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A Guide to Online Research Resources for the Macedonian Legal System

 

By Nic Angelov

 

Nic Angelov is a barrister practicing in Sydney, Australia.

 

Published October 2008
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Table of Contents

 

1. Background

2. Constitution

3. Government

4. President

5. Legislature

6. Ministers

7. Judiciary

8. Online Resources

9. Government information

10. Legislation

11. Courts and Judgments

12. Tribunals and Regulatory Bodies

13. Lawyers’ Professional Associations

14. Legal Education

15. General Research Resources

16. Human Rights

16.1. Macedonia

16.2. Neighboring Countries

17. Selected NGOs

18. Newspapers

19. Think Tanks

 

 

1. Background

 

For hundreds of years up until 1912, the historical region of Macedonia - located on the Balkan Peninsula in South-Eastern Europe - was part of the Ottoman Empire. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, various Macedonian groups took up arms to create an independent Macedonia out of the crumbling Ottoman Empire, without success. After the Balkan wars of 1912-1913, Macedonia was divided between Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria.

 

The country that is today known as the Republic of Macedonia traces its modern history from that part of Macedonia that was incorporated into Serbia after the Balkan Wars. It was assimilated into Serbia proper and no special rights or autonomy was granted to the Macedonians (the same applied to those parts incorporated into Greece and Bulgaria). The situation remained unchanged when, after WWI, Serbia expanded into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later changing its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929).

 

After WWII, the communists came to power and a new socialist Yugoslavia (initially called the People’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, later called the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) was created as a federation with its constituent states being organized along ethnic lines (those states being respectively: the Socialist Republics of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia).

 

With the break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, what was known as the Socialist Republic of Macedonia held a referendum and declared its independence as the Republic of Macedonia in September 1991. It has been a functioning multi-party parliamentary democracy since that time and is an aspiring member of NATO and the EU. It became a member of the UN in 1993.

 

The Republic of Macedonia is a country of 2 million people. According to the 2002 census, approximately 65 % of the populations are ethnic Macedonians. Ethnic Albanians account for 25% of the population, mostly located in the west of the country. The remaining significant minority groups include ethnic Turks, Roma, Serbs and Vlachs. The official language is Macedonian, although minority languages are accorded official status in areas where speakers constitute at least 20% of the population.

 

2. The Constitution

 

The Macedonian constitution was promulgated in 1991 after Macedonia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Amendments were made in 1995, following the Interim Accord with neighboring Greece and in 2001, following the Framework Agreement between ethnic Macedonian and Albanian political parties. In 2005, amendments were introduced that brought major reform to the judicial system.

 

It provides for a parliamentary system of government with sovereignty deriving from the citizens and a separation of powers between executive, legislative and judicial branches. It guarantees basic rights and freedoms.

 

The constitution can be amended by a two-thirds majority of the Assembly. Constitutional amendments may be proposed by the President, the government, at least 30 members of the Assembly or directly by citizens (at least 150,000 signatures are required).

 

3. Government

 

The Republic of Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy. As with the rest of continental Europe, it has a civil law legal system as opposed to the common law of England and other Anglophone countries. The civil law developed out of the Roman law of Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis. As an interesting aside, the father of civil law has a link to Macedonia. Justinian was born in Tauresium, a location near Skopje - the capital city of the Republic of Macedonia.

 

4. The President

 

The President is the head of state. He or she is directly elected by a vote of the citizens. Presidential elections are held every 5 years. The president cannot serve more than two terms. Some executive power resides in the President. He or she appoints the Prime Minister and is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, among other duties.

 

5. The Legislature

 

Macedonia has a unicameral parliament called the Assembly (Sobranie). It exercises legislative power and is the representative body of the citizens. Its members are called representatives. Representatives are elected by popular vote at elections every four years. The Assembly chooses the government and enacts laws. The government is formed by the political party with the majority of elected representatives in the Assembly.

 

6. Ministers

 

Executive power in the main is in the hands of the Prime Minister and his or her ministers. They cannot be members of the Assembly.

 

7. Judiciary

 

Judicial power is vested in courts that are autonomous and independent.

 

The 1995 Law on Courts established a three tiered court system. There are 27 Courts of First Instance (also called Basic Courts). There are three Courts of Appeal (located at Skopje, Bitola and Stip) that deal with appeals from the Basic Courts. At the apex is the Supreme Court.

 

There is also a Constitutional Court, responsible for the protection of constitutional and legal rights. It resolves any conflict between the three branches of government. Upon a referral by a two-thirds vote of the Assembly, it may decide whether the President has violated the Constitution or his powers and remove him from office.

 

8. Online Resources

 

Note

 

Almost all online resources are available in Macedonian and English. Sometimes the English version of the website does not offer the full range of services offered by the Macedonian language version. Generally I have not listed websites here unless they have an English language version available.

 

9. Government Information

 

Government

 

Assembly

 

Ministry of Justice

 

Secretariat for European Integration

 

Ombudsman

 

Government Gazette

 

Human Rights

 

Public Prosecutor’s Office

 

Public Defender

Macedonian language only.

 

Elections Data

Macedonian language only.

 

Freedom of Information Commission, or http://www.inf.gov.mk

 

Securities and Exchange Commission

 

State Statistical Office

 

10. Legislation

 

Macedonian state legislation is available in Macedonian and English for free at Macedonian Legal Resource Centre.

 

Often legislation on a specific topic can be found on the relevant government agency website that deals with that topic. For example, laws on securities or takeovers can be found at the Securities and Exchange Commission website.

 

Government Gazette

 

Database of Macedonian Laws  

Macedonian language only. Legislation from 1992 in pdf format. Registration (free) required.

 

11. Courts and Judgments

 

Leading constitutional court decisions can be found at the Constitutional court website.

 

Constitutional Court

 

Supreme Court

Macedonian language only

 

Basic Courts

Macedonian Language only

 

Academy for Training of Judges and Prosecutors

 

Law on Enforcement

 

Basic Court – Stip

Macedonian language only

 

Basic Court – Kavadarci

Macedonian language only

 

12. Tribunals and Regulatory bodies

 

Competition Protection Commission, or http://www.kzk.gov.mk

 

Broadcasting Council  

 

Energy Regulatory Commission

 

Securities & Exchange Commission

 

Public Revenue Office  

 

13. Lawyers’ Professional Associations

 

Association des Etats Generaux des Etudiants de l’Europe – Skopje (European Students Forum – Skopje) (AEGEE)  

 

Association of Public Prosecutors  

 

Chambre des Notaires (Association of Notaries)

Macedonian language only.

 

European Law Students’ Association – Macedonia  

 

Macedonian Bar Association

Macedonian language only.

 

Macedonian Judges Association

 

Macedonian Lawyers Association

 

Macedonian Young Lawyers Association

 

Web Directory of Lawyers in Macedonia  

 

14. Legal Education

 

Faculty of Law “Iustinianus Primus”, University of Sts Cyril and Methodius

 

Faculty of Law, South-East Europe University

 

15. General Research Resources

 

Legal Resources on Macedonia at Jurist Legal Intelligence (University of Pittsburgh School of Law)

 

Macedonian Legal Resource Centre

 

National and University Library “St Kliment Ohridski”

 

National Archives

 

Treaties (historical) and Legal Cases  

 

16. Human Rights

 

16.1. Macedonia

 

Helsinki Committee – Macedonia

 

Human Rights Support Project

 

Children’s Rights

 

16.2. Neighboring Countries

 

Rainbow – Political Party of Macedonian Minority in Greece

 

OMO Ilinden Pirin – Democratic Movement for Human and Minority Rights in Bulgaria

 

Macedonians in Albania – Macedonian Alliance for European Integration  

 

17. Selected NGOs

 

Macedonian Court Modernization Project

 

All for Fair Trials Coalition

 

Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation

 

Good Governance

Macedonian language only

 

Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Macedonian

 

Metamorphosis

 

Anti-Corruption

 

Centre for Civic Initiative

 

Transparency International – Macedonia

 

Free Access to Information

 

Foundation Open Society Institute

 

Regional Environmental Centre – Macedonia

 

Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Equality of Women

Macedonian language only.

 

18. Newspapers

 

Denes (Today)

 

Dnevnik (Daily)

 

Nova Makedonija (New Macedonia)

 

Utrinski Vesnik (Morning Herald)

 

Vecer (Evening)

 

19. Think Tanks

 

Centre for Economic Analysis