THE PROJECT “MACEDONIA”
During the General Assembly of AEREC, Dr. Giancarlo
Simonetti, President of the Macedonian Chamber of Commerce
presented an important collaboration between the Academy and
the Macedonian Chamber of Commerce. The following is a
transcript of his speech.
of all, I think it is necessary to give you a geographical
and political profile of the country. In 1991, with the
passing of a popular referendum, Macedonia became a
parliamentary democratic Republic which established its
independence from ex-Yugoslavia. The population is just a
little over 2 million and the land mass is 25 thousand
square kilometres. The ethnic makeup is 70% Macedonian and
25% Albanian (the rest includes, among others, Turkish
ethnics and the Rom).
Politically, it is governed by a three-party system
which can be compared with our social democracy and the
opposition has obtained 22% of the votes. It is divided
into confederated regions following the American model.
Culturally, it is nearer to Europe than to the Orient
countries. For this reason, there is a rising interest in
the Macedonian economy on behalf of countries such as
Italy. Recently, on 19 April 2001, Macedonia was the first
nation of south-east Europe to sign the Agreement of
Stabilization and Association with the European Union in
consideration of its future entry into the EU.
On account of its strategic position between the
Occident and the Middle East, Macedonia has an important
geopolitical role which will increase in the coming years.
Of course, first it must complete the process of economic
stability which is very complex and will necessitate
additional sacrifices from an already extremely poor
population. Please remember, while Milosevic was in the
process of conceding its independence about ten years ago,
he allowed the economy to falter and, consequently,
the economy turned mainly towards agriculture.
One of the most important projects for our country,
is to recreate and make functional the industrial sector
which is in a very bad situation. Macedonia receives
important economic aid from Greece, with which it is united
by ethnic and cultural similarities, and from Bulgaria.
Italy imports various products from Macedonia. However, the
goods arrive from Greece or other countries because
Macedonia’s packaging and confectioning standards do not
meet EEC regulations on account of its economic problems.
Macedonia does not have diplomatic representation in
Italy because it simply cannot afford it. In order to give
you an idea of the economic situation… A Director of
Surgery earns a sum that corresponds to Italian £ire 800.000
(Euro 414.00). And the salary of a government minister is
not more than Italian
£ire 4.000.000 (Euro 2,066.00).
Therefore, the country is not in a position to establish
embassies and has to be supported by other organizations.
In the case of Italy, the only existing initiative is
the Macedonian Chamber of Commerce which fosters synergies
and promotes cultural exchange. This is the point:
operating in Macedonia today can be very stimulating and
fruitful for Italian entrepreneurs and professionals. It is
enough to consider the very advantageous tax and duty
environment. In addition, the country is free of negative
manifestations which nowadays are typical of the more
developed countries. And it is possible to acquire funds
for initial capitalization; the Italian government finances
small to medium projects in the country and the European
Financing Bank supports economically larger projects.
In order to be more concrete: in one particular
region, there is actually about 8000 square meters of land
we can obtain gratis for development. The State land, quite
everywhere, is ceded at the moment for 1 German Mark per 1
square meter with parcels of 1000 square meters.
The Macedonian Chamber of Commerce, headquartered in
Monza, signed an agreement with AEREC to permit commencement
of activities in the country. The agreement provides for
active collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in
a series of facilitations in establishing contacts,
assistance in possible agreements with local operators, and
all information necessary to logistics.
In January, there will be a meeting of the Academics
to discuss eventual projects. Immediately following the
meeting, a delegation of AEREC will go to Macedonia where
they will be received by the Macedonian Prime Minister. In
this way they can see the local reality and the
possibilities the country offers. To be precise, we have
only one year to take advantage of the resources we have at
our disposal. Because afterwards, other organizations and
more potent forces will arrive and hence the precious
opportunities of today will not be so easily obtainable.
Let us act with Italy and AEREC at the head and put
ourselves in a leading position in a young dynamic country
with very favourable prospects.”