France and North Macedonia
France and North Macedonia enjoy a good, steady bilateral political relationship, with the June 2021 meeting between the President of the French Republic and the North Macedonian Prime Minister providing further positive momentum.
France played a key role in the 2001 crisis by helping negotiate the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which brought an end to the inter-community clashes (between Slavic Macedonians and Albanians), with two Special Representatives of the European Union, Mr François Léotard and then Mr Alain Le Roy.
France supports the European prospects of North Macedonia and publicly supported the implementation of the Prespa Agreement on several occasions in 2018 and 2019, including via a video message from the President of the French Republic on 22 September 2018. During Zoran Zaev’s visit in June 2021, the President of the French Republic reiterated the “historic” nature of the agreement and the “great political courage” which had been necessary to achieve it.
On 15 and 16 November 2022, the Minister of State for Europe, Laurence Boone, travelled to Albania and North Macedonia, where she met Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski and President Stevo Pendarovski.
French community: 243 on the register of French people living abroad
North Macedonian community in France: 3,343 people (2015)
French Ambassador to North Macedonia: Cyrille Baumgartner @FranceMacedoine
Ambassador of North Macedonia to France: appointment pending @MKambFrance
- 15-16 November 2022: visit to Skopje by the Minister of State for Europe, Laurence Boone;
- 29-30 June 2022: meeting in Madrid between the President of the French Republic and Prime Minister Kovačevski;
- 18 May 2022 and 6 June 2022: telephone conversations between the President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister of North Macedonia, Dimitar Kovačevski
- 17 March 2022: telephone conversation between Jean-Yves Le Drian and his counterpart Mr Bujar Osmani;
- 2 February 2022: meeting between Bojan Maričić, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs, Bujar Osmani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs;
- 10 June 2021: telephone conversation between the President of the French Republic Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev;
- 23 February 2021: meeting in Paris between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Bujar Osmani, Minister of Foreign Affairs;
- 27 October 2020: meeting between Nikola Dimitrov, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of European Affairs, and Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs;
- 13 February 2020: meeting in Paris between Bujar Osmani, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov, Foreign Minister, and Amélie de Monchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs;
- 20 November 2019: meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, alongside the NATO Ministerial Meeting in Brussels.
- 12 November 2019: meeting between the President of the French Republic and Stevo Pendarovski, President of the Republic of North Macedonia, alongside the Paris Peace Forum
- 9 September 2019: visit to Paris by Nikola Dimitrov – meeting with Amélie de Monchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs;
- 5 July 2019: meeting between Zoran Zaev and the Prime Minister alongside the Poznań Summit;
- 6 June 2019: meeting between Bujar Osmani, Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs and Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, with Amélie de Monchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs;
- visit to North Macedonia on 26 February 2019 by the Minister for European Affairs, Ms Nathalie Loiseau
Although modest, bilateral economic relations between France and North Macedonia are progressing. Since 2012, trade between France and North Macedonia has grown steadily, with a trade surplus for France. Trade does, however, remain limited (€190.5 million in 2019, €168 million in 2020, but over €200 million in 2021). France accounts for less than 2% of North Macedonia’s imports, compared to 15.4% for the UK and 10.7% for Germany. French exports to North Macedonia were €88.3 million in 2021 and French imports stood at €122.6 million.
There are prospects for major contracts for which companies have positioned themselves: a waste water treatment plant, renewing ID documents, building a hospital in Skopje, projects linked to sustainable development and infrastructure. The AFD is reviewing the conditions of its work in North Macedonia.
The agreement focuses on three priorities: strengthening the rule of law and support for good governance, training of elites, and support for French language and culture, with the aim of supporting the Republic of North Macedonia as it builds closer links to the European Union. Cultural and linguistic action is based on the Institut Français in Skopje (opened in 1974) and the Alliance Française branches in Bitola and Tetovo.
Three French towns are twinned with towns in North Macedonia: Epinal with Bitola (1968), and Dijon (1961) and Roubaix (1973) with Skopje. A major decentralized cooperation programme was implemented with the Lower Normandy region, enabling 11 direct twinning programmes to be set up between towns and cities. To this end, extensive work in remembrance of the Eastern Front was also initiated.
Like all Western Balkan countries, the Republic of North Macedonia has prospects of EU accession, which were raised at the Zagreb Summit in November 2000 under the French Presidency of the European Union and then confirmed at the Thessaloniki Summit in 2003 and Sofia Summit in 2018. In 2001, it signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union before acquiring candidate country status in December 2005.
From 2009, the opening of accession negotiations between North Macedonia and the EU stalled due to a dispute between Athens and Skopje. The conclusions adopted by the General Affairs Council of 26 June 2018 acknowledged the progress made by North Macedonia on the path to European integration, and encouraged it to continue its work to meet all the criteria laid down by the Council.
On 25 March 2020, the Council decided to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia (and Albania) and to adopt the Commission’s proposal of a new methodology for accession to the European Union. This reform significantly revised the methodology of accession negotiations by making the process more efficient, providing concrete benefits via a more gradual integration of candidate countries, and drawing on a stronger political steer. The negotiation frameworks with North Macedonia and Albania incorporate this new methodology.
The First Intergovernmental Conference between North Macedonia and the European Union took place on 19 July 2022.