History of the Republic of Macedonia

From Academic Kids

This article is about the history of a nation which now refers to itself as the "Republic of Macedonia", known internationally as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM). For history of the Macedonian region, of which a small part of FYROM overlaps, see Macedonia.



After the First Balkan War of 1912-13, Vardar Macedonia was made part of Serbia as Vardarska banovina ("Province of Vardar") and subsequently the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, whose 1929 constitution also called the area Vardarska banovina.

Following World War II

Following World War II, Yugoslavia was reconstituted as a Communist state under the leadership of the Communist Party led by Josip Broz Tito. In 1944, most of the former Vardar province was made into a separate republic of "Macedonia" (northernmost parts of the province became part of Serbia). In 1946, the province was given status as an autonomous "People's Republic of Macedonia" in the new Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In the 1963 Constitution of Yugoslavia, it was slightly renamed, to "Socialist Republic of Macedonia" (like all the others).

By creating this republic in the southernmost part of Yugoslavia and including "Macedonia" in its name, Tito's government offended Greece which had its own province of Macedonia around Thessaloniki and interpreted this to mean laying claim on Greek territory. The new Yugoslav authorities also imposed the development of the Macedonian Slav nationality and Macedonian language, which in turn offended Bulgaria where many people had close relatives belonging to the new "Macedonian nation".

1944-1949: During the Greek Civil War

During the Greek Civil War (1944-1949), many Macedonians (regardless of ethnicity) participated in the ELAS resistance movement organized by the Greek Communist Party. ELAS and Yugoslavia were on good terms until 1949, when they split due to Tito's lack of allegiance to Stalin (cf. Cominform). After the end of the war, the ELAS fighters who took refuge in southern Yugoslavia and Bulgaria weren't all permitted to return to Greece: only those who considered themselves Greeks were allowed, whereas those who considered themselves Bulgarians or Macedonians were barred. These events also contributed to the bad state of Yugoslav-Greek relations in Macedonia.


On September 17, 1991, the Macedonian republic declared independence from Yugoslavia as the Republic of Macedonia. Bulgaria was the first country to recognize the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name. However, international recognition of the new country was delayed by Greece's objection to the use of what it considered a Hellenic name and flag symbol, as well as a controversial quote from the Republic's constitution. To compromise, the United Nations recognised the state under the name of the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM) in 1993.

Greece was still dissatisfied and it imposed a trade blockade in February 1994. The sanctions were lifted in September 1995 after the Republic of Macedonia changed its flag and the constitution. The two countries agreed to normalize relations but the state's name remains a source of local and international controversy. The usage of each name remains controversial to supporters of the other.

After the state was admitted to the United Nations under the FYROM name, other international organisations adopted the same convention. Most diplomats are accredited to the republic using the FYROM designation. Conversely, at least 40 countries have recognised the country by its constitutional name – the Republic of Macedonia, rather than FYROM. A permanent agreement on how the Macedonian republic should be referred to internationally has not yet been reached.

During the Kosovo War of 1999, FYROM co-operated with NATO, but managed to stay out of the conflict. Some 360,000 Albanian refugees from Kosovo entered FYROM during the war, threatening to disrupt the balance between the Macedonian and Albanian ethnic groups in the country. Many later returned to Kosovo, but ethnic tensions grew.


FYROM President Kiro Gligorov was successful in keeping his country out of the first round of the Yugoslav wars, but the conflict eventually reached republic of Macedonia via the region's Albanian population. In 1999, the Kosovo War led to nearly 400,000 Albanian refugees from Kosovo fleeing into the Republic of Macedonia, greatly disrupting normal life in the region and threatening to upset the balance between Slavs and Albanians. Refugee camps were set up in the Republic of Macedonia and Greek Macedonia was used as a transit corridor for NATO forces moving to the region ahead of a possible invasion of Serbia. In the event, Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic capitulated and the refugees were allowed home under UN protection. However, the war increased tensions across the region. Relations between Slav and Albanian Macedonians became strained, while in Greece the overwhelming popular opposition to the war led to a strong reaction against NATO and the United States in particular.

In the spring of 2001, ethnic Albanian rebels calling themselves the National Liberation Army (probably made up of former members of the Kosovo Liberation Army) took up arms in the west of the Republic of Macedonia, demanding that the constitution be rewritten to enshrine certain ethnic Albanian interests such as language rights. The guerillas received support from Albanians in NATO-controlled Kosovo and ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the demilitarized zone between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia. The fighting was concentrated in and around Tetovo, the second largest city in the republic.

After a joint NATO-Serb crackdown on Albanian guerillas in Kosovo, EU officials were able to negotiate a cease-fire in June. The government would give ethnic Albanians greater civil rights, and the guerilla groups would voluntarily relinquish their weapons to NATO monitors. This agreement was a success, and in August 2001 3,500 NATO soldiers conducted "Operations Essential Harvest" to retrieve the arms. Directly after the operation finished in September, the NLA officially dissolved itself. Ethnic relations have since improved significantly, although hardliners on both sides have been a continued cause for concern and some low level violence continues particularly directed against police.

On February 26, 2004, President Boris Trajkovski died in a plane crash on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The results of the official investigation revealed that the cause of the plane accident was procedural mistakes by the crew, committed during the approach to land at Mostar airport.

See also


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