The US State Department published its North Macedonia 2018 International Religious Freedom Report, in which, amongst the other things, it states: "The Orthodox Archbishopric of Ohrid (OAO) remained unable to register as a religious entity. In April the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rejected the government’s appeal of the court’s November 2017 ruling that the government had violated the OAO’s rights by refusing it registration."

The Report states: "As of the end of the year, both the OAO and the Bektashi Community registration applications were pending with Skopje Basic Court II." 

We inform both the domestic and the international public that also in mid-2019, the Orthodox Ohrid Archbishopric remains unregistered and is facing not minor obstacles by the authorities and the court, in fulfilling the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights, regarding its registration.

The US State Department, in regards to 2018, also highlights that: "In April the ECHR rejected the government’s appeal of its November 2017 ruling that the country had violated the OAO’s religious freedom, right of assembly, and freedom of thought and conscience, by refusing to formally register it as a separate religious group. In 2017, the ECHR stated the government had violated the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which includes an obligation to act in a neutral and unbiased manner towards religious groups."

The Report also states that: "According to various university professors, NGO leaders, and legal and political analysts, religious differences continued to play a role in criminal and civil court cases. The OAO accused the government of bias against it. In July the OAO said police limited OAO Archbishop Jovan Vraniskovski’s freedom of movement by seizing his passport without explanation while he tried to cross the border into Greece. The OAO said the action showed religious persecution by the government and “discrimination characteristic of countries lacking rule of law.” In August Vraniskovski filed complaints with the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance and the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment over the issue, as well as the Council of Europe’s Directorate General on Human Rights and Rule of Law. In August he sent an open letter to the interior minister saying he needed to go abroad for medical treatment. The OAO said authorities returned Vraniskovski’s passport in September without explanation. Vraniskovski had been convicted in February 2017 for money laundering, which OAO considered to be a result of government bias."

The report also underlines that smaller religious organizations continued to state the government did not treat them as equals of the five religious organizations recognized in the constitution. For example, they stated the government did not grant them the same level of access to government officials. The OAO said that, as an unregistered community, it often faced discrimination and intimidation.


Source: https://www.state.gov/reports/2018-report-on-international-religious-freedom/north-macedonia/