In March of 2020, North Macedonia reached two historic milestones. Following resolution of the 27-year name dispute with Greece, the EU approved the opening of accession negotiations with North Macedonia. Simultaneously, the country became the 30th member of NATO. While these are energizing developments, they occur against a backdrop of modest economic growth and continued concerns about cronyism, politicization, and corruption, as well as the harsh fallout from the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic and youth emigration. The United States recognizes the next period as critical to the country’s future as a prosperous ally that contributes to regional stability.
INCREASING ECONOMIC COMPETITIVNESS
To promote prosperity, we are partnering with the government and private sector to promote growth in productivity and reduce barriers to expansion into Euro-Atlantic markets. Activities include helping transform the competitiveness of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by strengthening business services, finance, and market linkages to catalyze a significant increase in MSME growth, productivity, and employment. USAID is leveraging private sector resource partnerships that facilitate investment, aiming to accelerate enterprise-driven development, especially for expansion into high-yield, high-tech production. We are enabling lead firms to invest in the development of supply chains and labor forces. We are also strengthening domestic revenue mobilization, helping to attract private investment from a wide array of sources, and promoting effective, transparent, and accountable expenditure of those resources. USAID is also working to advance energy security and renewable energy sources in the country. We are assisting the Government of North Macedonia to comply with EU energy policies and regulations, helping to draft and adopt energy legislation for compliance and alignment with EU requirements, as well as legislation that provides the framework for an open, transparent, and vibrant energy market, which will enable energy investments.
INCREASING YOUTH OPPORTUNITIES
Guided by the principles that youth are a critical asset and a crucial partner, USAID is working to increase opportunities for youth as well as their contributions to society—they must have a seat at the table and their voices must be heard. We are bringing together an array of stakeholders, including youth and youth groups, to foster youth participation in public life, promote their critical thinking skills, and build their resilience to disinformation campaigns. Activities include empowering young people as leaders for community-level activities and building their partnerships with institutions, businesses, and academia. We are also promoting the development of enterprise-driven solutions to expand economic opportunities for youth and ensure they are better prepared with the skills needed for jobs available here in-country. In addition, USAID is working to improve relationships among children and youth across ethnic, religious, and social lines by helping to introduce new, contemporary civic education curricula, and providing training to educators to advance intercultural education in kindergartens and primary schools. Activities include partnering with school communities to promote positive interactions among youth of various backgrounds, empowering youth to be leaders of change and to promote values of tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
Corruption is one of the biggest challenges the country faces, as it undermines governance, sabotages economic competitiveness, and subverts youth opportunities for the future. USAID supports Government of North Macedonia efforts to reduce corruption and increase government effectiveness, accountability, and transparency. Activities include promoting meaningful reforms to improve public services, advance good governance, ensure the credibility of elections administration, and expand the ability of municipalities to plan, manage and implement their budgets with a variety of revenue sources. Moreover, USAID is expanding the accountability of citizens to increase their actions to counter corruption and their demand for transparency and accountability. Activities include fostering constructive engagement by civil society organizations and empowering them to take leadership roles in the development and implementation of national strategies, policies, and social issues.