Long-lasting Partnership The Netherlands – Republic of Macedonia 1995 -2015 June 2015 General facts

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Long-lasting Partnership

The Netherlands – Republic of Macedonia

1995 -2015

June 2015
General facts

  • Тhe Netherlands has maintained a close relationship with Macedonia since its independence in the early 1990s, while a development co-operation programme with Macedonia has existed since 1994.

  • The Netherlands was the biggest EU member state donor in Macedonia until 2011 when Dutch official development assistance to Macedonia came to an end.

  • In the period 1999-2010, the Netherlands has provided Macedonia with grants to the amount of more than € 200 million, of which € 95 million has been macro-support.

  • Macedonia is a member of the Dutch constituency at the IMF, the World Bank and EBRD.

  • Macedonia has graduated from a development partner to an EU accession partner. Future partnership will focus on enhancing capacities and peer-to-peer cooperation, particularly in the field of Rule of Law.

Improvement of Good Governance…
More than € 5.5 million have been invested to improve good governance in Macedonia. Examples of activities include:

  • What have we contributed to?

    • Improved capacity of Macedonian municipalities in the fields of tax administration, HRM, education management and local economic development;

    • Improved capacity of ZELS and the ZELS Education Committee;

    • Increased social and infrastructural local development;

    • Improved rule of law, civic participation and improved elections

    • Improved media diversity and media literacy for the education curriculum

    Support to the decentralisation process through technical assistance as well as through a twinning (from 2005-2007) between the Macedonian Association of Municipalities ZELS and its Dutch counterpart VNG

  • Support to municipalities in their efforts to take up their new responsibilities in the field of education management (see also under education)

  • Community Development Project - contribution to a World Bank programme (2004-2006) aiming at the development of local communities via stimulations in socio-economic development in the areas of culture, supporting personal development of young community members from different backgrounds and (social) infrastructure, including projects such as Old Bazaar – Pillar for the Future

  • Improving Media Literacy Education in Macedonia (January 2009–July 2011) - enhancing knowledge and understanding among elementary and high school students for the role of the media in a democratic society by training 1100 teachers in media literacy and developing media literacy component for the education curriculum. Executers: European Journalism Centre (EJC)/ Macedonian Institute for Media (MIM). Financed from MATRA, with a budget of 438,600

  • Support to the programme of the Citizen Association MOST, including non-partisan election monitoring (2008-2014), with a budget of more than € 200,000


  • Support to freedom of expression and media diversity via support to five media related projects with a budget of approx. € 633.000: Zebra on-line debate programme (2012-2013), Inbox web based investigative journalism project (2014-2015), regular stories of a joint network of correspondents Nova TV and Almakos web portals (2014-2015), setting up a new independent news agency Meta (2014-2016), and establishment of an informative and debate programme 360 Degrees on Alsat-M national television station (2014-2016).

  • Institutional support to the newly established Council of Media Ethics in Macedonia as the first self-regulatory body in the media sphere (2014-2016) with a budget of € 130.000

  • Strengthening parliamentary oversight through training and coaching programme for parliamentarians and staffers (2013-2015) in co-operation with the Centre for European and Security Studies in the Netherlands with a budget of € 150.000.

Rule of law:

In the past:

  • What have we contributed to?

    • Improved national law and trained personnel

    • Setting up mediation structures and advancing the use of ADR in the Balkans

    • Advanced prosecution of corruption related cases

    • Enhanced the quality of democratic governance by enabling citizens to participate in the fight against corruption,

    Balkan Enforcement Reform Project (2009–2011) - Regional cooperation project focussed on improving the execution of civil court verdicts by developing and improving national law and training judicial personnel (bailiffs). Implementing organisation is the Dutch Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC). Financed by the regional Balkan fund with a budget amounting to 2,476,186 .

  • Introduction and development of jurisprudence in Macedonia through co-operation with CILC with a budget of € 600.000.

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Program (2005 – 2010) - setting up mediation structures in five Balkan countries, financed from the Dutch regional Balkan fund with a budget of approximately € 1.000.000

  • Cooperation between Dutch MoI/KLPD and MK MoI/Police in combating document fraud and vehicle crime. Financial support of USD 800,000.

  • Anti-corruption project - (May 2009-December 2010) - financial support of a coalition of NGOs (All for Fair Trials) for monitoring and analysing public reporting on corruption related court cases to address the problem of corruption in MK and to advance prosecution.

  • Advancing the Advocacy Legal Advice Centre (ALAC) and establishment of ALAC offices in the east and the west of country (2012- 2014) to increase access to justice to citizens without any costs implemented with Transparency International Macedonia with a budget of € 150.000.


  • Promote the competences of the Judicial Council, The Academy for Training of Judges and Prosecutors and the courts of the Republic of Macedonia (2014 – 2016) in accordance with European standards and to gain knowledge on monitoring and implementation of the EU standards involving the Judiciary through a twinning co-operation programme with the Netherlands Council for the Judiciary with a budget of € 160.000.

  • Protecting of the reporting persons and role of the media and civil society (2014 – 2016) to raise the public and policy makers’ awareness regarding the importance of the whistle-blower protection for the rule of law and the fight against corruption with a budget of € 150.000;

Gender and Human Rights:
The Netherlands financed several projects on the field of gender and human rights. Netherlands is the only bilateral donor that paid specific attention to gender problems in Macedonia and one of the first donors to openly support LGBTI rights:

In the past:

  • Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) - This project enhances consciousness and knowledge of GRB on national and local level by training and advising of the National Task Group on Gender Responsive budgeting, members of the parliamentary committee on equal rights, and civil servants from two pilot municipalities. Austria is co-donor. Execution by the UNIFEM. Project period: 2009-2010, with a budget of 120,000.

  • Domestic Violence (DV) - Objective is to improve coordination and strengthen capacities of government institutions and public organisations in the field of preventing DV and offering adequate support to victims. The project was coordinated by a joint steering committee under the supervision of UNDP in which UN organisations in MK and the MK Ministry of Labour and Social Policy are represented. Project period: 2008 – 2011, with a budget of 1.9 million

  • Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) - This project supports the Macedonian government in developing and executing national law and policy in the field of SRHR, setting up an information and consultation structure for young people and training professionals that are involved with SRHR. Execution by UNFPA in cooperation with MoH. Budget amounting to 323,700. Project period 2009 – 2011.

  • Support to the creation of the first LGBTI Centre in Macedonia in 2013, within the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in the country, with the amount of 82,000

  • Support in sstrengthening the child justice system in the country through a protective environment framework for children in co-operation with UNICEF 2012-2014 ( € 150.000)


  • Improving of prison conditions for reintegration of juvenile detainees in selected facilities in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo with an objective to change general behavior within the prison system among the main actors in the target countries as an essential step towards fulfilling the EU acquis. The programme is implemented by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (€ 1.466.500)

  • Strengthening Rule of Law to protect LGBT community (2014-2015) to improve state response to discriminatory practices against the LGBTI community in Macedonia leading to an overall improvement of the social status of the LGBTI community in the country with a budget of € 100.000.

Continuing the Economy and Trade support for stimulation of the trade cooperation with Macedonia…
Over € 22 million have been contributed by the Netherlands Foreign Trade Promotion Agency – EVD as well as PUM and CBI through various trade instruments which were opened or which will remain to be available for the Dutch and Macedonian companies:
In the past:

  • What have we contributed to?

    • Joint investments through the PSOM/PSI programme in sectors such as dairy industry, steel construction and tree nursery (mentioned as examples);

    • A number of CBI sector export coaching programmes in the field of textiles, wines, automotive parts etc. and two institutional CBI programmes to assist a wine export association and export promotion agency;

    • Only in 2014, 37 PUM experts visited Macedonian companies from various sectors;

    • The matchmaking programme resulted in new partnerships established between Macedonian and Dutch companies;

    • A new Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Macedonia - NL Chamber was established in 2011;

    • New modern business portal, aimed at support of the local, regional and Dutch enterprises, called ‘’balkanbusiness.nl’’, was launched in 2014…

    The already closed PSOM/PSI programme, financially supported joint investments of Dutch and Macedonian companies with a maximum value of € 1.5 million of which 50% was provided in a form of a financial grant financed by the EVD. The programme contributed to close to 30 joint ventures in Macedonia.

  • In addition, the ORET/ORIO programme that was officially closed for new applications in 2014, have been available for infrastructure projects in the field of environment, energy, water and health sectors. The programme assisted investments in the field of infrastructure in these sectors by the Macedonian government in cooperation with the private sector. The total available financial assistance per project ranged from € 2 to € 60 million.

ORIO’s contribution to the project by the Ministry of Health - Set up of an integrated system of maternal and child health care for improved health outcomes in the Republic of Macedonia received support from ORIO, amounting to EUR 6.3 million project will be implemented in the period 2011 - 2014.
Currently available private sector support programs:

  • The Development Cooperation Matchmaking Facility (MMF) is a program for Macedonian private sector companies that are interested in establishment of business contacts and cooperation with Dutch business partners. In the past years the embassy have accepted numerous applications, whereby partnerships were established between Macedonian and Dutch partners in different industrial sectors, some of which resulted in a joint PSI investment projects or in the new trading relationships between the companies from both countries. The program remains opened for all Macedonian private small and medium sized companies from all business sectors, which have a solid business idea for cooperation.

  • The Netherlands Management Co-operation Programme (PUM) offers senior PUM advisers to companies and institutions that can transfer knowledge and experience from their own specialist fields. The number of missions to Macedonia has steadily increased as of 2009 to close to 40 projects per annum. In 2014 a total of 37 projects were supported by PUM in various sectors including the textile industry, tourism, machinery, food processing industry and wine sector. The Netherlands Management Co-operation Programme (PUM) in the future will be joining the efforts with the RVO, for closer cooperation in the execution of the matchmaking services for the MMF programme. The cooperation type and new roles of the two service providers will be additionally defined during 2015. The Macedonian government in cooperation with Netherlands Management Co-operation Programme (PUM) have established a new program for support of the Macedonian private sector companies. In the course of 2014, this newly established bilateral cooperation resulted in more than 10 expert visit missions, with an announcement that this number will be at least doubled in the coming 2015.

  • CBI is the agency of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs that assists developing countries in strengthening their export capabilities towards the European Union and the Netherlands market in particular by offering technical and financial assistance at different levels. In Macedonia, the programmes for textiles, fresh fruits and vegetables, wine export, automotive parts and piping were successfully executed in the past years. From the institutional programme of CBI, the establishment of an export-coaching agency and a wine export association are assisted by offering institutional assistance.

  • The Embassy initiated and supported the establishment of a new Dutch Chamber of Commerce in Macedonia under the name of NL Chamber. The objective of the NL Chamber is to better facilitate and support Dutch companies present in Macedonia in their relations with government institutions, to provide a network of business partners and to exchange experience and knowledge about doing business in Macedonia.

  • In 2014, the embassy has launched a new business portal, named ‘’Balkan Business’’. The goal behind this project is to stimulate, facilitate and increase the trade and business cooperation between the companies and institutions from the Netherlands and their counterparts from Macedonia, including the neighbouring Albania and Kosovo.The portal is intended to be a one-stop point for essential business information, useful links and a matchmaking place for all companies interested in expanding their International business cooperation. Additionally, http://balkanbusiness.nl/ is a source for essential market and business climate information for the Netherlands, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo, as well as source for the latest business information on the available Dutch Government business support instruments and programs.

  • In the effort of bringing the regional (Balkan) markets and opportunities closer to the Dutch business community and vice versa, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, will continue its business supporting activities in close cooperation with the colleagues from the Dutch Embassies in Tirana and Pristina.

Support programs to be available from 2015:

  • Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) is a support program for private sector SME’s that have plans to invest / export in low – and middle – income countries and are unable to obtain finance for their activities from commercial financiers. DGGF is a revolving finance fund for investments and insurance capital open for 66 emerging markets and developing countries. Revolving financing refers to the obligation of the entrepreneur who must repay the received financing support. All revolved capital goes back into the fund, so other business owners can also use the benefits of the DGGF program.

The DGGF programme is intended for:

  • Local small and medium-sized businesses in the 66 DGGF countries (incl. Macedonia);

  • Dutch small and medium-sized businesses that want to invest in and/or export to the 66 DGGF countries.

  • Subsidies for Knowledge Acquisition, Feasibility Studies and Demonstration Project (DHK). The DHK program (DHK= demonstratie, haalbaarheid, kennis) is a subsidy program supporting the market access of Dutch companies in a number of countries. The program subsidizes 50% of the budgeted project costs.

Only Dutch SMEs with a minimum of 3 full time employees will be eligible to apply. Applicants can also be foreign businesses that have a registered branch or office in the Netherlands. Start-up companies are excluded from further consideration.

Demonstration Projects - This component of the DHK program will subsidize practical demonstration of Dutch products, technologies and processes, intended for future introduction on the targeted export market. Both hardware and technical assistance can be subsidized. The subsidy covers 50% of the costs, up to a maximum of €200,000 per project. The time span of a single demonstration project can be a maximum of 3 years.

Feasibility Studies - This component will subsidize feasibility studies which research the technical and commercial viability of a concrete project, aimed at determining a future investment decision. The subsidy covers 50% of the costs, up to a maximum of €100,000 per project. The time span of the feasibility studies can be a maximum of 3 years.

Knowledge Acquisition - Subsidizing companies on engaging with a third party expert to provide the necessary advice and expertise on the proposed market. The subsidy can be ranging from €10,000 to 50,000. The time span of a single knowledge acquisition project can be a maximum of 1 year. Only single businesses and not consortia of multiple applicants can apply for the knowledge acquisition support.
Supporting Culture and Development….
More than € 700,000 has been invested to specifically support cultural programmes in Macedonia via Culture and Development and MATRA programmes of the Embassy.

  • What have we contributed to?

    • Overall increase of the cultural activities in the municipalities and promotion of their cultural assets beyond municipal border

    • Both men and women are involved at intermediary and ultimate beneficiary level.
    Strengthen cultural planning, programming and accountability of the municipalities of Bitola,  Kratovo, Veles, Debar, Mavrovo and Rostuse and bi-annual cultural programmes in the area of decentralization of culture; culture as a development resource; and protection and (re)creation of cultural heritage

  • Supported the opening of a new educational facility - Skopje Dance Academy (SDA) established in cooperation with Rotterdam Dance Academy, at the ESRA Academy in Skopje, with a total budget of almost 200,000 from 2010-2013

  • Annual contribution to Dance Fest Skopje since 2008)- a festival stimulating exchange of experience and energy between participating dancers and their groups and exposure the Macedonian audience to the contemporary dance developments in the Netherlands

  • Annual support to Manaki Film Festival (2010-2013) - improving film making capacity in Macedonia via exposure to contemporary European and international trends.

  • Promotion of contemporary design via support to the traditional Skopje Design Week and various courses for young designers, including presentation of recent achievements in Dutch design

improving the Public Finance Management system in the country...

More than € 11 million have been invested to improve the public finance management system in Macedonia. This includes:

  • Ongoing technical assistance programme between the Netherlands and Macedonian Ministry of Finance based on a bilateral MoU in various areas of interest.

In the past:

  • Strengthening the external audit function through a twinning programme between the Netherlands Court of Audit and the Macedonian State Audit Office. The Dutch support begun in 2005 until 2008 with a budget of approximately 1 million, funded from the Dutch ODA budget, and approximately € 350.000 for the period in 2009 and 2010 from the MATRA fund.

  • Ongoing twinning arrangement between the Dutch and Macedonian Customs to enhance the work of the Macedonian Customs. The total budget for the period January 2009 - June 2012 has been set to € 300,000.

  • Support to the revenue administration reform and modernisation of the Public Revenue Office (PRO). After the successful completion of the Project in 2009, it has been continued twice, from 2009 until 2010 and again from September 2010 until August 2011. Overall, the Dutch contribution to this reform process is € 4 million.

  • Technical assistance Trust Funds at the World Bank to support crucial reforms in the financial, health, judicial and labour market sector.

  • The Netherlands Ministry of Finance has provided assistance to Macedonia with respect to the Strengthening and implementing of Public Internal Financial Control in the Framework of a Cards twinning project- (April 2009 - December 2010), with a budget of € 400.000. , A continuation of the project under MATRA has been ensured since 2010 onwards.

  • Support to the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Local Self-Government and municipalities in the process of decentralization through the implementation of the concept of Public Financial Control systems (PIFC), (2011-2012) from the Dutch Ministry of Finance under IPA amounts to approximately € 2 million.

  • Support to capacity building of Ministry of Finance and National Bank staff, through providing highly specialised courses by the Duisenberg School of Finance (2010-onwards). Funding of € 80.000- 120.000 from the Constituency Fund.

Substantial support to private sector development …
Assistance to the amount of € 30 million has been provided for private sector development until 2010, including business registration, business regulation, real estate cadastre, access to finance, corporate financial reporting, accounting, and auditing and agriculture land consolidation. This includes:

What have we contributed to?

  • Increased access to finance for micro, small and medium size enterprises.

  • Increased job creation and poverty reduction.

  • PCB is a widely recognised bank for the local small businesses. It has granted 63,000 loans in four years and has disbursed a total of approximately € 252 million.

  • Aligned company financial reporting with international financial reporting standards and EU regulations

  • The reconstruction of the irrigation canals enabled increase of the irrigated areas, higher crop yields and increased income for farmers, while the more efficient irrigation management resulted into reduced water fees and increased cost recovery for the water economies and irrigation water communities that manage the irrigation schemes.

  • The pilot cadastre project served as a model and has been replicated in the real estate regional offices throughout the country as part of the on-going cadastre sector reforms.

  • Support to the Macedonian Enterprise Development Foundation (MEDF) aiming at creation of employment opportunities by promotion of the development of micro and small businesses.

  • Support the establishment of the first micro- finance bank in the country – ProCredit Bank (PCB)

  • Support the reforms in corporate accounting and auditing (REPARIS project).

  • €10 million support to the reforms in the irrigation sector with a view to enable more intensive and competitive agriculture production in in Tikves, Bregalnica and Polog regions.

  • In view of the fact that clear, transparent and secured property rights are a cornerstone of developed market economy, the Netherlands supported the reforms in the field of the real estate cadastre. A pilot regional cadastre office in Kumanovo was refurbished and modernised with the support from the Netherlands.

  • Agriculture land fragmentation and inefficient use of land are major obstacles for agriculture sector development. An agriculture land consolidation project is supported in order to assist Macedonian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy (MAFWE) in setting main directions for developing a comprehensive rural land development strategy and policy.

An important development partner in the area of education, furnishing support for structural reform and modernisation…
Close to € 40 million have been invested until 2010 in improving the education system in the country. This includes:

  • Support the establishment of the South East Europe University (SEEU).

  • Support to the Education Modernisation Programme of the World Bank where the Netherlands is the largest donor with a contribution of €10 million.

  • Support of Equal Educational Opportunities for Roma Children, targeting 10 primary schools all over the country.

  • What have we contributed to?

    • SEEU is a well functioning and widely accepted university in Macedonia.

    • Enrolment of less privileged students in SEEU through Dutch scholarships.

    • Increased capacity of stakeholders in primary and secondary education to improve the quality of learning and to enhance participation.

    • Improved access to quality education for marginalised groups, especially Roma children.

    • Strengthening of the capacity of the Macedonian public administration to cope with the challenges of the EU accession process.

    Support to the International Summer University Macedonia Programme, in which 4 Macedonian universities co-operate in order to organise summer classes, which attract over 500 participants from Western Balkan and EU countries every year.

  • Support of three fellowship programmes for Macedonia:

  • Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP) administered by the Netherlands Organization for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC).
  • Netherlands Fellowship Programme - Macedonia EU Studies- designed to create a body of qualified and dedicated civil servants that can deal with matters related to the EU integration of Macedonia.

  • MATRA Training for European Cooperation (MTEC) for Macedonian civil servants.

  • Support of Multi-annual Agreement (offered by Nuffic) with the Faculty of Law of SEEU to strengthen the capacity of the faculty in the EU related fields.

  • Support to the education decentralisation process, including the formulation of a relevant manual to be used by municipalities for proper budgeting of decentralised education funds.

Support to the defence sector…

What have we contributed to?

  • Modernisation of the logistic system (standardisation of vehicles)

  • Improvement of the medical chain (especially medical logistic maintenance)

  • Command & Infrastructure Systems (CIS) for MoD

  • Specialised trainings to MoD and ARM

Through bilateral assistance since 1997, the Netherlands has provided exchange of information, financial support, equipment, training and education as well as active co-operation in the field of logistics. Tailor-made support was provided to assist the reforms and modernisation of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Macedonian Armed Forces (ARM).

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