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History of the Republic of Macedonia

This article is about the History of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. For history of the whole Macedonian region, see Macedonia.

After the First Balkan War of 1912-13, Vardar Macedonia was made part of Serbia as Vardarska banovina and subsequently the Yugoslav kingdom. In 1946, the "Province of Vardar" (Vardarska banovina) was given status as an independent "Yugoslav Socialist People's Republic of Macedonia" in the new Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

On September 17, 1991, the Macedonian republic declared independence from Yugoslavia as the Republic of Macedonia. However, international recognition of the new country was delayed by Greece's objection to the use of what it considered a Hellenic name and symbols. To compromise, the United Nations recognised the state under the name of "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM). Greece finally lifted its trade blockade in 1995, and the two countries agreed to normalize relations.

During the Kosovo War of 1999, FYROM co-operated with NATO, but managed to stay out of the conflict. Some 360,000 Albanian refugees from Kosovo entered FYROM during the war, threatening to disrupt the balance between the Slav and Albanian ethnic groups in the country. Many later returned to Kosovo, but ethnic tensions grew.

In the spring of 2001, Albanian rebels calling themselves the National Liberation Army (probably made up of former KLA members) took up arms in the west of FYROM, demanding that the constitution be rewritten to grant Albanians equal rights. The guerillas received support from Albanians in NATO-controlled Kosovo and the UCPMB guerilla in the demilitarized zone between Kosovo and the rest of Serbia. The fighting was concentrated in and around Tetovo, the second largest city in FYROM. After a joint NATO-Serb crackdown on UCPMB and NLA supporters in Kosovo, EU officials were able to negotiate a cease-fire in June. The government would give ethnic Albanians greater civil rights, and the guerilla groups would voluntarily relinquish their weapons to NATO monitors. This agreement was a success, and in August 3500 NATO soldiers conducted "Operations Essential Harvest" to retrieve the arms. Directly after the operation finished in September, the NLA officially dissolved itself.

See also: Republic of Macedonia