Macedonia PM Hails Success of 'Baby Boom'
A government campaign aimed at enticing couples to have more children is bearing fruit, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said in a speech on September 8, Macedonia's Independence Day.
"Having a third child in the family is no longer a rarity. Slowly but surely it is becoming a hit, a fashion, something normal," Gruevski said.
The Prime Minister presented figures according to which, before the start of the campaign in 2008, the number of third-born children was 2,677, while last year it had risen by more than 100 to 3,715.
Gruevski said it was a success that last year the country marked some 23,670 births, compared to 22,940 in 2008.
"The government's measures are giving visible results and the effort was worth it, despite many being skeptical," Gruevski said.
In 2009, Gruevski's socially conservative government launched an attempt to boost the population accompanied by a media campaign, only to cross swords with the Constitutional Court.
In April 2009, the Court scrapped a provision in the child protection law that offered cash bonuses to mothers with more than one child on the grounds that it was discriminatory.
This was because it was only envisaged help for mothers living in mainly ethnic Macedonian areas with a lower than average birthrate.
But the campaign did not end there and after some legal amendments the drive to persuade Macedonians of the benefits of three or more children resumed.
In June 2013, amid protests by activists and in the absence of opposition parties, the ruling parties passed abortion legislation that critics said curbed women's right to choose by toughening the abortion approval procedures.
Macedonia's Prime Minister meanwhile remains embroiled in...