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Fitch affirms Macedonia at 'BB+'

26. March 2012. | 09:27

Source: MIA

 Fitch Rating Agency assigns 'BB+' to Macedonia with a stable outlook, according to agency's rating at its website.

Fitch Rating Agency assigns 'BB+' to Macedonia with a stable outlook, according to agency's rating at its website.

- Political risks, including the name dispute and resulting delay in EU accession talks, are a constraint on the rating. Resolution of the name dispute that opened the path towards EU membership, with its attendant benefits such as stronger institutions and policy frameworks, better access to financing, investment and export markets, could support a positive rating action, if accompanied by sufficient economic growth, Fitch analysis reads .

EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule and Macedonian Premier Nikola Gruevski began the high-level dialogue last week. The start of a high-level dialogue with the European Union would be positive for Macedonia if it revives momentum towards official accession negotiations, Fitch Ratings says.

According to Fitch, the benefits of embarking on formal accession talks with a clear timetable for accession would be twofold. First, the process could help cement existing reforms that enhance Macedonia's business environment. Macedonia has risen to 22nd in the World Bank's 2012 "Ease of Doing Business" table, from 34th in 2011, but reforms may have shallow roots and are taking a long time to filter down to the lower reaches of public administration, Fitch Ratings says.

Second, reviving the move towards accession talks could help secure political stability in the country. In the past, the shared goal of EU membership has helped bind Macedonia's ethnic Macedonian majority and ethnic Albanian minority together.

Fitch noted that further delays in the EU accession process could undermine inter-ethnic relations, as the Albanian minority does not share the intransigent stance taken by the ethnic Macedonians on the dispute with Greece about Macedonia's constitutional name.

We therefore still think it unlikely that a mutually acceptable settlement will be found in the short term. Despite renewed UN efforts to re-launch talks on the issue, neither Greece nor Macedonia have so far shown willingness to compromise. But if the high-level dialogue results in progress on other issues relating to accession, it could increase pressure on Macedonia and Greece to reach an agreement on the name dispute, Fitch Ratings says.


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