police managed to end the street fighting but could not stop participants from destroying several shops, bars, and cars.
More than 1,000 Romany refugees from Kosova who have lived in a UNHCR camp outside Skopje since the 1999 Kosova crisis refuse to leave the camp, RFE/RL's Macedonian broadcasters reported on 31 March. The UNHCR set a deadline of 31 March for the refugees to go and promised them financial aid in seeking private accommodations in Macedonia. The refugees want either to stay in the camp or to return to Kosova. They accuse the UNHCR of being unable to guarantee their safe return home.
Macedonia's minister in charge of internally displaced persons, Vlado Popovski, said on 6 March that he expects most of those targeted by the government's 7 March deadline to return home will do so, local media reported. The midday deadline is for internally displaced persons from the Tetovo region to leave their temporary accommodations and return to their homes, "Utrinski vesnik" reported the same day.
Two Polish soldiers died in Macedonia on 4 March when a mine exploded under a patrol vehicle, Polish Radio reported on 5 March, quoting Defense Ministry spokesman Eugeniusz Mleczak (also see Macedonia item below). "The Honker vehicle driven by a Polish patrol that consisted of three soldiers and an interpreter hit a mine. It was probably an antitank mine, because two servicemen were seriously injured and unfortunately died on their way to an American hospital. The interpreter and the third serviceman suffered only light injuries, and their lives are not in danger," Mleczak said.
The Macedonian Security Council, meeting for the first time since the 15 September parliamentary elections, decided on 28 February to establish a joint parliamentary-governmental commission to investigate the fate of 18 people allegedly kidnapped during the 2001 conflict, RFE/RL's Macedonian broadcasters reported the same day (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 and 16 November 2001 and "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June and 9 July 2002).
Javier Solana, the EU's chief for security and foreign affairs, visited Skopje on 15 January, RFE/RL's Macedonian broadcasters reported. His talks with President Boris Trajkovski and high-ranking government officials focused on the implementation of the 2001 Ohrid peace agreement and on the EU's plans to take over the peacekeeping mission from NATO. Solana told reporters, "The EU is ready to take over NATO's peacekeeping mission in Macedonia," dpa reported.
By Breffni O'Rourke
By Jolyon Naegele
The government decided on 16 December that a concrete action plan for the implementation of the Ohrid peace agreement will be drafted by 23 December, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. The Ohrid peace agreement, which granted Macedonia's Albanian minority greater rights, was signed on 13 August 2001 by the leaders of key political ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian parties, ending the conflict between the ethnic Albanian rebels of the National Liberation Army (UCK) and the Macedonian security forces.
NATO'S Operation Amber Fox ended on 14 December and was succeeded by the 450-strong operation called Allied Harmony the next day, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 16 October, 15 and 28 November, and 12 December 2002 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 February, 8 March, 3 May, 16 August, and 15 November 2002). The new mission will focus on advising the Macedonian military and helping prepare that country for NATO membership (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 22 November 2002).
Lawmakers on 18 November voted to form a standing Committee on Relations between Ethnic Communities, "Utrinski vesnik" reported the following day. The committee will include 19 members, including seven seats reserved for ethnic Macedonian legislators and seven for ethnic Albanian deputies. The Serbian, Vlach, Turk, Romany, and Bosnian minorities will each field one member. The interests of minorities not represented within the parliament will be represented by the national ombudsman.
From RFE/RL Balkan Report Volume 6,
Macedonia's Albanians harbor high hopes in the new government, especially that the ministers of Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) will not repeat the mistakes Albanian politicians made in the past. But they also hope that Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski and his cabinet members from the Social Democratic Union (SDSM) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have learned from previous experiences.