North Macedonia - annual report 2019

EU Twinning Project: “Building of the Institutional Capacity of the Investigative Centres“: Ljubomir Joveski, Chief Prosecutor of North Macedonia, giving his speech during the project kick-off event in Skopje (Photo: Tomislay Georgiev)
EU Twinning Project: “Building of the Institutional Capacity of the Investigative Centres“: Ljubomir Joveski, Chief Prosecutor of North Macedonia, giving his speech during the project kick-off event in Skopje (Photo: Tomislay Georgiev)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The Stabilisation and Association Agreement between North Macedonia and the EU entered into force in April 2004 and the country has possessed the status of an EU accession candidate since December 2005. Between 2015 and May 2017, North Macedonia experienced a major political crisis after tens of thousands of wire-tapping protocols surfaced, leading to a wave of mass protests. After a change of government and the settlement of the name dispute with Greece in 2019, the country hoped to start accession negotiations with the EU soon, but this was thwarted by France‘s veto. In response, the current governing coalition announced early elections to be held in the course of 2020.

Overall Concept

IRZ commenced its activities in North Macedonia in 2000 in the context of the Stability Pact for South-East Europe and increased them considerably in the second half of the decade. Partners to IRZ in North Macedonia are the Ministry of Justice, the Constitutional Court, the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors, the Government‘s Agent for the ECHR, the non-governmental organisation “Institute for Democracy“ and academics from the Faculty of Law in Skopje. In recent years, IRZ has also expanded the target group of its activities on the ground and their sustainability by means of law publications in the country’s language. It has also been possible to resume legislative advice measures, as contacts with the Ministry of Justice, which had experienced staff reorganisation, were quickly established after the formation of the government in 2017.

IRZ reacted immediately to the second critical EU-analysis of the Macedonian legal system. Since then, it has increasingly promoted the next generation of legal professionals with measures that focus on judicial independence and effective case management. These events were financed with project funding from the Federal Foreign Office.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Expert meeting at the Constitutional Court on the possible content of a constitutional court law that does not yet exist in North Macedonia
  • Workshop on the significance of the constitutional complaint as well as on the legal procedures and organisational requirements for its introduction into the law of North Macedonia
  • Participation of two judges of the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia in the conference organised with the Montenegrin Constitutional Court “Separation of powers and balance between the powers“ in Podgorica
  • Participation of judges at the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia in the regional Constitutional Court Conference on “Freedom of religion in case-law before the Constitutional Court“ in Teslić, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Publication of the eighth newsletter entitled “Current information on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights in relation to North Macedonia” in the Macedonian and Albanian languages, in cooperation with the Macedonian Government Agent for the ECHR
  • Workshop “Introduction of constitutional complaint in Macedonia“ with the non-governmental organisation “Institute for Democracy“
  • Co-publication of a policy paper on constitutional complaints together with the non-governmental organisation „Institute for Democracy“
  • Expert discussion and exchange of experience between a former Macedonian judge at the European Court of Human Rights with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, the Federal Foreign Office and the Institute for Eastern Law in Regensburg

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Further training seminars at the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors “Pavel Shatev“ in Skopje:
    • “Application of the Law on Protection against Harassment at Work/Mobbing and the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination“
    • “The civil liability of lawyers from the perspective of German jurisdiction“

Administration of Justice

  • Preparation of expert reports for the Ministry of Justice
    • on the draft law on administrative procedures
    • on the draft law on regulatory offences
    • on the question of requirements for the introduction of a comprehensive constitutional complaint within Macedonian law
  • Further training seminars at the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors “Pavel Shatev“ in Skopje:
    • “The role of the Presidents of the Courts as heads of authorities in administration, management, organisation and staff management“
    • “Management and organisation of the work of public prosecutors and staff“
  • Operation and expansion of the website on European law
  • Dissemination of specialist journals on IRZ project work in relevant languages

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Start of consultations by the newly established expert group on reform of the Criminal Code
  • Publication of a translation of the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) as a book with a professional introduction

Basic and Further Training

  • Working visit to Germany by young judges and public prosecutors on judicial practice in Germany as part of the project “Promotion of young legal professionals in North Macedonia“
  • Participation of legal professionals from North Macedonia in the second regional workshop “News from German law“ for German-speaking alumni from the states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia in Belgrade
  • Popularisation of German and European law by supporting the Skopje faculty of law, the Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors “Pavel Shatev“ and the Institute for Democracy in Skopje with relevant literature

Projects funded by the European Union

EU Twinning Project: Building of the Institutional Capacity of the Investigative Centres

Since May 2019, IRZ has been heading the EU Twinning Project for the establishment of Investigative Centres at the Public Prosecutor‘s Offices in North Macedonia. The junior partner in the 24-month project with a budget of €1 million is the Croatian Ministry of Justice. In line with current reform efforts by the Government of North Macedonia, the project aims to support the national authorities in the fight against organised crime and corruption and to strengthen their competencies by establishing joint Investigative Centres at the Public Prosecutor‘s Offices in Skopje, Kumanovo and Tetovo. Here, the key components are:

  • improvement of organisational structures and workflows,
  • further training of the staff at the Public Prosecutor‘s Offices, the police, customs authorities and the financial police,
  • networking between government authorities,
  • intensification of cooperation between government authorities at national and international level.

Over the first six months, project experts were able to collaborate with their Macedonian partners to conduct preliminary analyses of the situation on the ground and to outline the legal framework for the future centres. Cooperation agreements were prepared with the national authorities and ministries involved and consultations were held on the staffing and technical equipment for the Investigative Centres. Procedural rules for the establishment and operation of these centres will be developed as the project proceeds. The project experts are also expected to use specific further training measures to develop the investigative skills in relevant fields and hence to promote effective national and international cooperation in the long term.

The project is thematically connected to the EU Twinning Light Project “Strengthening the capacities of the authorised bodies for fight against crime“ (see below), which was also carried out by IRZ in 2019. It draws on the results of this project and will continue the successful cooperation with the trained investigators.

EU Twinning Light Project: Strengthening the capacities of the authorised bodies for fight against crime

IRZ brought the EU Twinning Light Project to a successful conclusion on 22 November 2019. The project was carried out in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice and the Public Prosecutor‘s Office of North Macedonia and completed in just eight months. All key objectives in the area of the application of special investigation measures were achieved, including an assessment and analysis of the criminal procedural law, the Criminal Code and the Law on Classified Information. In several meetings and roundtable discussions, German experts exchanged views on the existing problems with Macedonian representatives of the Public Prosecutor‘s Office, the financial police, customs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and developed recommendations for legislative amendments.

The second pillar in the project focused on training the staff of the beneficiary institutions. Two German public prosecutors developed a training programme for this purpose, which was subsequently applied by Macedonian trainers in ten two-day training seminars. Over 100 representatives of Macedonian Public Prosecutor‘s Offices were trained in this way, with the support of public prosecutors from Germany and Austria.

A group of investigators from North Macedonia travelled to Germany in October 2019 to acquire insight into the practical side to applying specific investigation measures, during which they met for discussions with the Public Prosecutors‘ Office in Düsseldorf (Department for Organised Crime and White-collar Crime), the Local Court and Regional Court and the State Office of Criminal Investigations in North RhineWestphalia. The project therefore made a significant contribution to North Macedonia‘s reform efforts in view of possible EU accession negotiations.

EU Twinning Project: Strengthening of the penitentiary system and the probation service

IRZ has been carrying out this project with its Dutch junior partner, the Center for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), since the end of August 2018. The plan is to develop a probation system within 21 months and to improve cooperation between state institutions and nongovernmental organisations in the area of probation and resocialisation. Proposals are also being developed to strengthen the capacities of the DES (Directorate for Execution of Sanctions) and other relevant actors in the penitentiary system, as well as criteria and procedures for the maintenance of existing and newly constructed correctional facilities.

Cooperating closely with the DES in the Ministry of Justice of North Macedonia, training programmes for managers in the DES as well as in penitentiary institutions were drawn up and applied in training seminars during 2019. In addition, the project experts and their Macedonian partners developed appropriate standard operating procedures and monitoring methods in line with international standards and European practice.

A high-ranking delegation from the Ministry of Justice, the DES and penitentiary institutions in North Macedonia visited judicial institutions in Berlin. The priority of the study trip was to visit a variety of penitentiary institutions and to exchange information and experience with senior management within the Berlin penitentiary system, judicial administration and various specialist services. There are plans for another study visit to Berlin and to continue the training measures for the staff of the Macedonian penitentiary system until the end of the project in May 2020. In addition, new treatment programmes for juvenile detainees are being drafted and programmes revised so that they can then be introduced in practice.


In North Macedonia, IRZ will become more involved in the planned judicial reform, particularly in the area of legislative advice, in order to strengthen the EU Strategy for the Western Balkans. Moreover, IRZ will remain committed to the country within the framework of EU projects. The established measures of basic and further training to improve application of the law are scheduled to continue. Moreover, IRZ intends to strengthen its cooperation with the Constitutional Court.