Dr. Cvetan Cvetkovski, Ass. Professor,
Faculty of Law, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia



The creation of the modern Republic of Macedonia is a result of the struggle of Macedonian people for national independence and statehood throughout centuries. The contemporary Macedonian state, created in the course of the Second World War, was an ultimate result of a continuing historical process of national awakening and maturation of the people's awareness and of a long-lasting struggle for their own state and national freedom carried on under exceptionally difficult and complex historical circumstances.

Three occasions represent cornerstones in the constitutional development of the Republic of Macedonia: The first one is the Ilinden Uprising of the Macedonian people against Ottoman Empire on St. Elia's Day, August 2nd, 1903 in Krushevo. Then the Krushevo Republic - the first republic in the Balkans and the first independent state of the Macedonian nation was established. The Republic lasted for 10 days only and it was destroyed in cruel manner. The second occasion was the struggle of the Macedonian nation for national liberation during the Second World War (1941-1945). Then the Macedonian state was created for the second and ultimately successful time - through the documents adopted at the First Session of ASNOM (Anti-Fascist Assembly for the People's Liberation of Macedonia). And finally, the third occasion is the process of getting a status of sovereign and independent state after the dissolution of Yugoslav federation at the beginning of 1990's. Then the Macedonian state became an independent subject of international relations - formally constituted by a series of documents with political and constitutional significance, with the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia of 1991 at its end.

There are two major features of the constitutional development of the Republic of Macedonia. First, its beginning and its greater part were closely connected with the constitutional development of the Yugoslav federation. Although the constitutions of Macedonia were an expression of its sovereignty and the sovereign right to pass and change independently its constitution, the constitutional structure of that larger state, whose member Macedonia was for more than 45 years, determiningly influenced all the constitutional changes on the republic level. In fact, until 1990 the constitutional development of the republics were a mere reflection of the constitutional changes on the federal level. The second feature is connected with the frequency of the constitutional changes. Since the adoption of the first formal Constitution of the People's Republic of Macedonia of 1946 to the present, Macedonia has passed four complete constitutions and more than ten more or less comprehensive constitutional reforms by constitutional amendments. These, relatively numerous constitutional changes in such a brief period of time, should not be interpreted only as a sign of constitutional instability in the country. They were also a result of the dynamic development of a state which was trying to find its own pattern of development.

1. Creation of the contemporary Macedonian state during the Second World War (1941-1945)

In the Second World War the Macedonian people chose the side of the Anti-fascist coalition, because in the victory of that coalition it saw its own chances for achievement of its national liberty, the realization of its right to national self-determination and the real possibilities for creation of its own state. The elements of the Macedonian state de facto began to be created from the very beginning of the war - through the formation of the People's Liberation Committees, which factually performed the role of state authority on the liberated territories. Through those committees, the foundations of the organizational structure of the new state became a reality at the end of 1943.

The First Session of ASNOM (Anti-Fascist Assembly for the People's Liberation of Macedonia), held on August 2nd, 1944 was the first, constitutional assembly and representative of the sovereign will of the Macedonian people. By its decisions it completed the fundamental structure of the Macedonian state and declared its factual existence and factual constitution. The creation of a Macedonian state as a member state of the Yugoslav federation that time was confirmed as the only real alternative. All other options - a Balkan federation or an independent state - were not likely to be achieved that time, because they were not part of the global strategic interests of the great powers in the Balkans. From the other side, in the overall conditions in the course of the Second World War the Yugoslav Antifascist Movement was the only one which had recognized the Macedonian nation and supported its right to self-determination.

The decisions of the First Session of ASNOM, along with the decisions of the Second Session of AVNOJ (Anti-fascist Council for the People's Liberation of Yugoslavia), which was held on 29 of November 1943, represent the political and constitutionally legal basis for the constitutional organization of the newly-formed federal state and the federal units in it. The First Session of ASNOM was a crucial starting point in the constitutional construction and development of Macedonia. The First Session of ASNOM actually was the first free parliament of Macedonian people during the war, and it was authorized to pass the constitutional enactment's on which the state structure of Macedonia was founded, i.e. to decide on the legal status of Macedonia within the Yugoslav federation. The constitutional enactments of the First Session of ASNOM were constitutional both in their character (form) and in their essence. Their basic substance was later transferred to the first Constitution of 1946.

All the decisions made by the First Session of ASNOM and by its Presidium, cannot be evaluated without a general look at the decisions passed by the Second Session of AVNOJ (Anti-fascist Council for the People's Liberation of Yugoslavia), which was held on November 29th, 1943. Their essence in constitutional meaning is to abolish the structure of the old Yugoslavia and to replace it with a new one. Many of the resolution passed by AVNOJ have constitutional character and significance, although it was not a formal constitutional assembly. They had a constitutional significance both because of the body that passed them and because of their substance. Namely, AVNOJ was made up of representatives of all the nations of Yugoslavia, and the resolutions dealt with questions of primary constitutional character: the position of nations and nationalities (national minorities) in a multinational state and the attitude toward the nominal representative of the sovereignty of the occupied state and relations with other states (the question of the international legal continuity between the old and the new Yugoslavia.

The reality of factual existence of the Macedonian state was recognized by the Second Session of AVNOJ. In its Declaration for creating Yugoslavia on Federal Principle, it was stated that Macedonia, i. e. the Macedonian state, is one of the six constitutive elements of the federation. This declaration for the first time in the history recognized the Macedonian people an equal position in regard to other Yugoslav nations. In addition, one of the first regulations passed by the Presidium of AVNOJ recognized the Macedonian language, along with Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian languages, as one of the official languages on the entire territory of Yugoslavia.

The Second Session of AVNOJ passed one declaration and six resolutions. At least four of those documents have constitutional significance. The Declaration of the Second Session of AVNOJ, among other questions, established views on the basic questions of the character and organization of the new state and the rights and position of the nations in it. The Resolution on the Supreme Legislative and Executive People's Representative Body of Yugoslavia and on the People's Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia, as the Temporary Organs of Authority established the highest bodies of state authority. By this resolution AVNOJ was established as the supreme representative of the sovereignty of the people and of the state of Yugoslavia. The Resolution to Construct Yugoslavia on the Federal Principle established the form of the new state by proclaiming that Yugoslavia would be constructed in accordance with the principle of federal organization as a brotherly community founded on a democratic basis and national equality. This resolution stemmed from the principle on the right of the nations to self-determination, including the right to secession or to unite with other nations, and from the will of the Yugoslav nations expressed during the struggle for national liberation. This resolution confirmed the will of Yugoslav nations to continue to remain united in Yugoslavia, and not to recognize the territorial divisions carried out by the occupiers. The Resolution established that "Yugoslavia is being built and will continue to be built on the federal principle which will guarantee the complete equality of the Serbs, Croats, Slovenians, Macedonians, and Montenegrins".

A resolution was taken to form the Presidency of AVNOJ, which was entrusted with the carrying out of legislative functions between the two session of AVNOJ. The Resolution also formed the People's Committees for the Liberation of Yugoslavia, with the character of the highest executive organ of power, through which AVNOJ carried out its executive functions.

In general, the Second Session of AVNOJ saw the constitution of the new state and the constitutional bases for its construction were laid down there.

The first enactment of ASNOM with constitutional meaning and significance is the Resolution of ASNOM as the Supreme Legislative and Executive Representative Body of the People and the Supreme Office of the State government of Democratic Macedonia. This resolution first adopted the resolutions of the Second Session of AVNOJ and then expressed the sovereign will of the people of Macedonia ant their right to self-determination. Thus, ASNOM essentially proclaimed the creation of the Macedonian state as an equal federal unit of Democratic Federal Yugoslavia. The Resolution also provided for the formation of a popular government as the executive organ of the Macedonian state, with the added rider that its functions would be carried out by the Presidium of ASNOM until this government was formed. (The Government was formed on April 17th, 1945). The Resolution divided functions between the plenary session of ASNOM, its Presidium and the government, and established the law of the Macedonian state as binding on the territory of Macedonia, as well as the law of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and also laid down the structure of ASNOM.

The Declaration of ASNOM on the Basic Rights of the Citizens of Democratic Macedonia is the next enactment of constitutional character. It established the equality before the law of all the citizens of the Macedonian state, regardless of nationality, sex, race and religion, and guaranteed the national minorities all the rights of a free national life. Similarly, it laid down franchise rights and the rights of every citizen to appeal against the decisions of the organs of authority. The Declaration also laid down the duty of the government to eliminate illiteracy and to raise the level of popular culture and to provide free education.

The Declaration of ASNOM to Introduce the Macedonian Language as the Official Language in the Macedonian State was an expression of the national character of the newly-formed state.

In order to implement these and other resolutions passed by ASNOM, as well as to put the political and state mechanism of the new state into operation, the Presidium of ASNOM passed a series of enactments and regulations. Apart from their executive character, all those resolutions have also constitutional importance as the first documents on state organization. The most important among them are the following: the Resolution on the organization of commissariats in the Presidium of ASNOM, according to which 8 departments were formed for the vital areas of political, economic and cultural life; the Resolution to divide Macedonia into regions, districts and communes, The Resolution to establish a people's militia; the Resolution to introduce primary and secondary education; the Resolution on the organization and work of the People' Liberation Committees in the federal Macedonian state, which took care of the basic questions connected with the functioning of the basic repositories of power in the country.

Due to the fact that Macedonia was first liberated among other Yugoslav territories, in a relatively short period of time - until April 1945, when the first federal government was established, Macedonia de facto was functioning as almost independent state. But by the first federal constitution of 1946, after the example of the Soviet federation, a centralized federation, with extremely large competencies, was introduced. In that period, until the constitutional Amendments of 1971 and the Constitution of 1974, a uniform and highly centralized federalism was the global framework for the constitutional development of Macedonia.

2. Constitutional development of Macedonia within the framework of the Yugoslav federation (1946-1991)

The first constitutional period of Macedonia in a formal sense began with the introduction of the Constitution of Popular Republic of Macedonia on the 31st December 1946. This first formal constitution of Macedonia was passed less than a year after the passing of the first Constitution of Federal Popular Republic of Yugoslavia from 31st of January 1946.

The first constitution of Macedonia was passed and proclaimed by the Constitutional Assembly of the Popular Republic of Macedonia, which, after having passed the Constitution, continued its work as a regular assembly. Apart from its constitutional and legal significance as the highest act of the country, this constitution also had a particular political importance, because it was a document through which the Macedonian state was constitutionally established, and therefore, generally recognized.

The constitution of 1946 first set out the character of the state and the way in which it was to be administered. The People's Republic of Macedonia was established as a people's state in a republican form, in which the Macedonian people, expressing their free will, joined together with the other nations of Yugoslavia and their people's republics on the principle of equality to form a common federal state - the FPRY. This definition of the republic exclusively expressed its state legal element, which was necessary and justified during that period, in order to express its constituting as a state. In this definition, there are also elements of the principle of self-determination of the people, expressed in a voluntarily and freely expressed will to join together with the other nations of Yugoslavia.

The first Constitution contained a special chapter on the socio-economic organization of the country, dealing with the kinds of property and the relation between of the state property and private property.

The chapter of the Constitution that dealt with the rights and duties of citizens bears a special political, legal and constitutional importance. The provisions of this chapters first verified the declarations of the fundamental rights of the citizen passed at the Second Session of AVNOJ and the First Session of ASNOM, and also established democratic political socio-economic, cultural national and other rights. The most important among them are: the equality of citizens before the law regardless of nationality, race and religion; the general franchise right of all citizens of 18 years and over regardless of sex, nationality, race, religion, level of education and domicile; the total equality of men and women in all areas of state, economic and political life and the right of women to have the same pay as men for doing the same work; freedom of conscience and religious belief; the separation of the church from the state and the freedom of church communities to perform their rights, as well as the possibility of the state providing material funds for such communities; the inviolability of the citizen's personality; the freedom of the press and speech; the inviolability of the home and mail; the freedom of art and science and the right to an education, with the state being obliged to provide the material means for the running of schools; and finally, the right to limited working hours. According to the Constitution, the national minorities enjoyed full rights and the protection of their cultural development, as well as the freedom to use their own language, which was one of the most vital elements in their position. The first among the duties of every citizen was to work according to his abilities, to fulfill all public obligations conscientiously and to adhere to the Constitution and the law. The defense of the country was established as the highest duty and honor of every citizen.

In a special section the Constitution set out the organization of the state and the organization of the government. Beginning with the principles established in the Constitution of FPRY and standing by the decisions of the First Session of ASNOM, thereby expressing the individuality of the newly-created state, the Constitution established the functions of the Republic and indicated those matters which were to be assigned to the FPRY "for the purpose of mutual economic aid and cooperation, as well as for the joint defense of national freedom and independence".

The basic features of the function of the Republic were as follows: the expressed directive and operative roles of the state, which was understandable and necessary in the period after the war, when the newly-created state was being rebuilt and organized; the relative limitation of the extent of centralized functions within the federation, which was justified by international conditions and the attitude of foreign countries toward Yugoslavia, as well as in view of the construction of the federation as a new state; the realization of a series of measures and activities within the Republic by means (virtue) of (federal) laws regulations and other acts of the federation, motivated by the need of centralized planning, leadership and financing of the development of Yugoslavia as a whole, due to the unequal (uneven) development of the various republics.

Expressing the sovereignty of the Republic, the Constitution laid down the organization of the government and established the state organs of authority: the Assembly (parliament) - as the representative of national sovereignty, the supreme organ of national authority and the legislative body of the Republic, which performed all the basic functions of the Republic, except those which have been transferred to the Presidium and to the Administration; the Presidium - as a special body with certain powers from the sphere of the Assembly between its sessions; the Administration - as the supreme administrative organ of state power; the local organs of state power in the form of national committees of various levels; the courts (regional, district and the Supreme Court of the PRM; and the offices of Public Prosecutor for each of the three levels.

The organization of government was based on the principle of unity of powers, i.e. in the form of assembly system. It meant that the Assembly was the highest organ of government and that the principle of hierarchy was applied in relations between the Assembly, its Presidium and the Administration. The Assembly elected the Presidium, nominated ministers and had the right to dismiss them. The Presidium and the Administration were answerable to the Assembly for their work and in certain cases some of their enactments were subject to confirmation by the Assembly. The courts were independent in performing their functions, but the election of judges was totally under control of the Assembly. The relations between the local organs of authority and the Republic's agencies were also established on the hierarchical principle, so that there was both vertical and horizontal responsibility.

The political system under the Constitution of 1946 was founded on the concept of popular democracy. In the first years after the war, that system emerged from the largest political bases. Later that political bases was made more and more narrow and the class-political essence (the dictatorship of the working class) become more and more prevailing, and the power of the working class was replaced by the monopoly power of the Communist Party on behalf of the working people.

The first reform of the constitutional system of the country came less than seven years after the first constitution had been ratified, as a result of the introduction of self-management into the economy. All those changes were verified and further directed by federal and republican constitutional acts on social and political organization. The Constitutional Act of the PRM of 1953 brought about a number changes in the definition of the Republic. It was redefined in such a manner to introduce some elements of self-management into the notion of statehood. Thus, the Republic was defined as "a socialist democratic state of the working people of Macedonia voluntarily united with the working people of the other people's republics in the FPRY, as a united state of sovereign and equal people".

The Constitutional Act also laid down, as the basis for social and political organization of the country, the social ownership of the means of production, the self-management of producers in the economy, as well as the self-management of working people in the fields of education, culture and social services. The Constitutional Act established the concept of self-management as the basic element in the social system, and to a certain extent in the political system, as a result of the introduction of new rights and extension of the freedoms and rights of citizens already contained in the Constitution. Thus, besides the right to work, the right of working people to freely associate their labor was introduced in order to accomplish democratic, political, economic, social, scientific, cultural and other common interests.

The new basis of social and political organization also brought about important changes in the organization of the government and its agencies. First, the previously single-chamber Assembly was made into two-chamber body, so that there was now a representative Political Council chosen by all electors on the basis of the universal and equal right of franchise, and the Council of Producers as the representative of workers in enterprises. The introduction of the Council of Producers meant the direct inclusion of their representatives in exercising political power. Second, the previous Administration of the Republic was replaced by an Executive Council as the political executive organ of the Assembly. The Assembly elected the Executive Council from among its own members. This led to a clearer implementation of the assembly system of government.

The ratification of constitutional amendments in Yugoslavia led to important changes in the division of functions between the federation and the republics. It extended the functions of republics and the jurisdiction of republics' organs, as the beginning of the process of decentralization and the elimination of the hierarchical relations that existed between federal and republican organs. It increased the independence of the republics but also increased their responsibility as regards implementing their extended duties.

The second constitutional period of the Republic of Macedonia began with the adoption of the second complete Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, which was proclaimed by the Assembly on April 12th, 1963.

As a novelty in the theory of constitutions, the Constitution contained an extensive introduction which expresses the basic principles of the social organization of the country. Those principles established the basis and the essence of the socialist social organization and self-management relations; the elements and components of the position of man in a self-managing socialist society; the substance of socialist self-management and the character of political power as an instrument of the working class and working people in ensuring the organization of society; the position of socio-political organization; and finally, the statement that the basic principles of socialist society and its development serve as a basis for interpreting the Constitution and the laws, as well as for the behavior of each and everyone.

The definition of the Republic also underwent changes in that Constitution and appeared in its third form. The Socialist Republic of Macedonia was defined as "a state, socialist, democratic community of the people of Macedonia founded on the power of the working people and on self-management." This definition re-affirmed the national character of the state in a much broader sense, and included new elements, such as socialist relationship and self-management of the working people as an element of its statehood. It was a result of an ideological orientation designed to emphasize the elements of self management organization both as a form of state organization and as a component of society with its feature of a free community of producers.

Much more clearly than the Constitutional Act of 1953, the Constitution of SRM of 1963 established freely associated labor on the basis of social ownership over the means of production and the self-management of working people, as the bases for socio-economic organization of the country and for its political system. As a result, two innovations in the form and structure of the Assembly are significant. The Assembly was now defined as the highest organ of government and social self-government within the framework of the rights and obligations of the Republic. This definition categorically introduced the self-management into the system of political power and expressed the dualism between government and self-management in a way which was aimed not to make them oppose one another, but to bind them into a functional organic whole.

The definition of the Assembly provided the foundation for an essential change in its structure. Thus, it became multi-chamber body made up of five chambers: the Republic Chamber as the general political representative of the Republic as a whole; the Organizational-Political Chamber (which was later replaced by the Chamber of Communes) as the representative of the communes; and three chambers of working communities - the Economic Chamber, the Educational and Cultural Chamber and the Chamber of Social Security and Health, as representatives of workers in the working communities of the corresponding areas. The structure of commune and district assemblies was identical. Such a structure was aimed to broaden the representative base of the assemblies. In principle, the Assembly always reached decisions by means of the equal participation of two chambers, one of which was always the Republic Chamber, and the other was the chamber appropriate to the question. During this constitutional period the Executive Council retained its status as the executive political organ of the Assembly.

As regards the functions of the Republic, the process of de-concentration of the functions of the federation was continued, by means of the restriction of the area of authority of federal organs and extension of the rights and obligation of the Republic, as well as its increased participation in performing the duties of the federation. This process was partly result of the more explicit role of the republics in the federal system of Yugoslavia, and partly of the development of the system of self-management under which the areas of authority of state organs were significantly reduced.

The introduction of the constitutional judiciary was among the most important innovation in the political and legal system., which was aimed to promote and to protect the principle of rule of law. The Constitutional Court of Macedonia, in addition of evaluating the constitutionality of laws and constitutionality and legality of all other regulations passed by state and self-management agencies, was empowered to act in the defense of the right to self-management and other basic rights and freedoms, when it was not stipulated as a competence of other courts.

The Constitution of 1963 also significantly extended the rights and the equality of national minorities. First, the Constitution established the principle of equality of members of the national minorities (nationalities) living in Macedonia and declared that they had the same rights and duties in everything.

Several constitutional amendments were passed during this constitutional period in accordance with changes in the constitutional system of Yugoslavia. The major changes were made in the structure of the Assembly of SRM and the scope of its chambers (1969) and in the new position of the Republic as a results of changes in relations within the federation, the organization of associated labor in working organizations ant the working class in general (1972). All these amendments were incorporate into the Constitution of SRM of 1974.

The Constitution of SRM of 1974 was a result of several factors: first, the development of the concept of federalism and the position of republics and autonomous provinces and the extension of their sphere of authority and their direct participation in the running of federal organs; second, further implementation of the equality of nations and nationalities; and third, the system of production which was meant to enabled the working class to have a dominant position in society.

The essence of the innovation of the position and functions of the Republic as a state is expressed by the following elements: first, a significant reduction in the functions of the federation, and consequent extension in the functions and legislative jurisdiction of the republics; second, the transfer of a number of issues, as well as whole areas of relations, from the legislative function of the federation to the exclusive authority of the republics; and third, the establishment of the direct (through their assemblies) and indirect (through their representatives in the Assembly of SFRY) participation of the republics in the passing of federal statutes.

The Constitution of SRM of 1974 established the sovereignty of working people and the Macedonian nation and nationalities within the Republic. It confirmed the fact that the federation was not a super-national structure or and enforced state, but it was made up of nations and their republics and autonomous provinces.

One of the historical function of the Constitution of 1974 was to involve the self-management in all spheres of economic and political life in society. In fact, the self-management should have compensated the lack of political pluralism. The system based on the presence of the self-management in all the areas of economic and political life has, for a long period of time - until the end of 1980's, created and maintained the illusion that the processes of democratization could be developed and completed even without political pluralism.

Those changes also introduced qualitative innovations into the legal system of Yugoslavia, because, by affirming the republics, and to a certain extent the autonomous provinces, as constituent elements of the federation, they created objective conditions for the visible existence of two parallel and independent legal systems - that of the federation and those of the republics. The Constitution provided for various mechanism for ensuring the coordination between two different kinds of legal systems, but in practice they were more and more separated, which prepared the grounds for the dissolution of the federation in the beginning of 1990's.

With the Constitutional Amendments from April 1989 and September 1990, among other changes in economic relations and in the political system, significant improvement in the position of the Republic were made. It was for the first time in the common constitutional history in the framework of SFRY a republican constitution to be amended before the federal one. These constitutional amendments for the first time regulated the manner and the procedure of using the right to self-determination, including the separation from the federation. In the process of dissolution of Yugoslavia, those amendments were used as a legal and constitutional basis for this new self-determination of the Macedonian people.

In circumstances of turbulent relationships within the Yugoslav federalism and political system, in September 1990 great constitutional changes took place. For the first time the freedom of political associations was guaranteed and besides citizen, political parties were enabled to nominate candidates for representatives in the parliament. with those amendments the organization of the Republic was also changed. A one-chamber Parliament was introduced; the Presidency of the Republic, as a collective head of the state was abolished and instead it, the president of the Republic was introduced; the Executive Council was replaced by the Government, and the Secretariats were replaced by the ministries. In the political system the elements of parliamentary system were introduced and emphasized.

The constitutional history of Macedonia as a member of Yugoslav federation shows that its capacity of a state, similar to other republics, has never been questioned. On the contrary, that capacity was permanently increasing, especially after the constitutional amendments of 1971 and the Constitution of 1974 and which had a logical result, along with other republics, in the achieving the status of independent state since 1991.

3. Constitutional development of the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent state

At the end of 1980's and the beginning of 1990's, in a time of intensified economic, political, inter-ethnic and institutional crisis, more and more a dissatisfaction with the position of the republics within the Yugoslav federation were manifested. In such circumstances Macedonia found itself in opposition to a return to centralized federalism and in support to the ideas of looking for a new kind of relationships between states - members of the federation. Macedonia was on the position to support the ideas of the transformation of the federation into a community of sovereign states, which by mutual agreement would decide what are the common interests to be pursued together.

On November11th, 1990, for the first time in the history of contemporary Macedonian state, the first free and direct multi-party elections for representatives in the parliament were held.

When the process of dissolution of Yugoslavia appeared to be inevitable, the newly-constituted Assembly in January 1991 adopted the Declaration on the sovereignty of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. The declaration is both political and constitutional act. In its preamble, as one of the its legal basis the Article 1 of the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights of 1966, which guarantees the right of all nations to self-determination i.e. the right to determine freely its political status and its social, cultural and economic development, was directed as one of the legal bases for the Declaration. In such a way, the political decision of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia was provided with an international legitimacy.

On the basis of the Declaration on the sovereignty, the Assembly in august 1991 decided to issue a notice of a referendum on the future position of the Macedonian state. On the basis of the inalienable and inviolable right to self-determination, including the right to separation from the federation as a common state, the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia, in the referendum of September 8th, 1991, freely manifested their will to live in a sovereign and independent state. About 76% of citizens with the right to vote voted in the referendum. Among them 95% (or 72% of the total number of citizens with the right to vote) voted for constituting the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent state.

Due to the fact that the referendum has a consultative and not a compulsory character, on September 17th, 1991 the Assembly passed the Declaration on affirmation of the results of the referendum. Actually it was the decision that, on the basis of affirmation of the will of a great majority of citizens Republic of Macedonia expressed in the referendum, formally constituted the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent state.

The Declaration also proclaimed the basic principles of the policy of the Macedonian state in international relations, and especially towards neighboring countries. Among them the most important are the following: first, the respect for the generally accepted principles on international relations; second, the development of good relations and cooperation with all neighboring countries, as well as cooperation with all European and other countries in the world; incorporation in the processes of European integration and in the other form of regional cooperation; third, the respect for the principle of inviolability of the borders and non-having territorial aspirations against any neighboring country; and fourth, the policy founded on international norms on the recognition and respect for the fundamental human rights and freedoms, including rights and freedoms of Macedonians living as national minorities in the neighboring countries.

Two months later, on November 17th, 1991, the Assembly adopted the first Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent state. By adopting the new constitution, the process of getting a status of independent state has been brought to its end.

At the end of the year (December 19th, 1991) the Assembly adopted the Declaration on international recognition of the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent country. Based on the fact that Macedonia had already been established as a sovereign and independent state, along with the fact that SFRY as a federation had been dissolute and did not existed any longer, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, by the Constitutional Act of January 22nd, 1992, determined that the Republic of Macedonia should not participate any longer in the federal organs and decided to interrupt the term of offices of all members in those organs delegated from Macedonia. At the end of February 1991, an agreement with the Yugoslav Army was reached, according to which the Yugoslav Army left the territory of the Republic of Macedonia by March 27th, 1992. On April 8th, 1993 Macedonia became a member of the OUN, and later a member of numerous international organizations.

The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia of 1991 not so long after its adoption was amended. The Amendment I and the Amendment II to the Constitution were promulgated on January 6th, 1992, as addendum and as a replacement to Article 3 and Article 49 of the Constitution. The Amendment I declares that the Republic of Macedonia has no territorial pretensions towards any neighboring state and that the borders of the Republic of Macedonia can only be changed in accordance with the Constitution and on the principle of free will, as well as in accordance with generally accepted international norms. The Amendment II declares that in the exercise of this concern the Republic of Macedonia will not interfere in the sovereign rights of other states or in their internal affairs.

Those principles, as provided for in Article 3 and Article 49 and as amended by Amendment I and Amendment II, were later applied in the Interim Accord Between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece, signed on September 13th, 1995, as well in the Joint Declaration Between the Prime-minister of the Republic of Macedonia and the Prime-minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, signed on February 22nd, 1999. According to Article 6 of the Interim Accord and Item 11 of the Declaration, the Republic of Macedonia declared that nothing in its Constitution can or should be interpreted as constituting the basis of any claim to any territory not within its existing borders, nor the basis for interference in the internal affairs of another state in order to protect the status and rights of any persons in other states who are not citizens of the Republic of Macedonia.

The Amendment III to the Constitution was promulgated in 1998, under a strong pressure of the judiciary against the constitutional limitation of the maximum period of duration of the detention of 90 days. According to the criminal courts, that was an unrealistically high standard for protection of the person's freedom in cases of serious crimes. The results of the implementation of such a standard, which was unique in the contemporary constitutionalism, was that a great number of criminals having had committed the most serious crimes, due to the expiry of the maximum period of detention prescribed by the Constitution, were released from custody in order to defend themselves and they have never appeared before the courts. Because of that, the Constitution was amended for the third time in 7 years, in a way that the maximum duration of the detention was extended to 180 days after the accusation.


The contemporary Macedonian state which has existed for fifty five years is a historical reality which it is impossible to objectively negate. It is a creation of Macedonian people themselves, which, despite the negations of their national identity, created it trough their own struggle. The creation of the Macedonian state in the course of the People's Liberation and Anti-fascist War, the decisions of the First Session of ASNOM, the existence of the Republic of Macedonia as a member-state in the Yugoslav federation and its transformation into a sovereign and independent state as the highest achievement in the process of the realization of the national ideals has proved that Macedonia is not a temporary phenomenon, nor is it a creation of individuals or political forces outside Macedonia and the Macedonian people. It is a creation of its own national and political thought, of the programs of national liberation movement of the Macedonian people and their liberation struggle from the first instances of their awakening to the present time.

Sources and bibliography:

ASNOM - Dokumenti, tom I, kniga I, Izd. "Arhiv na Makedonija, Skopje, 1984

ASNOM - Documents, Vol. I, Book I, Achives of Macedonia, Skopje, 1984

ASNOM - Dokumenti, tom I, kniga III, Izd. "Arhiv na Makedonija, Skopje, 1987

ASNOM - Documents, Vol. I, Book III, Archives of Macedonia, Skopje, 1987

Ustav na Narodna Republika Makedonija od 1946

Constitution of the People's Republic of Macedonia of 1946

Ustav na Socijalisti~ka Republika Makedonija od 1963

Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia of 1963
Ustav na Socijalisti~ka Republika Makedonija od 1974

Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia of 1974
Ustav na Republika Makedonija od 1991

Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia of 1991
Deklaracija za Suverenost na Socijalisti~ka Republika Makedonija, Sobranie na SRM, Skopje, 25 januari 1991

Declaration on Sovereignty of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, Assembly of SRM, Skjopje, January 25, 1991
Odluka za samostojnost na Republika Makedonija, Sobranie na Republika Makedonija, 17 septemvri 1991

Declaration on Independence of the Republic of Macedonia, Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, September 17th, 1991
Deklaracija za megunarodno priznavawe na Republika Makedonija, Sobranie na Republika Makedonija, Skopje, 19 dekemvri 1991

Declaration on International Recognition of the Republic of Macedonia, Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, December 19th, 1991
ASNOM - Pedeset godini Makedonska dr`ava 1944-1994, Makedonska akademija na naukite i umetnostite, Institut za nacionalna istorija, Skopje, 1995

ASNOM - Fifty Years of the Macedonian State 1944-1994, Macedonian Academy of Science and Arts, Institut of National History, Skopje, 1995
Pet godini od Ustavot na Republika Makedonija, Zdru`enie za ustavno pravo na Makedonija, Skopje, 1998

Five Years of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, Constitutional Law Association of Macedonia, Skopje, 1998
Evgeni Dimitrov, ASNOM i integritetot na Makedonskiot narod, Zbornik na trudovi ASNOM vo sozdavaweto na dr`avata na Makedonskiot narod, MANU, Skopje 1987, str. 179-197

Evgeni Dimitrov, ASNOM and the Integrity of the Macedonial People, Compilation of works ASNOM in the Creation of the State of the Macedonian People, MANU, Skopje, 1987, pp. 179-197
Aleksandar Hristov, Sozdavawe na Makedonskata dr`ava 1893-1945, Izd. "Misla", Skopje, 1971

Aleksandar Hristov, Creation of the Macedonian State 1893-1945, Misla, Skopje, 1971
Svetomir [karik, Ustavno pravo, Kniga I, Union Trejd, Skopje, 1994

Svetomir Skaric, Constitutional Law, Book I, Union Trade, Skopje, 1994
Svetomir [karik, Ustavno pravo, Kniga II, Union Trejd, Skopje, 1995

Svetomir Skaric, Constitutional Law, Book II, Union Trade, Skopje, 1995
Svetomir [karik, Suverenitetot vo ustavnite dokumenti na Makedonija, Zbornik na Trudovi vo ~est na Aleksandar Hristov, Praven Fakultet, Skopje, 1996, str. 363-378

Svetomir Skaric, Sovereignty in the Constitutional Documents on Macedonia, Compilation of works in the honor of Aleksandar Hristov, Faculty of Law, Skopje, 1996, pp. 363-378
Georgi Tzatza, The Constitutional Development of the S.R. of Macedonia, Macedonian Review Editions, 1980
Novica Veljanovski, Dr`avnopravniot razvoj na Makedonija, Izd. Institut za nacionalna istorija, Skopje, 1992

Novica Veljanovski, Legal-state Development of Macedonia, Institut of National History, Skopje, 1992