UPDATE: 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 2011
Table of Contents
8.3. Courts and Judgments
8.3.1 Judicial Organisations
8.6. Legal Education
8.8. Human Rights
8.8. .1. Macedonia
8.8. .2. Neighboring Countries
8.9. Selected NGOs
8.11. Think Tanks
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. The capital city is Skopje (pronounced Skop-yeah). 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 north-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. The next census will be conducted in September 2011. A census is conducted approximately every decade.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 known as Primary Courts. There are four Courts of Appeal (located at Skopje, Bitola, Stip and Gostivar) that deal with appeals from the Primary Courts. At the apex is the Supreme Court. In 2006 a fourth tier was established with the creation of the Administrative Court and it commenced operating in 2007. It deals with administrative law matters and ranks below 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.
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.
A selection of relevant websites:
Public Defender (Macedonian language only.)
Chamber of Enforcement Agents (Macedonian only.)
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 administers that area of law. For example, laws on securities or takeovers can be found at the Securities and Exchange Commission website.
Macedonian language only. Legislation in pdf format. At the time of writing it has a database of 1246 Acts from 1973 onwards. Includes acts, regulations, reports and judgments (including European Court of Human Rights judgments in which the Republic of Macedonia was a defendant). Registration (free) required.
Leading constitutional court decisions can be found at the Constitutional court website. Judgments of all other courts can also be found at each court’s website.
Within the Court of Appeal Skopje jurisdiction: Primary Court Skopje 1 ; Primary Court Skopje 2 ; Primary Court Veles ; Primary Court Gevgelija; Primary Court Kavadarci ; Primary Court Kriva Palanka; Primary Court Kratovo ; Primary Court Kumanovo; Primary Court Negotino
Within the Court of Appeal Stip jurisdiction: Primary Court Berovo; Primary Court Vinica; Primary Court Delcevo; Primary Court Kocani; Primary Court Radovis ; Primary Court Sveti Nikole; Primary Court Strumica ; Primary Court Stip
Macedonian only. Persons giving an expert opinion or testifying in court as an expert are required to be licenced and are regulated by the Agency.
Macedonian Bar Association (Macedonian language only.)
"Advokat" Web Directory of Lawyers in Macedonia (Macedonian language only.)
Macedonian language only.
Commercial website. Paid subscription required for access. Electronic collection of laws in force.
National and University Library “St Kliment Ohridski” (Macedonian language only.)
European Free Alliance Rainbow – Political Party of Macedonian Minority in Greece
Good Governance (Macedonian language only)
Nova Makedonija (New Macedonia)
Utrinski Vesnik (Morning Herald)