The Republic of North Macedonia (hereinafter North Macedonia), a land-locked, multi-
ethnic country in south-eastern Europe, d eclared its independence in 1991, following the
dissolution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It became a European Union
candidate country in 2005 with a recommendation to open negotiations from 2009 and has
been invited to join the North -Atlantic Treaty Organization. Both these processes are a
foreign affairs priority for th e country, but have stalled, initially due to the name dispute1
with Greece. As noted in several European Commission progress reports,2 this was
compounded by fundam ental rule of law issue s. The government appointed in June 2017
continued the work of the working group regarding the drafting of a new Law on Prevention
and Protection against Discrimination (Anti-Discrimination Law, ADL). This law was
adopted in May 2019.3 Official domestic priorities remain the implementation4 of the Ohrid
Framework Agreement (OFA),5 lowering unemployment rat es6 and the fight against
The country’s population is just over two million.8 Ethnic affiliation is important, as sets of
rights and positive action measures are tied to the numerical representation of each ethnic
community in the total population . The ethnic composition9 is 64 % ethnic Macedonians,
25 % ethnic Albanians, 4 % ethnic Turks, 3 % ethnic Roma, 2 % ethnic Serbs, 1 % ethnic
Bosniaks, 0.5 % ethnic Vlachs and 1 а ‘others’ гa term used in the Constitutionд.
Numerous activities to promote the rights o f Roma people h ave been undertaken but,
except in relation to political participation,10 results remain que stionable.
Regarding cooperation with civil society organisations (CSOs), following the appointment
of the new Government in June 2017, the climate rapidly changed from one of scapegoating
and openly prosecuting CSOs, which was the case during the Gruevski Government, to one
that is much more open to including CSOs in decision-making processes and working
groups and in stepping up to support CSO activities, including on equality and non-
discrimination. In 2019, CSOs contested the blockade in the Parliament regarding the
adoption of the ADL.11 Activists and allies claimed th at the reason why the law was being
blocked in Parliament was a letter which the MPs received from the tw o largest religious
1 On the name dispute, please see the introduction to the 2018 report or older.
2 European Commission (2019), North Macedonia 2019 Report, available at:
3 Law on prevention and protection against discrimination (
), Official Gazette of the Republic of North Macedonia No. 101/2019.
4 Although it is not the OFA itself that is being implemented, but constitutional, legal provisions and strategic
documents that resulted from its signingз the expression ‘implementation of the OFA’ is used for reasons of
5 Signed in view of ending the 2001 armed conflict, the OFA aims to advance the position of minority ethnic
communities and to preserve and reflect the multi-ethnic character of the country in public life, including
through actions to promote non-discrimination and equitable representation.
6 According to the State Statistical Office, the unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2019 was 17.1 % of
the active population, while 47.4 % are employed.
7 The Laeken indicator of poverty for 2018 (last available statistic) is 21.9 %.
8 Although not supported by official figures, estimates show that 250 000 to 500 000 people have left the
country in the past few years to work abroad.
9 All figures presented here are rounded percentages from the 2002 census, which is still the most recent
one. A new census was scheduled for 2011, but it was cancelled due to lack of clarity around the
implementation of the methodology. A new census was planned for April 2020, however it was postponed
because of pre-term elections (due to take place in April 2020). The new census will take place in either
autumn 2020 or spring 2021. All statistics from the State Statistical Office can be found at:
10 There is a Roma minister in the Government, with a portfolio on Roma rights, a Roma municipality (Shuto
Orizari) and Roma MPs. In addition, the principle of just and equitable representation, implemented
pursuant to the Ohrid Framework Agreement, also applies to Roma.
11 Flash report ‘The proposed new law on anti-discrimination blocked in Parliament’ гом.лм.нлмфдз available at: