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Yugoslavia Table of Contents



Next to Kosovo, Macedonia was the most economically deprived region of Yugoslavia. Like Kosovo, it was dependent on the richer republics for financial support throughout the postwar period. For the first forty years after World War II, political life remained placid and under the firm control of the local party. But with the explosion of nationalist feeling elsewhere in Yugoslavia in the late 1980s, the presence of substantial Albanian and Turkish minorities began to complicate regional politics. Strikes and protests against economic conditions began in 1987. After that time, ethnic tensions mounted between Albanians and Macedonians, especially in the Albanian ghettos of Skopje, the capital city. Symbolic acts by Macedonian authorities worsened the situation. In 1989 the Macedonian assembly ratified a constitutional amendment deleting "Albanian and Turkish minorities" from the definition of the republic in the 1974 republican constitution. This move, which paralleled the Serbian constitutional limitation of autonomy in its provinces, drew criticism domestically and in other republics for its nationalist overtones. Macedonia also had a centuries-long ethnic dispute with neighboring Bulgaria and Greece over the identity and treatment of Macedonian minorities in those countries. This was the only such situation among the Yugoslav republics, and it added an independent quality to the cause of Macedonian nationalism.

As a small republic with voting power equal to all other republics, Macedonia was pressured and manipulated by both Serbia and Slovenia in the late 1980s. Consequently, its position in that conflict was inconsistent. During the late 1980s, Macedonian policy concentrated alternately on allegiance to Serbia and Macedonian nationalism, depending on which of two factions prevailed in the local political establishment. In 1990 the top Macedonian policymakers still strongly supported a united Yugoslavia and opposed legalization of rival parties. However, these policies were increasingly challenged by an independent political faction led by Vasil Tupurkovski, Macedonian representative to the Presidency of Yugoslavia. In 1990 Tupurkovski's faction moved toward formation of a separate party advocating political reform.

Data as of December 1990