Фото: Порталб.мк/Фисник Џелили

We should do more in North Macedonia if we want to lower the number of young people that are fleeing the country. I think we don’t have problems when it comes to creating strategies for solving this problem, but the implementation has been lacking, said Meta.mk’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief Bojan Blazhevski, speaking at the “The economic migration and brain drain” session at the POINT Conference in Sarajevo, informs Portalb.mk.

Reflecting on the latest Westminster Foundation for Democracy’s study about North Macedonia, Blazhevski said that for the third consecutive year, the results are the same, and 60% of the young people want to emigrate, 27% said that if they leave, they don’t want to return, and 37% have stated that the chances are slim to return once they emigrate.

“The main problem is that every citizen is important and if they want to live abroad, that is a big problem. Today it is very difficult to find a plumber in Skopje, since most of them went abroad, in Europe. I think we have no problems with our strategies, we can construct strategies, but the activities that are proposed in the strategies aren’t always implemented,” Blazhevski pinpointed.

He also said that the state doesn’t actually have a clear strategy what it should do.

“Somehow, and this is my viewpoint, we are running behind them, especially behind the medical workers. We are trying to increase their salaries or improve the working conditions, but there will always be a lack of resources and funds. You can do that in a period of 4 to 5 months and then the efforts to raise doctors’ salaries are futile, since Germany can always offer more,” Blazhevski said.

He stressed North Macedonia’s problem with the medical professionals emigrating, and he called upon the results of the pol conducted by the Doctor’s Chamber of North Macedonia in 2019. Almost 12% of the licensed doctors have emigrated. The average age of these doctors is around 40 years, so in the period when they can replace the older doctors who are going to retire, they are simply moving abroad, e.g., to Germany.

Blazhevski, among the other things, stressed that the problem with the migrations was evidenced with last year census, and the results are bad, since the country has lost 9.2% since the last census conducted 20 years ago i.e. from the year 2001.

“We have lost 185,000 people which is a lot for North Macedonia. Maybe this number will not be a big problem for the larger countries, but, if we take into account the number of the people who live in the second and the third most populated city in Macedonia after Skopje, that number will be around 185.000 people. We have lost a large portion of our population and I think this is a very big problem for smaller countries. This especially refers to the intellectuals and those that are working in the health sector. I would say that the average age of the population is around 40 years and we have 638,000 people younger than 29 years of age, which is 34% of the total population,” Blazhevski noted.

Apart from the emigration, Blazhevski also pinpointed the problem of the people from other cities in North Macedonia moving to Skopje.

“Skopje has a record number of people, like never before. In the city itself, there are 526,000 people and, counting the suburbs, there are around 600,000 people in total which is a large number compared to the number of citizens two decades ago. The people aren’t just moving abroad ,but people from smaller cities are moving to Skopje. Basically, 1/3 of the population lives in Skopje and if we count the surrounding cities such as Tetovo, Kumanovo, and Veles which are located at a distance of 50 km from Skopje, in this part of the state there are 850,000 people,” Blazhevski.

Other people at the panel discussion stressed this problem in their countries such as Jasmin Hasić – International Relations Professor and Executive Director of Humanity in Action-Bosnia and Hercegovina, Andrea Mičanović – Analyst at the Center for Democracy and Human Rights – Montenegro; Gordana Radojević – President of the Association of Statisticians and Demographers of Montenegro.

The conference can be seen at the following link:

Apart from Blazhevski, Portalb.mk’s Editor-in-Chief Elida Zilbeari and Truthmeter.mk’s Editor-in-Chief Vladimir Petreski. also spoke on different subjects.

The POINT conference is organized by members of the ACTION SEE network, Metamorphosis Foundation being one of its members.