Macedonia Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022
Basic data
Capital Skopje
Population 2.08 million
Language Macedonian
Religion Christianity, Islam
State system parliamentary democracy
Head of State President Stevo Pendarovski
Head of government Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski
Currency name Denar (MKD)
Travel
Time shift it isn’t
Economy
Nominal GDP (billion USD) 13.8
Economic growth (%) 4.3
Inflation (%) 1.6
Unemployment (%) 16.4

Since 1991, the Republic of North Macedonia has been one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, which is located in the Western Balkans. It is a standard functioning parliamentary democracy with a unicameral Parliament. As of March 2020, the country is one of the members of NATO, and is also in talks about membership in the EU. The economy is highly integrated into international trade. Before the pandemic period, it grew by an average of 3%, and according to estimates, it will return to similar growth after the pandemic. The gray economy is strongly represented in North Macedonia, so the official relatively high (around 20%) unemployment figures cannot be taken as telling. Inflation has been stable for a long time and the biggest problem is a country with a lack of capital due to a relatively strict system of employing foreigners, significant investments do not flow into the country, rather it is always acquisitions of already existing companies and possibly their expansion.

Although the political situation is currently stable, however, if the country fails to integrate into the EU, which would also bring investments and subsidies from the EU, then if the economic situation and living standards of the population do not improve, we can expect a deepening of the trenches between the majority professing Orthodoxy and the approx. 25% minority Muslims, who already in history sought to separate the western part of North Macedonia and its connection with Albania. Most of the approximately 2 million inhabitants live in the capital Skopje (including suburbs of approx. 1 million inhabitants), which also houses all important state institutions.

In communication with Macedonians, it is always necessary to take into account a more flexible Balkan perception of time, as well as longer business negotiations, which are preceded by at least a closer acquaintance on a human level. It is common to address each other by name after the first meeting.

Cultural and business negotiations

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public Holidays

Introduction

Macedonians are friendly, hospitable people who like a less formal atmosphere. In their world, time usually passes more slowly, so it is often necessary, if we want something from them, to keep an eye on things and once in a while check what stage the matter is at. It is probably best to take the Macedonian partner to a restaurant or cafe after a formal meeting in the office, where we can ask other, even more pressing questions in a relaxed atmosphere. It is necessary to distinguish whether it is an Orthodox Macedonian or an Albanian Muslim. Both ethnicities treat foreigners kindly and humanely, but it is necessary to know the specifics related to both religions. It is also good to know the national holidays that are associated with them and which are celebrated much more prominently here than in the Czech Republic.

Addressing

The Macedonians will either try to offer to tickle from the sidelines, or they will start to tickle on their own. They usually seem friendly and carefree and can be very hospitable. Meetings, with exceptions, are not very formal. It is possible to contact the partner both by phone and by e-mail. It is best to send an email and if there is no answer, then call in a few days.

Business meeting

In most business negotiations, you will notice the Balkan specifics. If a Macedonian partner ignores a question, request, or offer, it is usually an expression of disinterest and an apology is not considered necessary. Negotiations (with Czech entities) are conducted in a very welcoming spirit, sometimes with an accent on Pan-Slavicness. Compared to Czech customs, business meetings are longer, usually open-ended and often require considerable patience. Negotiations are rarely concluded after the first meeting, rather negotiations can be expected in stages. Discussion of the issue is often continued during a working lunch or dinner.

Communication

Having a local person who knows the processes and has good contacts is very beneficial, save unnecessary waiting in institutional processes. When meeting for the first time, it is common to address them by their last name. If the first meeting goes well, the formalities slowly disappear and the conversation takes on a more relaxed tone. Punctuality is not always common in North Macedonia and it is necessary to know when and where it does not matter and on the contrary it can be expected. Being 15 minutes late usually does not mean that the partner was not on time. The first 20 minutes of the meeting are filled with classic small talk together with sipping coffee or tea, and only later do we move on to more important topics. Macedonian traders in most cases prefer the native language (Macedonian or Albanian). Due to its historical roots (former Yugoslavia), Serbo-Croatian can also be used for conversations. English is widespread among the younger generation, German for ethnic Albanians. Verbal communication between the Macedonians themselves, but also with foreign partners, is accompanied by lively gesticulation. To avoid tactlessness that could arise in a similar situation, it is better to agree in advance and rather accept the habits of the (domestic) host. Otherwise, Macedonians (regardless of ethnicity) are famous for their hospitality. Visit Aparentingblog for more information about Macedonia culture and traditions.

Recommendation

Respect the local customs and rules related to the culture and religion of North Macedonia. Food cannot be rushed in North Macedonia, it takes a long time to have a conversation. Strong black coffee must not be missing at breakfast. Regardless of nationality, time has a completely different value in North Macedonia than it does in Central Europe. Macedonian partners are often not punctual. Delays in arriving at an agreed meeting are in most cases mutually tolerated. It is also necessary to watch out for people who, at the very first meeting, present who they know and who they are friends with. This is often not true, and it is necessary to check at least some of the claims to be sure, so that you do not run into a fraudster or someone who wants huge sums for mediating contact and business.

Public Holidays

MK public holidays:

May 24 – St. Cyril and Methodius – Day of the Slavic Evangelists (the beginning of their Moravian mission is celebrated)

August 2 – Republic Day – anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising against the Turks

8 September – Independence Day – the day of the 1991 independence referendum.

October 11 – National Insurrection Day (World War II)

October 23 – Day of the Macedonian Revolutionary Struggle

December 8 – St. Clement of Ohrid (pupil of Cyril and Methodius)

Days off (holidays):

January 1 – New Year

January 7 – 1 Christmas (Orthodox)

Orthodox Easter – moving holiday, usually about a month later than in the Czech Republic, Friday and Monday are always free

May 1 – Labor Day Ramazan Bajram – Muslim holiday (end of Ramadan)

Religious holidays (free depending on whether you follow a given religion):

January 6 – Christmas Day (Orthodox)

January 19 – “Vodici” – Epiphany Day (Orthodox)

August 28 – Assumption of the Virgin Mary

November 1 – All Saints Day Remembrance of the Dead – floating holiday (Orthodox),

December 25 – Christmas (Catholic)

Kurban Bayram – The Moving Feast (Muslim)

Macedonia Culture of Business