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Global Leadership, Neighbourhood and relations with Bulgaria

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The report is composed of sections on global leadership, relations with the neighboring countries and relations with Bulgaria. 
In terms of global politics, the citizens hold the best opinion towards Germany and U.S., followed by Switzerland, Turkey and Albania. Turkey, Serbia, USA, Germany and Albania are the five friendliest countries to Macedonia. China ranks as sixth, while Russia as ninth. Among the first 15 ranks are all Macedonia’ neighbouring countries. Turkey, Serbia, USA, Germany and Slovenia are the five best allies of Macedonia. Majority of the citizens, as a country for which they hold most positive attitude or consider as Macedonia’s best ally, have chosen NATO-member states, which is a confirmation for the Euro-Atlantic orientation. 
Great majority of the citizens consider the relations with the neighbouring countries as important for Macedonia. The current relations are evaluated with a positive zero i.e. 0.11 on a scale of -5 to 5. Out of the five Macedonia’s neighbouring countries, citizens perceive Serbia as a friendliest neighbour, followed by Albania, while Greece is perceived as the most unfriendly neighbour. One out of five respondents thinks that there are no friendliest country among the neighbouring countries. Views on Serbia and Albania as friendliest neighbour differ between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians. Asked about each neighbour separately, Macedonian citizens have the following perception on the friendly or neutral behaviour: Serbia (87.1%), Albania (71.3%), Kosovo (64.4%), Bulgaria (53.4%) and Greece (7.95%). 
Citizens perceive that in the last five years there has been greatest improvement in the relations with Serbia and Albania while one out of five respondents thinks that there is no improvements in the relations with any neighbour. Ethnic Macedonians have best personal experiences with Serbia, most knowledge about Serbian history and culture and most positive attitude towards Serbia (52%), while ethnic Albanians for Albania. Majority of citizens wish for equally good relations with all neighbouring countries, followed by a desire for closest relations with Serbia and Albania. 
Respondents perceive history (30%) and its different interpretation (20.9%), followed by national politicians (12%) and their petty political interests, as greatest obstacles for more intensive cooperation between Macedonia and Bulgaria. Public and informed persons find the bad infrastructural connection as an equal obstacle, while ethnic Albanians stress the cultural differences (21.5%). Great majority find that is important that the relations/cooperation with Bulgaria is improved. 
For improving the relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria, citizens consider the following three areas to be of greatest importance: cooperation in culture, entertainment and sports; improvements in the infrastructure and border crossings and access to the media in both countries. There is a low perception for common historical figures. The citizens consider as Macedonians many historical figures who are also placed by Bulgaria in its historical heritage; such are St. Cyril and Methodius, St. Clement, Goce Delchev, Jane Sandanski etc. Higher perception for common figures have the public and informed persons who consider St. Cyril and Methodius and King Samuel as such. 
Great majority support reciprocal solution for the issue of the appropriate minorities in Macedonia and the Macedonian minority in Bulgaria through a good-neighbourly relation agreement. Concluding an agreement for good-neighbourly relations is of great importance for Macedonian citizens and they wish it could be done in very near future, still they expect that this could happen in a medium term. Great majority of the citizens of Macedonia expect Bulgaria to support Macedonia in its EU integrations.

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