Northern Macedonia (until 2019 Macedonia). According to CountryAAH, the total population in North Macedonia is 2,083,385 people in 2020. President Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash in February together with six employees. In the recent election held in April, Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, leader of the Social Democratic SDSM, won. Crvenkovski appointed Hari Kostov as new prime minister. However, Kostov, who was not a member of any of the three government parties, resigned in November. He pointed to the lack of necessary reforms, claiming that one of the parties was committed to guarding minority rights and promoting corruption. Kostov was clearly referring to the Albanian party DUI. New Prime Minister became Defense Minister Vlado Bučkovski, who was just appointed SDSM’s new leader. He formed a new government in December.
Parliament decided in August to redraw the map of the country’s municipalities and give them increased autonomy in accordance with the Ohrid agreement which set the point for the fighting in the country in 2001. The aim was to give the Albanian minority greater influence in areas where they dominate. The Macedonian-nationalist opposition party VMRO-DPMNE protested vigorously and forced a referendum on the municipal merger. To both the government and the outside world, the turnout was only 26%, far from the 50% required for the law to be annulled. Thus, the government could expect continued support from the Western powers, something that poor Macedonia is in desperate need of. During the year, the country formally applied for membership in the EU.
The disputes with Greece over the use of the name Macedonia continued in 2008, with Greece partly stretching its legs for Macedonia’s accession to NATO and in December suspending the accession negotiations with the EU.
Macedonia had only to a limited extent been part of the speculative circus and loan-financed consumption that had affected the rest of Europe, and the country was therefore only to a limited extent affected by the global economic crisis that fully broke through in 2008. The country’s GDP fell therefore only 1.5% in 2009.
The first round of the Macedonian presidential election in March 2009 was won by conservative Gjorge Ivanov with 35% of the vote. He got 63.1% of the vote in the second round in April and became the country’s new president. Ivanov would prioritize getting the country into NATO and the EU.
In November 2010, the tax system assisted by police conducted a raid targeting a TV station, 3 newspapers and a number of other private companies to investigate tax evasion. The opposition with the Social Democratic SDSM at the head called for a demonstration in front of Parliament. 50,000 took part in what the opposition called the persecution of government-critical media, yet the investigation continued and on December 24, 16 people were charged with tax evasion and money laundering. In late January 2011, the SDSM and the smaller opposition parties decided to withdraw from parliament in protest of the government’s “lack of democratic capabilities”. The opposition also demanded new elections. The government tried unsuccessfully to get the opposition back and ended up printing new elections in June 2011.
The parliamentary election was a defeat for the government coalition, which together lost 10 seats. In contrast, SDSM went up 18 mandates. However, the conservative nationalist VMRO-NP remained the largest party in parliament with 56 out of 123 seats. Therefore, despite the decline, Gruevski was able to continue as prime minister of a coalition government.
In January 2012, Gruevski inaugurated the so-called triumphal arch in Skopje, marking the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence.
The country’s Albanian minority continues to suffer severe repression. In February 2012, a policeman shot and killed 2 ethnic Albanians in Gostivar. New attacks on ethnic Albanians took place in March in Tetovo and Skopje. In May, 20 ethnic Albanians were arrested after 5 Macedonians were killed at Smilkovci Lake outside Skopje. Five of them were charged with murder, terrorism and torture. Thousands of ethnic Albanians demonstrated in favor of those arrested and were characterized by the authorities as terrorists.