North Macedonia Year in Review: 2019 a historic year

North Macedonia Year in Review: 2019 a historic year

The year 2019 was a historic year for the Republic of North Macedonia, as with the constitutional revision of January changed the name of the country, ending a long standing dispute with Greece; the Presidential elections were held, with the candidate of the ruling coalition winning the election. Also, a number of prominent figures visited the country, such as Pope Francis, US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo, but also Alexis Tsipras, the first ever official visit of a Greek Prime Minister to the country.

January 11: The Parliament of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia votes with 81 votes in favor, out of a total of 120 MPs, the constitutional revision of the country and the Prespa Agreement that changes the country’s name to “North Macedonia”.

January 25: The Greek Parliament ratifies the Prespa Agreement with 153 votes in favour, 146 against and 1 present. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is officially recognized as the “Republic of North Macedonia”, ending a 27-year long dispute.

February 6: The Protocol for the integration of North Macedonia in NATO is signed at the Alliances’ Headquarters in Brussels. The protocol is signed by the Permanent Representatives of the 29 NATO member states and by the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Dimitrov.

February 8: With a vote of 153 in favour out of a total of 294, the Greek Parliament ratifies the protocol for the accession of “North Macedonia” to the NATO Alliance.

February 12: The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is officially renamed North Macedonia.

February 13: The UN is briefed on the country’s new name as Republic of North Macedonia.

A tragic accident occurs outside of Skopje when a bus is overturned, killing 14 passengers and injuring 30.

February 16: The Prime Ministers of Greece and North Macedonia, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev are awarded in Munich with the Ewald von Kleist Award for the Prespa Agreement, on the sidelines of the 55th Security Conference.

March 18: The Russian Federation recognizes the Republic of North Macedonia under its new name.

April 2: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras officially visits North Macedonia where he is received by his counterpart Zoran Zaev.

April 21: The first round of the sixth Presidential elections takes place. SDSM candidate Stevo Pendarovski and VMRO-DPMNE candidate Gordana Silianovska pass to the second round with 44.75% and 44.16% respectively. The candidate of the Albanian parties’ Alliance for Albanians and BESA, Blerim Reka, comes third with 11.08%.

May 5: The second round of the Presidential elections is held in North Macedonia, with the Social Democratic Party candidate SDSM winning the election with 53.59% over his opponent’s 46.41%.

May 7: For the first time in the history of North Macedonia, Pope Francis visits Skopje. During his stay there he meets with the President at the time, Gjorge Ivanov, and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, sending messages of peace and coexistence in a mass gathering.

May 31: The Greek Liaison Office in Skopje becomes an Embassy and the Office of Monastiriou Consular Trade and Economic Affairs becomes the Consulate General. Correspondingly, the Liaison Office of Northern Macedonia in Athens is upgraded into an Embassy and the Consular Trade and Economic Affairs Office of Thessaloniki to Consulate General.

June 11: The Parliament of North Macedonia formally strips former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of his parliamentary capacity.

June 19: The General Affairs Council of the European Union decides the postponement of the start of accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania for October.

June 27: A Budapest court responds negatively to a request by North Macedonia to extradite former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

August 9: The Italian newspaper La Verita publishes video and telephone conversations implicating special prosecutor Katica Jianeva in a blackmail and bribery scandal, involving the termination of a corruption lawsuit against businessman Orce Kamcev.

August 21: Special prosecutor for the fight against organized crime Katica Jianeva is arrested on suspicion of blackmailing an entrepreneur.

September 24: First meeting between Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in New York, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

October 4: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits North Macedonia, where he meets with government officials in Ohrid. During the visit – the first of a US Foreign Minister since 2001 – Pompeo expressed satisfaction with the country’s commitment to the European Union and NATO.

October 11: The first meeting of the Serbian President’s initiative named the “Mini Schengen” takes place in the Serbian town of Novi Sad, with the participation of Prime Ministers of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev, Albania Edi Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

17/18 October: Although earlier EU leaders had said they expected North Macedonia and Albania to receive a date for EU accession talks, the EU General Affairs Council, which is composed of the foreign ministers of the members states, during a two-day meeting in Luxembourg, decided not to start accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, following a veto by France.

October 19: Following the EU’s decision not to start EU accession talks with North Macedonia, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, in a live message, suggested holding early parliamentary elections. Following the announcement of the decision by the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, the country’s President Stevo Pendarovski convened a meeting of the political leaders of the parties, where it was agreed to hold early elections on 12 April 2020.

November 10: Prime Minister of Northern Macedonia Zoran Zaev receives Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the second Schengen initiative meeting in Ohrid, which is also attended by representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Discussions revolve around improving regional co-operation in order to eliminate all obstacles to the free movement of persons, goods and capital.

November 14: Zoran Zaev meets with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Thessaloniki, on the sidelines of the Thessaloniki Summit 2019.

November 26: Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias pays an official visit to North Macedonia.

December 21: The third Schengen initiative meeting takes place in Tirana amid protests for the presence of the Serbian President there. The meeting is attended by host Edi Rama and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev and Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović, the latter for the first time./ibna