North Macedonian citizens rush to get new passport before deadline

Thousands of North Macedonian citizens risk being unable to leave the country or return home after 12 February.

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Citizens of North Macedonia queued at police stations this weekend in an attempt to get their new passports.

On Monday, the validity of old ones, which do not say the word “North”, will expire.

While old IDs will remain valid at home, the delay in issuing passports threatens to affect citizens’ movements, restricting their travel and preventing those that are abroad after 12 February from returning home.

“It is physically impossible to issue all the documents by the deadline. The very printing and issuing of the passports poses the biggest problem, and it can only be lessened with better organisation and management,” the newly appointed technical Interior Minister, Pance Toshkovski, said.

At the current pace of issuing some 50,000 passports per month, he estimated that it would take another full year after the deadline for the process to be completed.

The name dispute harks back to ancient history, because both present-day North Macedonia and northern Greece were part of a Roman province called Macedonia.