Tallinn, Stenbock House, 7 December 2006 – At the meeting between Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia Antonio Milošoski, relations between the two countries, and Macedonia’s efforts to join the European Union and NATO, were discussed.
According to Andrus Ansip, the bilateral relations between Estonia and Macedonia have developed considerably during recent years, and cooperation is taking place between several agencies.
The Prime Minister confirmed to Antonio Milošoski that Estonia is in favour of the further enlargement of the European Union and considers it necessary that the defence alliance continues its open door policy. “We support Macedonia’s efforts to join the EU and NATO. At the same time, it is vital that Macedonia continues doing its homework in this area and consistently carries out reforms,” Ansip said.
The Prime Minister was pleased over Macedonia’s progress, which brought the country the status of an EU candidate country last year.
According to Antonio Milošoski, Macedonia received a strong and encouraging message about the further enlargement of the alliance at the NATO Riga summit. “Similarly to Estonia, Macedonia contributes to controlling international crisis areas with its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Milošoski said. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia, almost 90 percent of the country’s population is in favour of joining NATO and the EU.
Issues regarding economic cooperation were also discussed at the meeting. Both Prime Minister Ansip and Minister of Foreign Affairs Milošoski admitted that a lot could be done to introduce our countries to each other. What needs improving is the body of agreements regulating the economic relations between the two countries.
According to Milošoski, Macedonia has set itself the goal of becoming the tiger economy of the Western Balkans. “To this end, a proportional income tax system has been placed into use in the country. Currently the income tax rate is 12 percent, which will decrease to 10 percent in 2010,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs said.
Other taxes, too, will be kept as low as possible in Macedonia. To attract foreign investment into the country, five free economy zones have been created where a 5-8-year exemption from income tax has been established for enterprises. The economic growth in Macedonia this year is estimated to be four percent.
Economic relations between Estonia and Macedonia are modest. As of last year, basic trade turnover with Macedonia was 89 thousand euros, of which export comprised three quarters or 66 thousand euros, and import 22 thousand euros. In the ranking of countries to which Estonia exports, Macedonia is in 112th place; in the list of countries sending imports it is in 98th place.