Macedonia and Turkey will co-operate to "improve the living standards" of their citizens, officials in Ankara and Skopje say.
By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 23/09/13
Turkey's Minister of Labor and Social Policy Faruk Chelik said that citizens of Turkey feel "strongly connected" to Macedonia. [AFP]
Recently signed labour and employment agreements between Macedonia and Turkey will advance co-operation between the two countries and help to implement better health insurance, retirement and social security policies for the Macedonian and Turkish nationals, government officials said.
The new treaty, which also covers issues related to the employment rights and the eradication of child labour, amends an agreement signed 13 years ago. Officials on both sides said the goal is to provide better living conditions for the citizens through the sharing of experience in these fields.
"Co-operation will take place through the exchange of experiences and knowledge about the current situation in those areas, but also for strategic plans for the future, in order to find long-term solution to the problems and the quality of life for citizens of Turkey and Macedonia," Macedonia's Minister of Labour and Social Policy of Macedonia Dime Spasov told SETimes.
"We do not look on prosperity and stability of Macedonia differently from our country," Turkey's Minister of Labour and Social Policy Faruk Chelik said after the signing of the agreement in Ankara on September 5th. "[The] Turkish community in Macedonia is the one that is strongly connecting us with Macedonia. Turkey … with the signing of this protocol will become even closer to Macedonian people."
The agreement allows both countries to exchange documents and information regarding the legal regulation and their changes as well as experts in order to benefit from experiences from the other side.
According to Macedonia's Ministry for Labour and Social Policy, common agreement on social policies allows citizens of both countries to receive pensions, health and disability insurance in Turkey or Macedonia. For example, people who have achieved pension age in Republic of Macedonia, but live in Turkey, will receive pensions in Turkey under this agreement. According to the ministry, 155 people living in Turkey have already received pensions they were eligible in Macedonia.
Macedonia has signed social security agreements with 18 countries including Romania, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey and is in process with Kosovo.
Other Balkan countries also have social protection and security agreements.
According to Serbian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, in the field of social security and insurance, Serbia has signed agreements with Macedonia, BiH, Croatia and Montenegro.
"The existence of bilateral agreements that govern social insurance has multiple significance because of high turnover of labour force" among the countries in the region, since pension and disability insurance, insurance in cases of unemployment and child benefits are covered by these agreements, according to the ministry.
BiH has signed social security agreements with Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia, Turkey, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Hungary and England.
"On the basis of these agreements, persons, who are insured at the RS's Health Insurance Fund and other state funds in BiH, have the option to get the necessary health care paid by state," spokesperson of the RS's Health Insurance Fund Darija Filipovic Ostojic told SETimes. "In countries with which BiH has signed this agreement, our citizens can be cured in cases of a journey, education or employment."
Correspondents Ivana Jovanovic in Belgrade and Drazen Remikovic in Banja Luka contributed to this report.