Nations in Transit

Macedonia

Macedonia

Nations in Transit 2014

2014 Scores

Democracy Score
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

4.00

Regime Classification

Transitional Government or Hybrid Regime

National Democratic Governance
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

4.25

Electoral Process
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

3.25

Civil Society
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

3.25

Independent Media
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

5.00

Local Democratic Governance
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

3.75

Judicial Framework and Independence
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

4.25

Corruption
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

4.25

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Capital: Skopje
Population: 2.1 million
GNI/capita, PPP: US $11,540


Source: The data above are drawn from The World Bank, World Development Indicators 2014.

 

NOTE: The ratings reflect the consensus of Freedom House, its academic advisers, and the author(s) of this report. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author(s). The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 7 the lowest. The Democracy Score is an average of ratings for the categories tracked in a given year.

Executive Summary: 

At the end of 2012, Macedonia’s governing coalition went to extreme lengths to approve the 2013 national budget, forcibly ejecting journalists and members of the largest opposition party from the National Assembly during the vote. “Black Monday,” as the date of these events came to be known, exacerbated the already difficult relationship between the ruling Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization–Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) and the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), resulting in a political crisis that virtually paralyzed governance in 2013. Both parties repeatedly threatened each other with early elections, and it took an intervention by the European Commission and other international bodies to dissuade the SDSM from boycotting local elections in March.

Although the political crisis nearly delayed the vote on the European Commission’s spring report, the annual progress report published in October acknowledged a number of positive developments in Macedonia and stated the country is still on track toward candidate status. Nevertheless, the naming dispute with Greece, which claims exclusive rights to the geographical designation “Macedonia” on historical grounds, led the European Council to postpone the beginning of accession negotiations for a fifth consecutive year.

Concerns about declining media freedom in Macedonia over the last several years were amplified in 2013 by the arrest and harsh sentencing of investigative journalist Tomislav Kezarovski. Kezarovski, who was kept in pretrial detention for several months, was sentenced to four and a half years in October for revealing the identity of a protected witness.  International media watchdogs also reacted negatively to a packet of media legislation that could potentially curb freedom of speech; the government promised to amend the laws at year’s end.

After a member of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was elected mayor of Centar, he fulfilled a campaign promise by initiating an audit of the multimillion-euro urban redevelopment project Skopje 2014. The investigation revealed several irregularities. Additional scandals linked to public procurement and party financing further underscored the scale of Macedonia's corruption problems.

National Democratic Governance.  The events of “Black Monday” effectively paralyzed governance in Macedonia for the first half of 2013, undermining progress towards European Union (EU) accession. Political deadlock eased after SDSM agreed to participate in the March local elections, but other deep-rooted problems, such as the name dispute with Greece or legacies of the 2001 interethnic conflict, remained largely unaddressed. Ethnic tensions rose in March, following the appointment of a former Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA) commander as defense minister. Macedonia’s national democratic governance rating remains unchanged at 4.25.

Electoral Process.  The ruling VMRO–DPMNE claimed the most seats in local elections held on 24 March, winning in 54 of Macedonia’s 80 municipalities, including the city of Skopje. The elections were assessed as free and fair, though minor incidents and irregularities were noted. In the months leading up to the elections, opposition SDSM threatened to boycott the vote, but they relented after the international community intervened to broker an agreement between the two main parties. Party financing in Macedonia lacks transparency, and the electoral framework remains in need of reform. Macedonia’s electoral process rating remains unchanged at 3.25.

Civil Society.  Compared to previous years, the government appeared more open to cooperation with the civil sector in 2013. Several initiatives, such as the online legislative register and the e-Democracy portal, aimed to foster cooperation and provide a favorable environment for civil society in Macedonia. At the same time, the number of politically connected NGOs remained high, and political ties with the government continued to discredit the sector. Macedonia’s civil society rating remains unchanged at 3.25.

Independent Media.  Media outlets in Macedonia are increasingly dependent on government advertising for financial support, contributing to their growing politicization and a further loss of credibility and readership. Pressures facing Macedonian media and journalists drew significant attention in late 2013, when investigative journalist Tomislav Kezarovski was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for revealing the identity of a protected witness in the 2008 “Oreshe” case. Local and international press watchdogs condemned Kezarovski’s harsh sentencing and lengthy pretrial detention, raising many questions about the merits of the case itself. In December, the government drew additional criticism when it adopted controversial media legislation in a quick, nontransparent process. Among other changes, the new laws expanded statutory regulation to print and online media. As the legislative and economic environment for independent media deteriorates, Macedonia’s independent media rating declines from 4.75 to 5.00.

Local Democratic Governance.  Political battles between the country’s largest parties hindered tangible progress on pressing issues such as decentralization or the need for greater fiscal independence from the central government. After local elections in March, both the governing and opposition parties repeatedly accused each other’s local representatives of abusing their position. In Centar, a key municipality of Skopje, newly elected opposition mayor Andrej Zernovski faced protests and pressure from the central government after he initiated an audit of the multimillion-euro redevelopment project Skopje 2014. Macedonia’s local democratic governance rating remains unchanged at 3.75.

Judicial Framework and Independence.  The judiciary in Macedonia is still plagued by allegations of selective justice, indirect political pressure, and unusually expedited lawsuits. The influence of the executive branch over legal proceedings was criticized in numerous high-profile cases during the year. Meanwhile, the Kezarovski trial highlighted flaws in the legal framework and a general lack of understanding of the institution of witness protection. As of December 2013, Macedonia replaced investigative judge-led proceedings with an adversarial system. Macedonia’s rating for judicial framework and independence remains at 4.25.

Corruption.  Although nearly every government in independent Macedonia’s history has claimed to prioritize the fight against corruption, graft remains widespread. The transparency of party finance and general public expenditures is especially lacking, and most citizens are still unwilling to report incidents of corrupt or illegal behavior. Newly documented irregularities and mismanagement related to the Skopje 2014 redevelopment project highlighted the nontransparency of procurement procedures, as well as an apparent lack of political will to improve the situation. A 2013 audit of the project initiated by the mayor of Centar concluded that uncompetitive bidding procedures and other irregularities had cost taxpayers approximately €8 million. As anticorruption efforts stagnate, Macedonia’s corruption rating declines from 4.00 to 4.25.

Outlook for 2014. Pervasive corruption, the deep politicization of the civil sector, and media outlets’ declining credibility threaten Macedonia’s democratic development and the future of EU and NATO integration. Presidential and parliamentary elections held in 2014 are not likely to result in sweeping changes, though they will probably expose pernicious political polarization. Poverty and high unemployment rates will continue to pose a problem and already fragile ethnic relations may suffer in case of another political deadlock.

National Democratic Governance: 

Political deadlock in the first half of 2013 jeopardized Macedonia’s spring progress report and stalled accession negotiations with the European Union (EU).[1] The country was granted candidate status in 2005, but continuous problems, including a 20-year-long naming dispute with Greece, resulted in the repeated postponement of opening talks. Macedonia, after Turkey, is the second country to spend almost a decade in the EU’s waiting room.

The deadlock started with a political crisis on 24 December 2012. Earlier, opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) had sought reductions in the 2013 budget to prevent a rise in the national debt, but the governing majority had denied their request. On “Black Monday,” as the day came to be known, SDSM members boycotting the vote were removed from parliament along with all journalists, and the budget was approved solely by MPs from the ruling Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization–Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) and its coalition allies. Outraged, SDSM continued its parliamentary boycott into 2013, announcing that it would boycott local elections held in March. The opposition also called for civil disobedience, organized protests, and set up blockades in front of government buildings and on the streets of Skopje.

Even though both VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM were aware that the crisis negatively affected the country’s EU integration process, neither showed willingness to overcome differences. Instead, both sides hoped they could improve their position and threatened to call early elections, revealing the polarized nature of Macedonian politics.[2]

Following repeated calls by representatives of foreign governments and international organizations—including EU enlargement commissioner Štefan Füle and the U.S. Embassy in Macedonia—negotiations resumed between the two main parties. At the end of January, President Gjorge Ivanov initiated the setup of an independent expert commission to investigate the events of 24 December. All parties welcomed the initiative, except SDSM, which claimed the commission was just “an attempt to avoid responsibility.”[3]

After a visit by the EU enlargement commissioner and two European Parliament members, however, SDSM agreed to participate in the ad-hoc commission and in local elections scheduled for 24 March. The so-called March 1 deal was hailed as a big success. In exchange, SDSM demanded a review of the electoral code based on recommendations by the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the amendment of the Law on the National Assembly, and a review of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly.[4]

A month after the ad-hoc commission started working in June, its chairman resigned, stating the work of the commission was blocked because VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM “did not share common ground.”[5] SDSM continued to insist that the events of "Black Monday" constituted a direct attack against the constitution, while VMRO-DPMNE claimed that members of parliament (MPs) of the biggest opposition party did not obey the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly and therefore should be criminally charged.[6] The commission report, containing recommendations on the parliament’s rules of procedures to prevent similar crises in the future, was published at the end of August.[7]

On a few occasions in 2013, disputes between politicians included legal battles. In July, a Skopje court ruled in favor of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in a libel suit against the leader of the opposition New Social Democratic Party (NSDP), Tito Petkovski. Petkovski was ordered to pay damages in the amount of €10,000[8] after he allegedly damaged Gruevski’s reputation and honor by telling the weekly newspaper Focus that he had agreed to change the country’s name in accordance with Greece’s demands.[9]

The naming dispute—which dates back to Macedonia’s independence from Yugoslavia in 1991—has stalled progress toward joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU for several years. Greece believes the use of “Macedonia” should refer solely to its own province of the same name and has pushed Macedonia to adopt “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” as its international moniker. Several proposals, such as the “Upper Republic of Macedonia” or the “Northern Republic of Macedonia,” were circulated in 2013 without any significant progress. However, the October report of the European Commission commended the continuation of official and expert-level contacts between the two countries. Ali Ahmeti, the leader of junior coalition partner Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) representing mostly ethnic Albanians, stated Albanians would accept any name that reflects the multiethnic character of Macedonia.[10]

The internationally backed Ohrid Framework Agreement, which ended fighting between Albanian separatists and Macedonian security forces in 2001, grants Albanian-majority areas the right to education in their native tongue and provides guarantees of multiethnic participation in government. Other legacies of the interethnic conflict, such as the issue of financial support to families of those killed in the conflict or the status of former members of the so-called Albanian National Liberation Army (NLA), remained unaddressed. Interethnic tensions flared up once again in March 2013, after former NLA commander Talat Xhaferi was appointed defense minister. His appointment was followed by angry demonstrations by ethnic Macedonians on 1 March and counter-protests by ethnic Albanians the following day. Both protests turned violent, ethnic-Albanian protesters damaged cars and set fire to a bus, and several people, including policemen, got injured.[11]

Electoral Process: 

Parliamentary elections in June 2011 gave Prime Minister Gruevski and the ruling VMRO–DPMNE a renewed mandate. The DUI party, which represents parties from the country’s Albanian minority, is a coalition partner, though the parties had repeatedly disagreed on some key issues, including EU and NATO integration and the name dispute with Greece. Elections put a dent in the VMRO-DPMNE’s parliamentary majority, though it still held 56 seats in the 123-member National Assembly while DUI won 15 seats. The opposition SDSM took 42 seats by winning some of VMRO-DPMNE’s former spots. Nevertheless, the elections marked the party’s fifth consecutive electoral loss to VMRO–DPMNE (three parliamentary elections, the 2009 local elections, and the 2009 presidential contest).

VMRO–DPMNE won in 54 of 80 municipalities, including in the city of Skopje, at municipal elections held on 24 March and 7 April 2013.[12] International and domestic observers assessed both rounds as free and fair, though minor incidents and irregularities such as group voting or problems with votes from diaspora citizens were noted.[13] Branko Crvenkovski, president of the opposition party SDSM, resigned following his party’s defeat. He was replaced by Zoran Zaev, mayor of Strumica.[14]

The elections also shook up the coalition government. In February, Gruevski reshuffled his coalition, mainly changing departments headed by DUI-nominated ministers as some of them were planning to run in the elections. Deputy Prime Minister Teuta Arifi, for example, resigned from her position to become mayor of Tetovo.

The biggest electoral battle took place in Centar, one of the 10 municipalities composing the capital. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate Andrej Zernovski—who ran against incumbent mayor Vladimir Todorovik of VRMO-DPMNE—announced he would undertake a general audit of the government's controversial multimillion-dollar Skopje 2014 urban redevelopment project.[15] Both rounds of the election and the rerun were characterized by high turnout and complicated by problems around voter identification. Albanian citizens from Pustec—a municipality bordering Macedonia with a significant Macedonian minority—allegedly obtained Macedonian identification documents and were transported on buses to vote for Todorovik.[16] The acquisition of identification documents was facilitated by a fast-track procedure that had been in use in previous elections, with no need for voters to prove residency in the municipality they registered to vote. Despite the increase in the number of registered voters, opposition candidate Zernovski won the mayoral seat.

Fallout from the violent ejection of opposition MPs from parliament during the December 2012 budget negotiations also affected the 2013 electoral campaign. In January and February, it was uncertain whether SDSM would continue with the boycott throughout the elections. They agreed to participate only at the beginning of March, after a visit from a European Commission delegation. In the first two months of 2013, however, the party did not nominate candidates in any of the municipalities, which led to some confusion. Stevcho Jakimovski, the incumbent mayor of Skopje’s Karposh municipality, for example, submitted his nomination as a candidate for the Serbian Advanced Party in Macedonia (SNSM) and was subsequently expelled from the SDSM. Jakimovski won the election and registered his own political party under the name of Civic Option for Macedonia (GROM).[17]

As predicted in 2012, VMRO–DPMNE and SDSM put rivalry aside and forged coalitions in the Albanian-dominated municipalities of Kichevo and Struga.[18] The move was vociferously criticized by civil society organizations, who argued it resulted in heightened interethnic competition and endangered the already fragile relationship between the two ethnicities in Macedonia. In the end, both seats were won by the Albanian candidate.

In mid-October, the president of the State Electoral Commission and SDSM MP Boris Kondarko resigned following accusations of hindering the work of the committee by VMRO–DPMNE; he cited personal reasons behind his resignation. The electoral code, which was revised in November 2012, did not to comply with recommendations from the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Political party financing, regulated by the Electoral Code and the Law on Financing of Political Parties, lacks transparency in practice. Surveys on electoral campaign funding have shown a failure to report donors—except for a few party members—which means the biggest donations to political parties are concealed from the public. At the same time, overspending by parties during the campaign remains a problem—this was especially true in the case of advertising spending by the two biggest political parties, VMRO–DPMNE and SDSM. Opaque practices in campaign advertising are also problematic: although price lists quote equal prices to all candidates, major political parties are often given significant “discounts” on their advertisements.[19]

Throughout 2013, Macedonia’s major political parties threatened to call early elections. SDSM demanded snap elections following the events of last December and their subsequent parliamentary boycott.[20] Media also speculated that early parliamentary elections might be scheduled to take place alongside the presidential election planned for 2014.[21] However, as of late December 2013, there were no concrete plans to move forward the legislative contest due to take place in 2015. In any case, a complete overhaul of the legal framework concerning elections—especially the laws on financing political parties and campaigns—will be key to creating an environment for healthy competition between ideas and platforms.

Civil Society: 

The government appeared more open to cooperation with civil society organizations in 2013. To signal this new approach, it requested the Ministry of Information Society and Administration to develop a framework that promotes communication and facilitates cooperation between stakeholders.[22] The main goal of the newly created online legislative register and the e-Democracy portal was to provide a favorable environment for the development of the civil sector.

In the second half of 2013, additional funding became available from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance II (IPA II), the successor of IPA for the budgetary cycle 2014–2020. Both IPA and IPA II are structural funds administered by the EU that aim to help a country’s accession. Fatmir Besimi, the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs, announced the government is open for suggestions from NGOs on how to allocate these funds.[23] Several NGOs heeded his call and petitioned the government to take advantage of IPA II; the Macedonian Center for European Education, an NGO that had been analyzing the distribution and absorption of IPA funds, argued allocation of the funds for civil society development would create 8,000 new jobs in the sector.[24] According to a comparative analysis on the use of IPA funds, Macedonia received €622 million in the period between 2007 and 2013—out of which only 1 percent reached the civil sector.[25] In addition to lack of funding, this period was characterized by unwillingness from the government to cooperate with local NGOs and a lack of innovative ideas.

Despite cautious efforts at improving the dialogue between the government and the civil sector in 2013, cooperation was still unsatisfactory in many areas, especially on Roma rights, LGBT rights, gender equality, and other social issues. Following mob attacks on an LGBT support center and a gay TV star’s home in summer 2013, the parliament voted on a proposal to define marriage as “between a man and a woman” in the constitution. As a positive development, the amendment was voted down in September.[26]

The government took some steps toward implementing the 2012 strategy for cooperation, but most of its goals remain unattained. There was no real progress in amending current tax laws, which provide few tax breaks for NGOs and set administrative hurdles to accepting donations. Foreign funds remained the main source of financing, although many foreign donors left the country and some of them went through restructuring, replacing their country presence with regional offices in the Balkans. In some cases, donors decided to allocate all their funding in their home country.

Macedonia’s civil society sector remained highly polarized in 2013. Parallel civil movements with similar goals but different political loyalties continued to support different agendas throughout the year. Some of the NGOs critical of the government were linked to SDSM, while many organizations that supported the policies of the government, such as limiting abortion rights, had close ties with the ruling party VRMO–DPMNE and received funds from the central government budget.[27] This politicization hurt other organizations working for civil causes as they often failed to secure funding due to the lack of political connections.

In August 2012, a civil movement called AMAN was formed to protest the constantly growing price of central heating, electricity, and fuel. It led a petition drive for legislation that would protect consumers from what organizers saw as unfair pricing imposed by energy monopolies. At the end of January 2013, the movement succeeded to collect more than 13,000 signatures and submitted them to parliament, hoping that MPs would discuss the initiative and vote in favor.[28] The petition, however, was voted down in February.

In June, the parliament adopted a new law on abortion, introducing several measures that limited the right of pregnant women over their bodies, as well as the number of abortions within a year.[29] The law met with outrage from civil society organizations and elicited a torrent of responses, especially from NGOs working on patients’ rights. The initiative was backed only by a small NGO called Revita, which was founded by a member of VRMO–DPMNE and was asked to give an expert opinion on the law in the parliament.[30]

The Skopje-based Association for Health Education and Research (HERA) issued a strong statement, claiming that after the adoption of the law, Macedonia no longer belonged to the group of liberal democracies in Europe.[31] The organization also sent an open letter to President Gjorge Ivanov, asking him not to sign the law, but Ivanov dismissed the request, stating the organization had no legal arguments.[32] A few months later, HERA submitted a draft framework on sex education in schools, but this initiative was dismissed as well—this time by Minister for Education and Science Spiro Ristovski.[33]

Also in June, a civil initiative called Veritas protested against the alleged plan of Centar’s new mayor, Andrej Zernovski, to halt the building of a church in the center of the capital. Volunteers for Veritas, whose founder was married to a former deputy minister at the time of the protests, allegedly received free transport and sandwiches before the protests.[34] Zernovski announced he was planning to revise all building permits issued for the area where the project Skopje 2014 was being implemented.[35] The Church of St. Helena and St. Constantine was being built in the revised area—though it was unclear whether the mayor wanted to stop its construction.[36] His statement triggered an avalanche of criticism, including from priests and high-ranking representatives of the Orthodox Church. The Commission for Religious Relations and Religious Groups stated Zernovski’s actions were against God.[37] After several protests, one of which resulted in a broken window and an injured employee at the municipality, Zernovski announced the construction would go forward.

Independent Media: 

Macedonia’s media are increasingly politically polarized and often fail to provide objective or balanced reporting. Journalists are poorly paid and usually lack the technical resources to cover important stories. Government advertising accounts for a large share of the advertising market, contributing to self-censorship; at least 1 percent of the annual national budget is spent on state advertising campaigns, with government-friendly media favored highly over others.[38] The harsh sentencing of journalist Tomislav Kezarovski in 2013 elicited a powerful reaction among Macedonian media and NGOs as well as international media watchdogs, many of which interpreted Kezarovski’s arrest, lengthy pretrial detention, and sentencing as an act of government and judicial intimidation.

As an editor for the magazine Reporter 92 in 2008, Kezarovski published two articles about a murder case known as “Oreshe,” along with a copy of the court records and the first name of the main witness. [39] Five years later, in May 2013, Kezarovski—now a journalist for the daily Nova Makedonija—was taken into custody, where he remained until one month after his first-instance court sentencing in October. Following an immense public outcry, the courts amended his sentence to one of house arrest in November, pending the decision of the court of appeals.

Kezarovski’s arrest was unanimously condemned by local and international press freedom organizations. OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic, who had been closely following the case, called on the authorities to release Kezarovski, warning that the fact of his arrest and detention had already done serious damage to media freedom in Macedonia.[40] In addition to international criticism, hundreds of local journalists protested with tape over their mouths in front of the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Independence on 23 October. The protesters, who lit candles symbolizing “the burial of democracy in Macedonia,” were blocked by riot police from reaching their destination. The Skopje office of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights said police had violated the demonstrators’ freedom of assembly.[41]

Troubling details about the Kezarovski case also drew accusations of foul play. In February, the witness named in Kezarovski’s articles testified that he had given his original testimony against the “Oreshe” defendants under police pressure. He also stated that he had gained protected status only in 2010, two years after the publication of Kezarvski’s articles in 2008.[42] Other observers noted that Kezarovski’s arrest coincided with his investigation into the suspicious death of Nikola Mladenov, the owner of the critical newspaper Fokus.[43]

Throughout Kezarovski’s trial, government-oriented media tried to downplay the significance of the case by reporting on press freedom violations in other democratic countries and by claiming Kezarovski violated several other laws. Surveys about the March municipal elections also confirmed deep politicization; they showed unbalanced and partisan reporting, which was mostly biased toward the ruling VMRO-DMPNE.[44]

The events of “Black Friday” in December 2012 and the ensuing political crisis negatively influenced dialogue between government and journalists in 2013 and halted negotiations with the Association of Journalists on important issues regarding media freedom. Although both sides reached agreement on decriminalization of defamation in 2012, which was noted as a progress, high court fees and related expenses in civil lawsuits continue to threaten media pluralism.

In April 2013, the government introduced two draft laws—the Law on Media and the Law on Audiovisual Services—both of which were adopted in a quick, nontransparent process in December.[45] Several media organizations and independent experts criticized the laws, pointing out they aim to regulate all media, including print and online, through the same government-dominated media regulator, with seven of its members serving nine and its head eight years. In addition, the proposed laws included the definition of a journalist, placed blanket prohibitions on content, provided for hefty fines, and contained vague provisions that could be subject to abuse.[46] Responding to concerns that the adopted laws were not in line with Council of Europe and OSCE recommendations, at year’s end the Ministry for Information Society and Administration promised to make amendments.

Local Democratic Governance: 

Macedonia has 84 municipalities, plus the city of Skopje, a self-governing area consisting of 10 other municipalities. Though much emphasis has been given to the importance of the decentralization process called for under the Ohrid Framework Agreement in 2001, Macedonia’s local self-government is still controlled by both the central government and the national leadership of the political parties of municipal mayors. The decentralization process continued, but there was little progress in ensuring the financial independence of municipalities. The share of VAT transferred to local municipalities, for instance, was still insufficient to cover the costs of their responsibilities.

Municipal elections in 2013 resulted in a slight improvement in gender equality on the municipal level. Following 2009, when no female candidate got elected, four women were elected as mayors in Tetovo, Bogdanci, Gradsko, and Kisela Voda.

The political crisis following the removal of opposition MPs and journalists from parliament in December 2012 also had consequences on the local level. Most of 2013 was characterized by political battles which hindered tangible progress on several pressing issues, such as decentralization and fiscal independency from the central government. After local elections in March, both the governing and opposition parties repeatedly accused each other’s local representatives of abusing their position.

The most-discussed case was the case of Andrej Zernovski, newly elected mayor of Centar, one of the 10 municipalities composing Skopje. Zernovski, the president of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), won the mayoral seat after three rounds of elections in March and promptly suspended ongoing construction for the controversial multimillion-euro development project Skopje 2014. In addition, he announced a detailed audit of the project and promised to submit the findings to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.[47] The audit, which was published in August, revealed numerous irregularities, cost overruns, and allegations of corruption connected to the bidding processes conducted under previous mayor Vladimir Todorovik.[48]

In the same month, Zernovski halted the building of a Baroque-style parking garage in place of a small park to determine if the construction company had the relevant permits; the government accused him of boycotting the project. A month later, police detained 11 activists who protested against the demolition of the park and the disappearance of green spaces in the city center. The police deployed several hundred policemen, who stormed the park during the night to detain the activists. In the end, the building company was able to clear the area, cut the trees, and start building the garage.[49]

Over the course of the year, Zernovksi was faced with several protests, pressure from the government, and vigorous verbal attacks from the ruling parties. In May, following accusations by VRMO-DPMNE that he was employing people close to him from the party without advertising for the positions, inspectors from the Ministry of Labor and Social Politics paid a visit to the municipal office. The ministry later stated they were unaware of any investigation against Zernovski and the visit was part of a regular inspection.[50] In June, the mayor had to be evacuated from the municipal building after protesters—demonstrating against alleged plans to halt the building of an Orthodox church as part of the Skopje 2014 project—started chanting “Muslims!” and broke a window.[51]

According to SDSM, the government attempted to win back the majority in the municipality of its traditional stronghold, Centar, by accusing one of the councilors of fraud and placing him in pretrial detention.[52] In October, very shortly after SDSM party member Miroslav Sipovic was elected chairman of the Centar municipal council, he was accused of fraud in his role of chairing a local company’s board. As part of the investigation, police arrested 12 people for causing damages of €1 million to the company Masino Promet between 2008 and 2011. Since Sipovic was not in Macedonia at the time of the arrests, the Ministry of Justice issued an international warrant and asked Austrian authorities to extradite him. Sipovic claimed he was boarding the flight on his way back from a private visit to the U.S. when authorities detained him at Vienna International Airport. After its chairman was placed in custody, the municipal council was led by the oldest members of the council, and VMRO–DPMNE was lobbying for new elections. At year’s end, the Centar council had 23 members, narrowly divided between coalitions led by the biggest parties—12 belonging to the coalition called “Union for the Future,” led by SDSM, and 11 to the coalition named “For a Better Macedonia,” including VMRO-DPMNE.

Judicial Framework and Independence: 

The EU progress report, published on 16 October, remained critical about the situation of the judiciary in Macedonia. The report listed several problems, including “claims of selective justice, indirect political pressure, judgments which are unusually expedited in terms of outcome or speed” and high-profile cases that have a potential effect on the careers of judges working on them.[53] Even though a 2012 Council of Europe report indicated some positive developments and ranked Macedonia as a middle performer concerning judicial efficiency, the excessive length judicial proceedings continue to pose a problem.[54] The progress report also noted problems within the prison system—which remains understaffed and underfunded—ranging from torture and ill-treatment by prison guards to overcrowding. The latter was acknowledged by Ombudsman Idzet Memeti during his visit to journalist Tomislav Kezarovski in October.[55]

The Kezarovski case exposed flaws in the legal framework and the implementation of laws. The journalist—who had been arrested for revealing the identity of a protected witness in May—had already spent 172 days in pretrial detention by the time the courts changed it to house arrest. The finalization of the decision also took a few weeks, delaying the appeals process and extending Kezarovski’s detention. The first-instance ruling, which sentenced him to four and a half years in prison, was widely condemned by international and local human rights organizations; the Skopje branch of the Helsinki Committee claimed it to be unprecedented in Europe.[56]

The case revealed problems with the 2005 witness protection law, showing a lack of understanding of the institution of protected witness. Democratic Union MP Pavle Trajanov prepared amendments to the law in November, proposing to increase the punishment for perjury from a maximum of 4 years to at least 10 years.[57] In addition, he proposed to lower the punishment for journalists revealing information about a protected witness from at least four years to three months. Shortly after submitting it, however, he retracted the proposal, stating that there should be a broader public debate on the issue.[58]

The Skopje Criminal Court sentenced former prime minister Vlado Buchkovski to three years in prison in the case called “Tank Parts.”[59] Buchkovski and four other people were sentenced for misusing state funds; they had been accused of buying spare parts for Macedonian T-55 tanks in 2001—when Buchkovski was minister for defense—and spending over €2 million from the state budget. The former prime minister and SDSM party member claimed the case was politically motivated. A first-instance court sentenced Buchkovski for three years and five months in 2008; however, that ruling was quashed by an appellate court. The Skopje branch of the Helsinki Committee announced they plan to send the ruling to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for review, criticizing the influence of the executive in high-profile cases in Macedonia.

In July, in a high-profile case, police arrested the head of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office, Pasko Kuzman, for his alleged involvement in the smuggling of valuable archeological artifacts.[60] Kuzman, who is a well-known archeologist and is linked to the Skopje 2014 project, was charged along with 18 other suspects as part of an investigation called “Phalanx 2.” According to the charges, Kuzman and other government employees helped the transfer of artifacts out of the country. Minister for Internal Affairs Gordana Jankulovska ensured the public that police acted under the directions of the Public Prosecutor.[61]

Starting on 1 December 2013, the previous Law on Criminal Procedure was phased out, and investigative judge–led prosecutions were substituted by the adversarial system, where defense lawyers and public prosecutors have to collect evidence and investigate. The responsibilities of public prosecutors also changed with the new code: they can decide not to prosecute cases with a fine or penalty up to three years in jail in case the suspect agrees to “fulfill certain commitments by which the harmful consequences of the crime will be reduced or annulled.”[62] Even though the new law came into effect with a one-year delay, public prosecutorial teams were understaffed and investigation centers were not yet established at year’s end. Head Public Prosecutor Marko Zvrlevski, Minister for Internal Affairs Gordana Jankulovska, and Minister for Justice Blerim Bedgeti were optimistic, claiming the new law will provide faster justice for the citizens of Macedonia.[63]

Financial and quality management problems continued to plague the judiciary. The judicial budget was €29.6 million in 2013, with 80 percent of it allocated solely to pay the salaries of judges and administrative staff. The number of judges, however, was still about 50 percent higher than the rest of Europe compared to the size of the population.[64] The budget of the Academy for Judges and Prosecutors (AJP), which provides trainings and lifelong learning programs to members of the judiciary and prosecutors, decreased in 2013. Even though it is required by law for all new appointees to have graduated from AJP, the Judicial Council continued to ignore this requirement, appointing only 4 AJP graduates out of 39 new judges in 2012 and only 1 out of 13 in the first half of 2013.[65] Despite claims that there is a lack of qualified and well-trained judges and appointments are overly political, the director of AJP Aneta Arnaudovska was hopeful, stating in November that recent reforms contributed to an increasingly independent judiciary. She added that judges and prosecutors should be more “resistant to politics.”[66]

Corruption: 

Although nearly every government in independent Macedonia’s history has claimed to prioritize the fight against corruption, graft remains widespread. Year after year, EU progress reports criticize the nontransparency of party finance and general public expenditures, citing these as significant problems. The government’s response has been ad hoc, and 70 percent of respondents to Transparency International’s 2013 polling feel that corruption has either remained the same or worsened over the past two years.[67]

For five years, Skopje 2014 has been a source of controversy in Macedonia. It has been criticized for its baroque architecture and the nationalistic undertones evident in the choice of statues and monuments, but the dominant complaint concerns the project’s immense cost, which many believe is connected to public procurement fraud. When the project was launched in 2008, it was projected to cost around €80 million.[68] At a press conference in April 2013, the Ministry of Culture admitted that a total of €207 million had been spent on new buildings, monuments, and sculptures. However, NGOs estimate that the government has spent well over twice that amount,[69] and opposition parties like SDSM insist that the figure is closer to €1 billion.

Upon his election in March, the new mayor of Centar municipality initiated an audit to discover how the money being diverted from the state budget to Centar for the Skopje 2014 project was being spent. The first part of report, published in August, found €58 million of the funds transferred from the central budget account to the municipality of Centar unaccounted for. In addition, the review commission noted that the municipality had no right to approve monuments of national significance; such decisions could only be passed by parliament under Article 3 of the Law on Memorials and Monuments.[70] In November, the commission published its final report, which concluded that uncompetitive bidding procedures, cost overruns, lack of quality control, and other irregularities had cost taxpayers at least €8 million.[71] VMRO–DPMNE dismissed the report as biased.

Problems with rule of law and corruption were criticized in the annual EU progress report as well. The report concluded that corruption remained a “serious problem,” especially in the areas of public procurement and political party funding. Even though the legal framework was brought into line with European legislation in the past several years, implementation is still lagging behind. Maximum penalties with a deterrent effect are rarely used, and the courts’ capacity in prosecuting corruption cases needs significant improvement. Internal controls against corruptive behavior in state and public administration are poor and need to be overhauled. [72]

Lack of transparency in public procurement continued to pose a significant problem in 2013. According to a report by the Center for Civil Communications, a Skopje-based NGO, every fourth public procurement contract was concluded with only one company participating in the bidding process. Additionally, institutions avoided disclosing important information about the bids, and even though e-auction is mandatory in Macedonia, such auctions were not organized in 38 percent of the monitored procurements. Tenders were often annulled, and in the first quarter of 2013, contracts worth about €11 million were signed without prior calls for bids.[73]

There were some positive improvements, however. According to the May report of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), Macedonia had made progress in implementing GRECO’s recommendations from 2012; 35 out of 44 recommendations had been fully implemented, 6 were implemented partially, and 3 remained unimplemented.[74] A survey by Brima Gallup published in October found the perception of corruption is lowest in Macedonia (67 percent) and Montenegro (50 percent) in the Balkans; a Transparency International (TI) report concluded that the percentage of people admitting to have paid a bribe in the past 12 months dropped by 4 percentage points to 17 percent, compared to 2010.[75] Still, Transparency’s global corruption barometer showed a one-point increase in perceived corruption for 2013.

Reporting corruption, however, is still a taboo in practice. Hotlines for reporting bribery and corruption are dead, according to a survey published by the Center for Investigative Journalism SCOOP Macedonia in May. The survey showed that very few people reported any cases on the telephone lines set up by the government in 2007, and hotlines operated by state institutions were even less used.[76] The SCOOP survey, however, revealed that citizens do report corruption on hotlines operated by NGOs; they mostly complained of corrupt behavior in municipalities, law enforcement, the real estate market, tax corruption, etc. [77] A new initiative by USAID launched on 18 September aims to support civil society organizations and improve the integrity and accountability of state institutions. The program includes several innovative methods, including the Corruption Monitoring System (CMS), which will help gather detailed information about the types, levels, and trends of corruption.[78]

Author: Ljubica Grozdanovska Dimishkovska
Ljubica Grozdanovska Dimishkovska is a freelance journalist, media consultant, analyst, and researcher based in Skopje, Macedonia.
Notes: 

[1] Stanislava Gaydazhieva, “European Parliament might postpone FYROM vote,” New Europe, 15 February 2013, http://www.neurope.eu/article/european-parliament-might-postpone-fyrom-vote.

[2] Ognen Teofilovski, “Macedonian PM threatens early election over political deadlock,” Reuters, 24 August 2013, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/08/24/uk-macedonia-politics-deadlock-idUKBRE97N0BG20130824.

[3] “Brussels backs President Ivanov's initiative,” Macedonian Information Centre, 29 January 2013, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Brussels+backs+President+Ivanov's+initiative.-a0318776418; and Marina Stojanovska, “EU urges Macedonia to embrace integration path,” SETimes, 12 April 2013, http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2013/04/12/feature-02.

[4] Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Municipal Elections 24 March 2013, OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission Interim Report 25 February–11 March 2013 (Warsaw: OSCE/ODIHR, 13 March 2013), http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/100118?download=true.

[5] Naser Pajaziti, “Chairman of the commission for the December 24 events resigns,” Independent Balkan News Agency, 19 July 2013, http://www.balkaneu.com/chairman-commission-december-24-events-resigns/.

[6] “За СДСМ Уставот е прекршен, за ВМРО-ДПМНЕ некој треба и кривично да одговара” [For SDSM, the Constitution has been breached, for VMRO DMPNE someone should be criminally charged], MKD.mk, 20 July 2013, http://www.mkd.mk/makedonija/politika/za-sdsm-ustavot-e-prekrshen-za-vmro-dpmne-nekoj-treba-i-krivichno-da-odgovara.

[7]ИЗВЕШТАЈ НА КОМИСИЈАТА ЗАИСПИТУВАЊЕ НА НАСТАНИТЕ ВО СОБРАНИЕТО НА РМ ОД24.12.2012 ГОД [Report of the Commission about the Events of 24 December 2012], Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), 26 August 2013, http://www.sdsm.org.mk/upload/documents/Izvestaj%20na%20Komisijata%20za%2024%20dekemvri%202012.pdf.

[8] “Тито Петковски на Груевски треба да му исплати 650.000 денари” [Tito Petkovski to pay Gruevski 10,500 Euros (650,000 denars)], ALFA TV, 15 July 2013, http://www.alfa.mk/News.aspx?ID=59896#.UoD2b3Dkv_Y.

[9] “Tito Petkovski will pay 10 thousand Euro for insulting the Prime Minister,” Kurir.mk, http://kurir.mk/en/2014/01/16/tito-petkovski-will-pay-10-thousand-euro-for-insulting-the-prime-minister/.

[10] “Ахмети: За нас е прифатливо име со мултиетнички карактер” [Ahmeti: For us, a name with the multiethnic character is acceptable], PlusInfo, 25 January 2013, http://www.plusinfo.mk/vest/77640/Ahmeti-Za-nas-e-prifatlivo-ime-so-mult....

[11] Pelagija Mladenovska, “Поранешен командант на ОНА - нов министер за одбрана” [Ex ONA commandant – new Minister of Defense], Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), 18 February 2013, http://www.makdenes.org/content/article/24905885.html.

[12] “Macedonia's Ruling Party Claims Victory in Municipal Elections,” RFE/RL, 25 March 2013, http://www.rferl.org/content/macedonia-elections/24938087.html.

[13] “OSCE Concerned About Irregularities In Macedonian Local Elections,” RFE/RL, 25 March 2013, http://www.rferl.org/content/osce-macedonia-concerned-local-elections-irregularities/24938706.html; and Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Municipal Elections 24 March and 7 April 2013, OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission Final Report (Warsaw: OSCE/ODIHR, 9 July 2013), http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/103411.

[14] Borjan Jovanovsky, “Зоран Заев - нов претседател на СДСМ” [Zoran Zaev – new president of SDSM], Glas Amerike (Voice of America), 3 June 2013, http://mk.voanews.com/content/macedonian-voa-zaev-zoran-new-president-opposition-sdsm-macedonia/1674281.html.

[15] Despina Trajkovska, “Интервју – Ќе направам ревизија на Скопје 2014” [Interview – I will ask for an audit for Skopje 2014], Utrinski Vesnik, 20 March 2013, http://www.utrinski.mk/?ItemID=D7E7880952F234478E8AEBD4F0EF2FC5.

[16] Sinisa Jakov Marusic, “Macedonia’s Ruling Parties Win Second Round Polls,” Balkan Insight, 8 April 2013, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/macedonia-s-ruling-parties-win-round-two-in-local-polls.

[17] Republic of Macedonia Institute for Democracy “Societas Civilis” Skopje (IDSCS), The Republic of Macedonia’s 2013 Local Elections Handbook (Skopje: Konrad Adenauer Foundation, 24 April 2013), http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_33810-1522-2-30.pdf.

[18] “Заедничките кандидати на ВМРО-ДПМНЕ и СДСМ водат во Кичево и Струга” [Joint Candidates of VMRO DPMNE and SDSM lead the race in Kichevo and Struga], ALFA TV, 24 March 2013, http://www.alfa.mk/News.aspx?ID=53228#.UoDkbnDkv_Z.

[19] Pelagija Mladenovska, “ЕУ со забелешки за парите на партиите” [EU has objections for the money of the parties], RFE/RL, 30 October 2013, http://www.makdenes.org/content/article/25152804.html; and Transparency International (TI) Macedonia, Buying Influence: Money and Politics in the Republic of Macedonia (Berlin: TI, 2013), http://www.transparency.org/files/content/feature/2013_BuyingInfluenceMacedonia_EN.pdf.

[20] “EU Ends Macedonian Deadlock,” European Voice, 2 March 2013, http://www.europeanvoice.com/article/2013/march/eu-ends-macedonian-deadlock/76563.aspx.

[21] Katerina Blazevska, “Македонија се подготвува за предвремени парламентарни избори” [Macedonia is preparing for early Parliamentary Elections], Deutsche Welle, 22 October 2013, http://dw.de/p/1A480.

[22] Tatjana Malenkova, “Ново тело ќе ја зајакнува комуникацијата помеѓу владата и невладините организации” [A new body will facilitate the communication between the government and NGO’s], TVM, 20 June 2013, http://tvm.mk/vesti-mobil/ohrid/15010-novo-telo-nevladini-organizacii.

[23] “Бесими се сретна со НВО секторот за Извештајот и за Акцискиот план” [Besimi had a meeting with the NGO sector about the Report and the Action Plan], Sitel, 20 November 2013, http://www.sitel.com.mk/mk/besimi-se-sretna-so-nvo-sektorot-za-izveshtajot-i-akciskiot-plan.

[24] Miroslava Simonovska, “МЦЕО: Владата да даде повеќе пари за граѓанскиот сектор и ќе има вработувања” [Macedonian Centre for European Education (MCEO): The government to secure more money for the civil sector and there will be new employments], Plus Info, 3 September 2013, http://www.plusinfo.mk/vest/104755/MCEO-Vladata-da-dade-povekje-pari-za-gragjanskiot-sektor-i-kje-ima-vrabotuvanja.

[25] Institute for European Politics, “Користење на ИПА фондовите во Република Македонија” [Usage of IPA Funds in Republic of Macedonia] (Skopje: Institute for European Politics, March 2013), http://www.epi.org.mk/docs/koristenje_na_ipa_fondovite_vo_republika_makedonija(1).pdf

[26]Dan Littauer, “Macedonia rejects amending constitution to define marriage as one man, one woman,” LGBTQ Nation, 25 September 2013, http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2013/09/macedonia-rejects-amending-constitution-to-define-marriage-as-one-man-one-woman/.

[27]Meri Jordanovska, “Uncivil Society: The Politicisation of Macedonia’s NGOs,” Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, http://fellowship.birn.eu.com/en/fellowship-programme/fellowship-programme-2%C3%A5aa3-article-uncivil-society-the-politicisation-of-macedonia-s-ngos.

[28] “АМАН ги предаде потписите во Собрание” [AMAN has delivered the petition in the Assembly], Dnevnik, 30 January 2013, http://dnevnik.mk/default.asp?ItemID=6CD4C575C23E114AB9E8930A35180DF7.

[29] “Закон за прекинување на бременоста [Law on termination of pregnancy], Public Gazette Nr.87/2013, 17 June 2013.

[30]Jordanovska, “Uncivil Society.”

[31] Svetlana Bozhinovska, “Новиот закон за абортус пред Уставниот суд” [The new law in front of the Constitutional Court], 24 News, 26 September 2013, http://24vesti.mk/hera-noviot-zakon-za-abortus-pred-ustavniot-sud.

[32] “И покрај сите писма, Иванов си го потпиша законот за абортус” [Despite all the letters, Ivanov signed the Law for abortion], Lokalno.mk, 17 June 2013, http://lokalno.mk/2013-06-17-19-39-37/.

[33]“Петиција за воведување сексуално образование во училиштата” [Petition to introduce sex education in schools], Denesen.mk, 3 October 2013, http://denesen.mk/web/2013/10/03/peticija-za-voveduvanje-seksualno-obrazovanie-vo-ucilistata/.

[34] Jordanovska, “Uncivil Society.”

[35] “Жерновски побара стопирање на градежните работи спроти „Бристолˮ” [Zernovski called all the construction work across the “Bristolˮ to be stopped], Telma, 22 April 2013, http://telma.com.mk/index.php?task=content&cat=1&rub=15&item=26399.

[36] Hristina Naumovska, “Граѓаните со протести ја бранат Св. Константин и Елена” [The citizens is protecting the church St Konstantin and Elena with protests], 24 News, 6 June 2013, http://24vesti.mk/protesti-protiv-odlukata-na-zhernovski-da-stopira-izgradba-na-crkva.

[37] “Божиновска: Жерновски е олицетвроение на мрачните сили” [Bozinovska: Zernovski is an embodiment of the dark forces], PlusInfo, 7 June 2013, http://www.plusinfo.mk/vest/94945/Bozhinovska-Zhernovski-e-olicetvorenie-na-mrachnite-sili.

[38] Index on Censorship, “Macedonia: ‘Critical Media is vanishing’,” news release, 19 November 2013, http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2013/11/macedonia/.

[39] “Сведочења во ликвидација: Случајот Ореше беше замрсен уште од почеток” [Testimonials in the liquidation case: The Oreshe case was tangled up from the beginning], Telegraf, 2 September 2013, http://www.telegraf.mk/aktuelno/hronika/32665-svedocenja-vo-likvidacija-slucajot-orese-bese-zamrsen-od-pocetok.

[40] European Federation of Journalists, “EFJ Condemns Harsh Sentence Given to Tomislav Kezarovski,” news release, 21 October 2013, http://europe.ifj.org/en/articles/efj-condemns-harsh-sentence-given-to-tomislav-kezarovski; Reporters Without Borders, Call for imprisoned journalist’s immediate and unconditional release (Paris: Reporters Without Borders, 1 July 2013), http://en.rsf.org/macedonia-call-for-imprisoned-journalist-s-01-06-2013,44701.html; Southeast European Media Organization (SEEMO), SEEMO calls for release of reporter jailed in Macedonia / FYROM (Vienna, SEEMO, 24 October 2013), http://www.freemedia.at/home/singleview/article/seemo-calls-for-release-of-reporter-imprisoned-in-macedonia-fyrom.html; “OSCE slams jailing of Macedonia journalist,” Global Post, 21 October 2013, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131021/osce-slams-jailing-macedonia-journalist; and Sinisa Jakov Marusic “Rapporteur Detects ‘Fear’ in Macedonia Media,” Balkan Insight, 31 October 2013, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/ep-rapporteur-detects-pressure-and-fear-in-macedonia..

[41] “Со палење свеќи денеска симболично погребена слободата на зборот” [With lightening candles, the freedom of speech was symbolically buried], MKD.mk, 23 October 2013, http://www.mkd.mk/makedonija/politika/so-palenje-svekji-deneska-beshe-pogrebena-slobodata-na-zborot-fotogalerija#1; and Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia, “Unconstitutional prevention of the protest for support of the journalist Kezharovski,” news release, 23 October 2013, http://www.mhc.org.mk/announcements/155#.UoDy_XDkv_Y.

[42] Iskra Opetceska and Branislav Zakev, “Арсовски не бил заштитен сведок кога е објавен текстот за ‘Ореше!?’” [Arsovski was not a protected witness when the article about the Oreshe case was published!?], Nova Makedonija, 30 May 2013, http://www.novamakedonija.com.mk/NewsDetal.asp?vest=53013848394&id=9&setIzdanie=22891.

[43]Committee to Protect Journalists, “Investigative journalist imprisoned in Macedonia,” news release, 24 October 2013, https://www.cpj.org/2013/10/investigative-journalist-imprisoned-in-macedonia.php.

[44] Ljubisa Stankovikj, “The elections and the media coverage,” Utrinski Vesnik, 15 March 2013, http://utrinski.mk/?ItemID=D08B4585C6D37B40B283913655EF9D5A; “Media mirror - elections 2013,” NGO Info Centre, 7 May 2013, http://www.nvoinfocentar.org.mk/event.asp?site=mm&menu=&lang=mak&id=1534.

[45] Gordana Duvnjak, “Медиумските закони донесени, измените допрва” [The media Laws adopted, their changes will follow in the future], Utrinski Vesnik, 26 December 2013, http://www.utrinski.mk/?ItemID=1503E65F7D508047A90B2710C324BBB1.

[46] Association of Journalists of Macedonia, Article19: statement for the Media Law(s) (Skopje: Association of Journalists of Macedonia, 23 August 2013), http://www.znm.org.mk/drupal-7.7/en/node/671; and Katerina Blazhevska, “Тешко без закон, уште потешко со него” [It is hard without a law, but it will be even harder with it], Deutsche Welle, 10 April 2013, http://dw.de/p/18Crc.

[47] “Жерновски ја достави ревизијата за Скопје 2014 до обвинителството” [Zhernovski submitted the audit for Skopje 2014 to the Public Prosecution], Sitel TV, 16 August 2013, http://www.sitel.com.mk/mk/zhernovski-ja-dostavi-revizijata-za-skopje-2014-do-obvinitelstvoto.

[48] “Ревизија Скопје 2014: Колку споменици, толку незаконитости” [Skopje 2014 audit: How many monuments, that many irregularities], Telegraf.mk, 12 August 2013, http://www.telegraf.mk/aktuelno/makedonija/24923-revizija-skopje-2014-kolku-spomenici-tolku-nezakonitosti.

[49] Sead Rizvanovik, “Приведени паркобраните, центарот под полициска опсада” [Park defenders arrested, the centre under political siege], 24 News, 12 September 2013, http://24vesti.mk/privedeni-parkobranite-centarot-pod-policiska-opsada.

[50] “Инспекција ги проверува експресните вработувања на Жерновски” [Inspection is checking Zernovski’s instant employments], MK News, 16 May 2013, http://mkd-news.com/inspektsija-gi-proveruva-ekspresnite-vrabotuvanata-na-zhernovski.

[51] Sinisa Jakov Marusic, “Macedonian Protesters Lay Siege to Skopje City Hall,” Balkan Insight, 7 June 2013, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/protesters-keep-skopje-city-offi....

[52] Zorana Gadjovska Spasovska, “Жерновски – Да имавме поголемо мнозинство, ќе уапсеа повеќе советници” [Zernovski – If we had bigger majority, they would have arrested even more Counselors], RFE/RL, 10 October 2013, http://www.makdenes.org/content/article/25163410.html.

[53] European Commission, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2013 Progress Report, 11.

[54] Council of Europe, the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice, Evaluation of European Judicial Systems (Strasbourg: Council of Europe, 20 September 2012), http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/cooperation/cepej/evaluation/2012/Rapport_en.pdf.

[55] Marija Sevrieva, “Алармантно: Пренатрупани се одделенијата за притвор во затворите” [Alarming: the detention sections in prisons are overcrowded], Telegraf.mk, 29 October 2013, http://www.telegraf.mk/aktuelno/hronika/55612-alarmantno-prenatrupani-se-oddelenijata-za-pritvor-vo-zatvorite.

[56] Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia, “Пресудата за новинарот Томислав Кежаровски е сериозен преседан” [The verdict on the case of the journalist Tomislav Kezarovski is a serious precedent], http://okno.mk/node/32501.

[57] Milcho Veljanoski, “Вклучен е алармот дека нешто не функционира како што треба! – Павле Трајанов, предлагач на измените на Законот за заштита на сведоци” [The alarm that something is not functioning as it should be is on! – Pavle Trajanov, initiator of the draft amendments of the Law for witness protection], Akademik.mk, 12 November 2013, http://www.akademik.mk/pavle-trajanov-predlagach-na-izmenite-na-zakonot-za-zashtita-na-svedotsi-vkluchen-e-alarmot-deka-neshto-ne-fuktsionira-kako-shto-treba.

[58] “Трајанов се премисли – го повлече законот за заштита на сведоци” [Trajanov changed his mind – he withdraw the law for witness protection], Press 24, 21 November 2013, http://www.press24.mk/trajanov-se-premisli-go-povleche-zakonot-za-zashtita-na-svedoci.

[59] Miki Trajkovski, “Former Macedonian PM sentenced to three years in jail,” Southeast European Times, 18 July 2013, http://www.setimes.com/cocoon/setimes/xhtml/en_GB/features/setimes/features/2013/07/18/feature-03.

[60] Sinisa Jakov Marusic and Sase Dimovski, “Top Macedonian Archaeologist Held Over Artefacts Smuggling,”  Balkan Insight, 15 July 2013, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/macedonia-s-former-chief-excavator-arrested-for-artefacts-smuggling.

[61] Vesna Jovanovska Dojcinovska, “МВР апси без претходна консултација со државниот врв” [The Interior Ministry arrests without previous consultation with the State’s leadership], Telma, 22 July 2013, http://www.telma.com.mk/index.php?task=content&cat=&rub=6&item=29038.

[62]  Code of Criminal Procedure of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, 12 June 2013, http://legislationline.org/documents/action/popup/id/17955/preview.

[63] Gordana Duvnjak, “Обвинителите стануваат главни во истрагата” [The Public Prosecutors are becoming the main investigators], Utrinski Vesnik, 1 December 2013, http://www.utrinski.mk/?ItemID=034E1C8397044E459690AFFF7756057B.

[64] “Интегрално: Извештајот за напредокот на РМ во поглавјето за судството” [Integrally: The report for the progress of Republic of Macedonia in the chapter for Judicial system], Akademik.mk, 17 October 2013, http://www.akademik.mk/integralno-izveshtajot-za-napredokot-na-rm-vo-poglavjeto-za-sudstvoto.

[65] Gordana Duvnjak, “Судството повторно критикувано околу (не)зависноста” [Judiciary is criticized again over its (in)dependence], Utrinski Vesnik, 17 October 2013, http://www.utrinski.mk/?ItemID=BEEFD0892E995C43885EF3B5D061A8C1.

[66] Macedonian Information Agency (MIA), “Arnaudovska: Macedonia undertakes all reforms to enhance judiciary,” 9 November 2013, http://www.mia.mk/en/Inside/RenderSingleNews/382/111471366.

[67] TI, “Macedonia,” in Global Corruption Barometer (Berlin: TI, 2013), http://www.transparency.org/gcb2013/country/?country=macedonia_(fyr).

[68] Gjorgji Tomic, “Отчет: Скопје 2014 чини 207 милиони евра” [Report: Skopje 2014 costs 207 million Euros], Kanal 5, 22 April 2013, http://kanal5.com.mk/vesti_detail.asp?ID=5050.

[69] Sead Rizvanovikj, “Skopje 2014 - according to the NGOs - half a billion Euros, according to the Government - 207 million,” 24 Vesti, 7 May 2013, http://daily.mk/skopje-2014-za-nevladinite-polovina-milijarda-za-vlasta-207-milioni-evra?forward=2070990.

[70]Deana Kjuka, “Urban Renewal or Nationalist Kitsch? Skopje 2014 Stirs ControversyRFE/RL, 2 December 2013, http://www.rferl.org/content/skopje-kitsch-renewal-statues/25187521.html; and Sinisa Jakov Marusic, “Probe Claims Skopje 2014 Project Broke Law,” Balkan Insight, 13 August 2013, http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/probe-of-skopje-2014-revamp-reve....

[71] TI Macedonia, Second Report on the Factual Condition for Realisation of the Skopje 2014 Project Through Municipality Center (Berlin: TI, 2013), http://www.transparency.org.mk/en/images/stories/publications/report_sec....

[72] European Commission, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2013 Progress Report.

[73] Center for Civil Communications, Quarterly report on monitoring the implementation of public procurements in the Republic of Macedonia (Skopje:  Center for Civil Communications, August 2013), http://www.ccc.org.mk/images/stories/17_eng.pdf.

[74] “Македонија со добри оценки против корупцијата” [Macedonia with “good grades” for combating corruption], Nova Makedonija, 17 May 2013, http://www.novamakedonija.com.mk/DetalNewsInstant.asp?vestInstant=18525.

[75] “Bribery rate drops in Macedonia,” MIA, 9 July 2013, http://www.mia.mk/en/Inside/RenderSingleNews/212/107652158.

[76] TI Macedonia, “Citizens do not report corruption,” news release, 2 May 2013, http://www.transparency.org.mk/en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=498&Itemid=30.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Regional Anti-Corruption Initiative, “USAID launches Macedonia Anti-Corruption Program,” news release, 18 September 2013, http://www.rai-see.org/news/south-eastern-europe/4030-usaid-launches-macedonia-anti-corruption-program.html.