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In 2015 the National Council for Cultural Heritage was constituted within the Ministry of Culture.

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FYR of Macedonia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies

The Law for Protection of Cultural Heritage (2004) defines public services in this field and all available legal mechanisms to ensure the protection of cultural monuments. Cultural heritage may be publicly or privately owned and may be exported only in exceptional cases with permission from the Minister of Culture.

Private owners have an obligation to care and maintain cultural heritage and property and to provide access to them for scientific and cultural research purposes and in some cases to provide access to the general public. Under certain conditions the owner has the right to receive compensation from the Ministry for some maintenance costs.

In 2007, the Law for Protection of Cultural Heritage was amended, in order to harmonise it with EU legislation and standards. Bigger changes were made in the procedure of restitution of cultural heritage goods, the measures for getting permission for archaeological excavations, some of the control measures etc.

In 2004, the Ministry of Culture established a new Cultural Heritage Protection Office (CHPO) as a constituent part of the Ministry, operating as a legal entity.

Organisational structure CHPO:

There is special legislation on the protection of archival material and its handling, librarianship, and the preservation of films and film material of historic, artistic and other cultural significance.


There are two recent major issues for heritage policies:

  • revalorisation and digitisation of heritage assets, run by the new Cultural Heritage Protection Office and assisted by funds from the World Bank; and
  • illegal archaeological excavations and illicit traffic of cultural heritage, a problem that is constantly in the media (local and even international) which, daily, reveal new cases of stolen goods and illicit trafficking.

Digitisation of cultural heritage seems to have been a priority in 2007 on both levels, national and local. The previous funds donated by the Italian government and the UNESCO donation in 2007 for the Regional Centre for Digitisation of Cultural Heritage (established at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Skopje) pushed the process of digitisation of cultural heritage at the national level. The Centre was opened in March 2008, but so far without any public knowledge about its work.

Cultural heritage protection and archaeological excavations have been the government's top priority in the past several years. The budget for archaeological excavations, especially in 2006-2009, tripled compared to the years before, but is declining in recent years.

Table 1:    CHPO – 2010 - 2013 budget (in MKD)

Cultural Heritage Protection Office




Salaries, goods, services etc.

96 585 000

153 461 000


Skopje fortress

66 000 000

22 000 000


St. Clement's University (Ohrid)

20 000 000

45 000 000


Archaeological sites

90 850 000

25 000 000



270 000

2 000 000


Total in MKD

273 715 000

247 461 000

237 918 000*

Total in EUR

4 487 131

4 056 737

3 900 295

Source:    Official Gazette of RM, no.180 / 2011.
*              Ministry of Finance, Budget 2013

In July 2013 the director of the Cultural Heritage Protection Office and the chief inspector for protection of cultural heritage were arrested as part of the so called "Falanga 2" process for issuing permits for illegal archaeological excavations and helping to illicit trafficking. In June 2014 the director was sentenced to three years in prison, and the chief inspector to five years.

In 2013 the CHPO established a National Information System for Cultural Heritage. This portal provided an overview of the immovable, movable and intangible cultural heritage of the Republic of Macedonia. Its purpose was to present data about heritage to the general public. The portal is no longer functioning.

In 2013 the CHPO published a List of Protected Immovable Cultural Heritage.

In 2015 the (second) National Council for Cultural Heritage was constituted within the Ministry of Culture. It consists of 11 members and the president of the Council is the Minister of Culture. The Council's basic remits are: to consider general questions connected to the protection of cultural heritage and to propose adequate measures; to propose the national strategy for protection of cultural heritage; to propose the action plan for prevention of criminal acts against the cultural heritage; to propose priority list of cultural heritage damaged in war conflicts or natural disasters, etc.   

One of the biggest new scandals with the CHPO in 2015 was the announcement that the new buildings and monuments built in the past few years as part of the notorious projects for "Skopje 2014" will be listed as protected immovable cultural heritage. Neither the Ministry of Culture nor the Government commented on this issue.

For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile FYR of Macedonia

Chapter published: 06-10-2015

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