Interview Zlatko Teodosievski (North Macedonia)
For the second interview of our series, we spoke to the Compendium’s expert author Zlatko Teodosievski (senior curator at the National Art Gallery in Skopje) about the cultural crises of North Macedonia and the effects of COVID-19 on the politically centralised system. We especially focused on the potential of artistic and cultural advocacy in influencing policies — why is this important and what parameters are needed for cultural and artistic voices to be heard in decision making processes?
Creative Industries Mapping: Macedonia
In January 2013 the British Council together with Lia Ghilardi conducted a scoping visit to the Macedonian capital of Skopje as part of a mentoring initiative aimed at assisting the country’s Ministry of Culture to develop a policy and framework for mapping and raising awareness of the potential of the creative economy in Macedonia. In the first instance, mentoring focused on helping the government to implement a Creative and Cultural Industries Taskforce. Later on, advice was given on methods for improving the entrepreneurial capacity of local cultural and creative enterprises, and on how to embed creativity in the local education and learning system.
growing upper middle-income European economy; EU accession stalled due to Bulgarian dispute; new NATO member; private consumption-driven growth; investment declined due to COVID-19; regional economic power gains since Greek naming resolution
Since its independence in 1991, Macedonia has made progress in liberalizing its economy and improving its business environment. Its low tax rates and free economic zones have helped to attract foreign investment, which is still low relative to the rest of Europe. Corruption and weak rule of law remain significant problems. Some businesses complain of opaque regulations and unequal enforcement of the law.
Macedonia’s economy is closely linked to Europe as a customer for exports and source of investment, and has suffered as a result of prolonged weakness in the euro zone. Unemployment has remained consistently high at about 23%, but may be overstated based on the existence of an extensive gray market, estimated to be between 20% and 45% of GDP, which is not captured by official statistics.
Macedonia is working to build a country-wide natural gas pipeline and distribution network. Currently, Macedonia receives its small natural gas supplies from Russia via Bulgaria. In 2016, Macedonia signed a memorandum of understanding with Greece to build an interconnector that could connect to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline that will traverse the region once complete, or to an LNG import terminal in Greece.
Macedonia maintained macroeconomic stability through the global financial crisis by conducting prudent monetary policy, which keeps the domestic currency pegged to the euro, and inflation at a low level. However, in the last two years, the internal political crisis has hampered economic performance, with GDP growth slowing in 2016 and 2017, and both domestic private and public investments declining. Fiscal policies were lax, with unproductive public expenditures, including subsidies and pension increases, and rising guarantees for the debt of state owned enterprises, and fiscal targets were consistently missed. In 2017, public debt stabilized at about 47% of GDP, still relatively low compared to its Western Balkan neighbors and the rest of Europe.