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FYR of Macedonia/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.4 Cultural diversity and inclusion policies

Officially recognised ethnic (cultural) minorities are those mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution: Albanians, Turks, Roma, Serbs, Bosnians and Vlachs.

According to the latest census of 2002, the total population was 2 022 547 of which 64.18% are Macedonians (1 297 981). The rest of the population is made up of:

Table 2:    Share of ethnic minority groups, 2002

Ethnic minority groups

Total number

% share of total population


509 083



77 959



53 879



35 939



17 018



9 695



20 993


Source:    State Statistical Office.

In 2006, there was an official demand made by Croatia to recognise the Croatian ethnic minority as a Constitutional minority, but this demand was not accepted by the Macedonian government.

These minority groups have the constitutional right to freely express, nurture and develop their own cultural, religious, and linguistic identity and national features. The Ministry of Culture pays great attention to this, particularly in the decision-making process about projects submitted in open competitions, and in the creation of the yearly cultural programmes.

Following the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement of 13.08.2001, the following amendments have been made to the Constitution for the different cultural communities:

  • in units of local self-government, where at least 20% of the population speak a particular language, that language and its alphabet will be used as an official language, in addition to the Macedonian language and its Cyrillic alphabet; and
  • laws that directly concern culture, the use of languages, education, etc., are to be passed by a majority vote in the Assembly. In this regard, there must be a majority of votes from those members of parliament who claim to belong to the communities that are not part of a majority population.

The new Census that started in October 2011 was interrupted and then completely cancelled after only 4 days. It started with the resignation of the president of the State Census Commission, and very soon with the resignation of the whole Commission because of some differences in the legislative interpretation and serious disagreements about the methodology for conducting the census on the field (especially in areas with ethnically mixed populations), which would have resulted in incorrect data. Government officials stated that there were technical problems and lack of preparedness for this large statistical operation to be finished in 15 days. It was planned that a new Census would be organised within 6 to 12 months.  

What concerns other social groups and communities, unofficially, is that there is a gay community that consists of nearly 30-40 000 people, but it has never been officially recognised. On the other hand, the gay community has recently been the subject of vigorous public polemics over whether people with "different" sexual orientation should be included in the new Law on Protection and Prevention of Discrimination, the Law on Family etc. The government refuses to mention this group in the laws.

The Law for Protection and Prevention Against Discrimination was adopted in January 2011, without explicitly mentioning sexual orientation. U.S. State Department stated in its 2012 report that in Macedonia there is social prejudice towards members of the LGBT community, who were exposed to harassment and demeaning language in the media.

In 2013 the Network for Prevention of Discrimination (founded in 2010 by a number of NGO's and citizens' associations) published an open letter to members of the Parliament asking them to demand additional detailed information on the 2013 Report of the Parliamentary Commission for Prevention of Discrimination. The open letter said that the report had no educational points, did not establish causes for certain kind of discrimination, nor affirmed measures to overcome the situation.

In September 2013 the Macedonian ruling party in the Parliament raised the question of changing the Constitution in order to re-define marriage as a community between a man and a woman and that a child can be adopted only in that kind of marriage. The Parliament did not support the initiative. But the new Parliament (April 2014), without the participation of the opposition parties, supported the initiative to change the Constitution not only in redefining marriage but also in several other points.

In August 2014 the vice-Prime Minister for implementation of the Ohrid Agreement stated that it is high time that 1 200 persons employed on the grounds of the Ohrid Agreement, who receive monthly salaries but stayed at home, finally get a real job.

Through 18 videos in 2015, the government launched a campaign for inter-ethnic and religious coexistence.

Chapter published: 06-10-2015

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