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North Macedonia

Last updated: March 2019


Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on 2 March 1995. The first ambassador of North Macedonia to Estonia Tihomir Ilievski, residing in Stockholm, presented his credentials on 21 September 1995. In 2007 North Macedonia officially opened a diplomatic representation in Tallinn, which became an embassy in 2010. The ambassador of North Macedonia to Estonia Sašo Veljanovski, who presented credentials to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on 15 February 2013, left from Estonia in January 2017. Afterwards, North Macedonia has been represented in Estonia by charge d'affaires. The first Estonian ambassador to North Macedonia was Aivo Orav, who resided in Ankara, Turkey, followed by Arti Hilpus and Daniel Schaer who both resided in Tallinn. Estonia’s current ambassador to North Macedonia Kristi Karelsohn (residing in Budapest) presented his credentials to the President of North Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov on 18 January 2019.

The Honorary consul of Estonia to North Macedonia is Saško Miladinov and the Honorary Consulate in the town of Štip was formally opened during the visit of Foreign Minister Urmas Paet on 19 November 2008. The Honorary consul of North Macedonia in Estonia is Peter Roose. The Honorary Consulate of North Macedonia, situated in Tartu, was opened during the visit of Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki in February 2012.

Visits

To North Macedonia
July 2017 Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Matti Maasikas
October 2012 Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts, accompanied by a business delegation
June 2012 Minister of Culture Rein Lang
October 2009 President Toomas Hendrik Ilves
November 2008 Foreign Minister Urmas Paet
March 2008 Prime Minister Andrus Ansip
To Estonia
December 2017 Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani
November 2017 Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Dimitrov 
March 2015 Minister of Information Society and Administration Ivo Ivanovski, accompanied by a business delegation
February 2014 Minister of Work and Social Affaires Dime Spasov
June 2013 Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski
February 2012 Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki
November 2011 Minister of Culture Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska
October 2010 President Gjorge Ivanov, Minister of Information Society Ivo Ivanovski
April 2010 Minister Antonio Milošoski attended the NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Tallinn
March 2009 Foreign Minister Antonio Milošoski
October 2008 Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Ivica Bocevski
April 2008 Minister of Investments Gligor Tashkovich
February 2008 Minister of Information Society Ivo Ivanovski

Furthermore, on 26 November 2013, Prime Minister of Estonia Andrus Ansip and Prime Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Gruevski met bilaterally in Bucharest during the summit between China and Central and Eastern European countries. In December 2014, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia Keit-Pentus Rosimannus and Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Poposki met in Basel in the margins of OSCE Ministerial Council. Prime ministers Nikola Gruevski and Taavi Rõivas met in November 2015 in Beijing on the margins of the meeting of China and Central and Eastern European countries. Foreign Minister of Estonia Marina Kaljurand and Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Nikola Poposki met during the Munich Security Conference in February 2016. The current Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser also met his counerpart Poposki a year late at the same conference. In July 2016 in the margins of NATO Summit in Warsaw the former Minister of Defence of Estonia Hannes Hanso met his counterpart Zoran Jolevski. Regular political consultations have taken place between the foreign ministries of the two countries as well as many departmental and training visits.

Interparliamentary co-operation

An Estonia - North Macedonia parliamentary group has been formed in the XIII Riigikogu and it was formerly chaired by Eerik Niiles-Kross. In the XII Riigikogu an Estonia - North Macedonia parliamentary group was also formed and chaired by Margus Hanson. The Estonian friendship group created in the Parliament of North Macedonia in the beginning of 2007 was chaired by Liljana Popovska until the last elections in North Macedonia in December 2016. 

The members of the Estonia - North Macedonia parliamentary group visited North Macedonia from 3-6 October 2007. Meetings were primarily held with Parliament members and officials of North Macedonia, as well as with the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the IT Minister. A delegation of the Riigikogu’s European Union affairs committee visited North Macedonia in May of 2013, where in addition to their colleagues in Parliament they also met with Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki and Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Fatmir Besim.

Agreements

The following agreements have been concluded between Estonia and North Macedonia:

  • Agreement on International Road Transport of Passengers and Goods between the Republic of Estonia and the Republic of Macedonia, signed 30.05.2000 (came info effect 22 August 2000)
  • Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Tax Evasion (signed 20 November 2008, came into effect 21 May 2009)
  • Agreement on the Exchange and Mutual Protection of Classified Information (signed 20 November 2008, came into effect 1 June 2009)
  • Implementation Protocol between the Government of the Republic of Estonia and the Government of the Republic of Macedonia on the Readmission on Illegally Residing Individuals Agreement between the European Community and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (signed 23 April 2010, came into effect 23 July 2010)

Economic Relations

Economic relations between Estonia and North Macedonia are modest, but have seen growth over the past few years.

In 2017 North Macedonia was Estonia’s 75th partner in volume of trade (in 2016 88th). Primary articles of export from Estonia to North Macedonia in 2017 were machinery and equipment (80%), plastic and plastic products (5%), wood and foodstuffs (4%). Main imports in 2017 were machinery and equipment (94%).

In order to develop economic co-operation, the Minister for Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts visited North Macedonia in the beginning of October 2012 along with a business delegation. A North Macedonia - Estonia business forum was organised in order to help develop connections between businesses of both countries. In addition, a business forum was held in Tallinn during the June 2013 visit of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in order to introduce investment opportunities in North Macedonia. In March 2015 a delegation of North Macedonian businessmen visited Tallinn together with the Minister of Information Society Ivo Ivanovski and a business forum took place in the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Estonian - North Macedonia trade 2009-2016 (in thousands of euros)

  2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Export 50.3 128 397 172 195 169 213 1761 2405
Import 36.1 56 257 243 503 119 191 1137 3691
Turnover 86.4 184 654 414 698 288 404 624 6024
Balance 14.2 72 140 -71 -308 51 22 512 -1214

All economic figures originate from the Statistics Estonia

Defence co-operation

Defence co-operation between Estonia and North Macedonia began in 2004 and has been fairly regular.
Many soldiers of North Macedonia have studied in Estonia and from 2004-2007, Estonia sponsored the studies of three soldiers of North Macedonia at the Baltic Defence College. During the 2007-2008 academic year, a representative of North Macedonia took part in the Joint Command and General Staff Course and in 2009 in the Army Intermediate Command and Staff Course.

  • Estonia took part in the EU’s military mission Concordia from 31.03.2003 – 15.12.2003 with one staff officer.
  • Estonia took part in the EU Police Mission Proxima from 15.12.2003 - 14.12.2005 with 1 staff officer.

Development co-operation

Over the years Estonia has supported North Macedonia in implementing many projects. These have primarily been geared towards developing Macedonian e-government. Some projects that have taken place over the years:

  • From 11-16.05.2008, the e-Governance Academy organised a training course in Tallinn for state officials of North Macedonia on the usage of information technology and the division of labour among the Estonian Land Board and the other establishments in its jurisdiction.
  • From 2-3.06.2008 an expert of the Estonian Land Board consulted officials of North Macedonia on-site.
  • From 19.-22.10.2008 a representative of AS Cybernetica visited North Macedonia and consulted with IT Minister Ivo Ivanovski on X-Road matters.
  • From May-October 2010 a project was carried out in North Macedonia in order to share Estonia’s experiences with establishing an electronic identity system.
  • Estonia has provided scholarships for diplomats from North Macedonia to attend the Estonian School of Diplomacy. Most recently a Macedonian student attended the school during the 2013/2014 academic year.
  • In April 2012 a group from North Macedonia came to Estonia for a study trip, which was funded by resources from the European Union TAIEX programme. During the trip, Estonia shared its experiences with implementing international sanctions.
  • During 2014-2015, in the framework of development cooperation, Estonia supported a project to develop the telephone based medical counselling for the inhabitants of North Macedonia.
  • In October 2014 a study visit of three journalists from North Macedonia to Baltic Film, Media, Arts and Communication School took place, financed by the Estonian development cooperation budget.
  • In March 2015 a North Macedonian business delegation visited Tallinn and participated in a business forum in the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which was also financed by the Estonian development cooperation budget.
  • In September and October 2015 the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Personnel Manager from the Ministry of Finance carried out a TAIEX project for civil servants of North Macedonia about the labour market and work related legislation.
  • Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board participates in North Macedonia together with the Netherlands and Slovenia in a Twinning project in the area of agriculture and agricultural registers. The aim of the project is to further strengthen the AFSARD (Agency for Financial Support of Agriculture and Rural Development of North Macedonia) and to help the Agency to prepare for the EU aid programming period 2014-2020.
  • In May 2016 a TAIEX Study Visit on the Use of Digital Certificates for Public Services  took place in Tallinn. 
  • On March 30, 2016 the Estonian Auditors' Association signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Council for Advancement and Oversight of Audit of the Republic of North Macedonia (CAOARM) in Tallinn. The cooperation will involve staff of both institutions through exchange of information, know-how and skills, thus enhancing the institutional capacities.
  • In 2016 an Estonian expert carried out training on statistics for health sector officials of North Macedonia, financed by WHO.
  • An Estonian NGO "Eesti Abikeskused" implemented from January 2016 to March 2017 a project in North Macedonia which was funded by the IPA programme „Increasing the supply of the qualified work-force among the labour market risk-groups in Macedonia".

Culture

On 16 June 2009, the former Estonian Ambassador to North Macedonia Aivo Orav and Honorary Consul Saško Miladinov opened a photo exhibit about the Estonian island of Kihnu in Stip. During 2009 the exhibit was displayed in various locations around North Macedonia. On 14 October, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves opened the same exhibit in the capital Skopje.

In the beginning of 2010 the secretary general of the Ministry of Culture of North Macedonia visited Estonia and met with representatives of the Ministry of Culture and the Tallinn 2011 project.

In August 2011 Estonian archaeologists visited North Macedonia at the invitation of the Stip Museum and became acquainted with excavations in the area.

From 4-5 November 2011, Minister of Culture of North Macedonia Elizabeta Kancheska-Milevska visited Estonia. On 4 November she met with Minister of Culture Rein Lang. During the events of the North Macedonia Week organised within the framework of Tallinn Capital of Culture 2011, visitors were introduced to Macedonian handicrafts, embroidery, national garments, contemporary art, and folk dances and songs. Minister of Culture of Estonia Rein Lang paid a reciprocal visit to North Macedonia in June 2012. During his visit he saw museums in Skopje, visited the town of Ohrid, and met with the minister of culture and the directors of cultural institutions.

Estonia and North Macedonia have also co-operated in the area of librarianship in the past few years. For example, the late-19th century work by Slavonic scholar Gotthilf Leonhard Masing on the definition of Slavic languages was found from the Tartu Uinversity Library and digitalised. Thanks to the co-operation of Macedonian representation in Estonia and Tartu University, the digital copies of the work were given to be stored at the Macedonian Academy of Sciences, the library of the state university, and Macedonian Language Institute. North Macedonia has acknowledged this act by giving the Tartu University library works on Macedonian language, history, and culture. Now one can also find Macedonian magazines on the shelves of Estonian libraries for the first time ever.

In addition, Macedonian films have been screened during the Black Nights Film Festival.

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