News 11 Dec 12

Macedonia Lures Investors With Passport Offer

Macedonia has followed in the footsteps of neighbouring Bulgaria in offering citizenship to foreigners ready to invest in the country.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Macedonian government spokesperson, Aleksandar Gjorgjiev

Macedonia's government plans to offer citizenship to anyone who invests at least 400,000 euro and employs at least 10 people.

“This offer stands for all investors except those in the hospitality and trade sectors,” a government spokesperson, Aleksandar Gjorgjiev, said.

In addition, foreigners who buy real estate worth over 40,000 euros will be allowed the right to stay in the country for a year. Foreign nationals are currently allowed a maximum of three months stay before having to check out.

“Their prolonged stay in the country means that they will spend some of their wealth here,” Gjorgjiev said, expaining the thinking behind the move.

Macedonia, whose integration into NATO and the EU is blocked by Greece as a result of the bilateral dispute over Macedonia's name, is trying to reverse a sharp drop in FDI this year.

In the first nine months of 2012, the country attracted only 44 million euro in FDI, a fifth of the amount that was invested in the same period last year.

The government blames the drop on the global financial crisis, which has made outside investors hesitant and left local economy dry.

Data from the State Statistical office also show that over the same nine-month period this year, foreign companies operating in Macedonia sent 92 million euro out of the country to their countries of origin.

Obtaining Macedonian citizenship will arguably be less attractive than getting hold of a Bulgarian passport, as Bulgaria is already a member of the EU.

Bulgaria last month said it would grant citizenships to all who are willing to invest at least half a million euro in the country.

Montenegro, Romania and some other Balkan countries have also adopted such ideas, or are planning to do so.

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