Debates on the need to hold a census in FYROM

Debates on the need to hold a census in FYROM

IBNA Special Report

Skopje, June 26, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

A debate has sparked in former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the recent days about the need to hold a census of the population.

The country hasn’t yet done this, 12 years after the last registration. In 2011, the attempt to carry out a census in the country failed.

Based on the 2002 registration, FYROM has 2.022.547 people, out of which 65% are Macedonian, 25,17% are Albanian, 3,85% are Turkish, 2,66 belong to the Roma community, 1,78% belong to the Serb community and other minorities.

International and domestic organizations demand this census in order to have an accurate picture of the population and communities, of the economic and social trends and many other issues.

A problem in the country is also the number of voters in FYROM, because out of 2,1 million people, 1,8 million have the right to vote. This figure has been considered as unreal and has sparked strong debates.

“Info center” non government organization has launched a campaign of debates for the need of holding the census. “The census is democracy and not just a number that indicates ethnicities” is the motto of these debates, which have invited representatives of civil society, university professors and representatives of state institutions and media.

“We have launched this campaign to increase awareness and recommend to state responsible institutions to carry out the census as soon as possible. There cannot be successful policies of development if we don’t have the census of the population. Without the census, we will not be able to implement educational, economic and social policies. Therefore, this census is important, because our country is the only one which hasn’t carried it out”, says Biljana Bejkova from “Info Center” NGO.

The government hasn’t made provisions for the holding of this census  this year and this is confirmed by the fact that no funds have been allocated from the 2014 budget.

University professor, Abdulmenaf Bexheti, who in 2011 resigned from the post of the vice chairman of the State Census Commission, said that the approach of institutions shows that there’s no will in carrying out a transparent census.

“A day before the start of the census, I withdrew, because in my opinion, we’re not ready to do this. There was no political trust and will to realize the census. There cannot be trust when the State Authority of Statistics and its sectors have no Albanians in leading positions. I believe that with the current political composure, Macedonia does not have the capacities to hold a census. The latest theses that Macedonians must increase birth rates, because they’re being endangered by Albanians, are damaging and must not be cultivated. But, we can see that they also have institutional support”, said for IBNA the professor on economic and social issues, Bexheti.

The government continues to keep quiet and not launch any incentives for the holding of the census. There are not even signals that this census will be organized in 2015. In his latest declaration for the census, Nikola Gruevski declared that the concept for the realization of the census must be changed. “We’re making the necessary preparations on this process and we will secure a special software which will identify the presence of every citizen in the country and abroad. In 2011, we saw a lot of irregularities and manipulations with the data”, declared Gruevski.

International community has also demanded the holding of the census in the country, as FYR Macedonia is the only country in the region without a census.

Stefan Shenah, rapporteur of the ad-hoc commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and head of the delegation of this mission in the recent elections, declared that the situation is worrying, because the country doesn’t have a fresh census.

“For the EC Parliamentary Assembly, the presence of 1,8 million voters in a country with 2,1 million people is out of the ordinary. The assembly demands the examination of voters’ lists and partial registration, because it’s important to have faith on the electoral process”, said Shenah. But, even the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other international institutions have demanded a new census to have a clear picture on the developments in the country. /ibna/