North Macedonia profile - Timeline

  • Published

A chronology of key events:

1913 - Ottoman rule in Europe ends after five centuries. Historic Macedonia is partitioned between Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. What is now North Macedonia is incorporated into Serbia.

1914 - World War I. Macedonia is occupied by Bulgaria.

1918-19 - End of the war, Macedonia becomes part of Serbia again. The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes is founded, and is renamed Yugoslavia in 1929.

1945 - Establishment of Yugoslav socialist federation, comprising six republics, including the future North Macedonia.

1980s - Rise of nationalism among federation's constituent republics.


1991 - Majority of voters support independence in referendum. International recognition slowed by Greek objections to the name Macedonia, which the same as its neighbouring province.

1993 - Gains UN membership under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

1995 - Greece recognises independence, lifts earlier trade restrictions.

1997 - Constitutional court and parliament forbid use of Albanian flag, sparking protests among large ethnic-Albanian minority.

Tensions rise

1999 March - Nato begins bombing campaign against Yugoslavia over its treatment of Kosovo Albanians. Serbian mass expulsion and killings of Kosovo Albanians leads to exodus into neighbouring countries.

1999 June - Yugoslavia accepts peace plan. Kosovo refugees start leaving Macedonia.

2001 February/March - Uprising by ethnic Albanians. National Liberation Army emerges demanding equal rights for ethnic Albanians.

Image caption,
An uprising by ethnic Albanians led to skirmishes and brought the country close to civil war

2001 May - Main parties form government of national unity under Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, which pledges to address minority grievances.

Armed protesters besiege parliament in Skopje, angry at what they see as leniency towards ethnic Albanian rebels.

Peace returns

2001 August - Government and rebels sign western-backed Ohrid peace agreement involving greater recognition of ethnic-Albanian rights, in exchange for rebel pledge to hand over weapons to Nato peace force.

2001 November - Parliament approves new constitution incorporating reforms required by August peace deal. It recognises Albanian as an official language, and increases access for ethnic-Albanians to public-sector jobs, including the police.

2003 March - EU takes over peacekeeping duties from Nato.

2004 February - President Boris Trajkovski is killed in a plane crash in Bosnia while on his way to a conference in Bosnia. Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski wins presidential election in April.

Path to Europe

2004 March - Macedonia submits application to join EU.

2004 August - Despite protests by ethnic Macedonians, parliament approves legislation plans to redraw municipal borders and give minority ethnic Albanians more power in certain areas under the 2001 Ohrid peace agreement.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army became a political party

2005 December - Macedonia becomes a candidate for EU membership.

2006 July - Nikola Gruevski, leader of the centre-right VMRO-DPMNE party, forms a governing coalition with the Democratic Party of Albanians and three smaller parties following general elections.

Name dispute resurfaces

2008 April - Greece blocks a Nato invitation for Macedonia over objections to the country's name. Snap elections are called.

2008 October - Macedonia recognises Kosovo, despite protests from Serbia.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
North Macedonia is waiting to join the European Union

2009 December - Visa-free travel within EU's Schengen zone comes into effect for Macedonian citizens.

2011 December - The International Court of Justice in The Hague rules that Greece was wrong to block Macedonia's bid to join Nato in 2008 because of the row over its name.

Political tensions

2013 April - EU report on Macedonia's path towards membership says country has made progress in all areas, despite domestic political tensions. The report also calls on Macedonia to continue efforts to improve relations with Bulgaria and Greece.

2015 May - Clashes in the northern town of Kumanovo leave 8 police and 14 gunmen dead. The government blames ethnic Albanian "terrorists" from neighbouring Kosovo for the unrest.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The town of Ohrid and its lake are world heritage sites

2015-16 - Macedonia struggles with huge numbers of the migrants making their way from the Middle East to northern Europe.

2017 May - Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev forms a coalition with ethnic-Albanian groups, ending months of deadlock since the December elections.

Name change

2018 October - Referendum to change country's name to North Macedonia declared invalid due to low turnout. Government presses ahead, in line with a June 2018 agreement with Greece.

Image source, Government of North Macedonia
Image caption,
The new sign goes up on the Greek border

2019 February - Name change to North Macedonia comes into force after ratification by Greek and Macedonian parliaments, opening way for Greece to stop blocking its neighbour's bid to join EU and Nato.

North Macedonia signs Nato accession agreement.