Turks in the Republic of Macedonia

Turks in Macedonia

On municipal level

On settlement level
Total population

(77,959 (2002 census)[1]

3.8% of total population)
Regions with significant populations
Sunni Islam Bektashism

Turks in the Republic of Macedonia, also known as Macedonian Turks, (Macedonian: Македонски Турци, Makedonski Turci; Turkish: Makedonya Türkleri) are the ethnic Turks who constitute the third largest ethnic group in the Republic of Macedonia.[1] According to the 2002 census, there were 77,959 Turks living in the country, forming a minority of some 3.8% of the population.[2] The community form a majority in Centar Župa and Plasnica.[1]

The Turkish community claim higher numbers than the census shows, somewhere between 170,000 and 200,000.[2][3] There are additionally roughly 100,000 Torbeš and some of them still maintain a strong affiliation to Turkish identity.[4]


Bitola in the 19th century

Ottoman era

Macedonia came under the rule of the Ottoman Turks in 1392, remaining part of the Ottoman Empire for more than 500 years up to 1912 and the Balkan wars.[5]

Modern era

Once the Ottoman Empire fell at the beginning of the 20th century, many of the Turks fled to Turkey. Many left under Yugoslav rule, and more left after World War II. Others intermarried or simply identified themselves as Macedonians or Albanians to avoid stigma and persecution.[2]

Population of Macedonian Turks according to national censuses[6]
Census Turks Total population of Macedonia % Turks
1913 Census 209,000[7] 1,082,902 19.3%
1948 Census 95,940 1,152,986 8.3%
1953 Census 203,938³ 1,304,514 15.6%
1961 Census 131,484 1,406,003 9.4%
1971 Census 108,552 1,647,308 6.6%
1981 Census 86,591 1,909,136 4.5%
1991 Census 77,080 2,033,964 3.8%
1994 Census 78,019 1,945,932 4.0%
2002 Census 77,959 2,022,547 3.9%

³ 143,615 gave Turkish, 32,392 gave Macedonian and 27,086 gave Albanian as their mothertongue.[8]

After 1953, a large emigration of Turks based on an agreement between the Republic of Turkey and Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia took place— around 80,000 according to Yugoslav data and over 150,000 according to Turkish sources.[6]


The Kuršumli Han is one of many Turkish landmarks in the Old Bazaar, Skopje


Macedonian Turks speak the Turkish language and secondly Albanian in the west and Macedonian in the east. Turkish is spoken with Slavic and Greek admixtures creating a unique Macedonian Turkish dialect.[9] However, Macedonian is also widely used amongst the community.[10]


According to the 2002 census, Turks make up 12% of the total Muslim population in Macedonia.[11]


Turkish population in Macedonia according to the 2002 census (Turkish majority in bold):

Municipality Turks
2002 Census[1]
% Turkish
Greater Skopje 8,595 1.7%
Gostivar 7,991 9.9%
Centar Župa 5,226 80.2%
Plasnica 4,446 97.8%
Radoviš 4,061 14.4%
Strumica 3,754 6.9%
Struga 3,628 5.7%
Studeničani 3,285 19.1%
Vrapčište 3,134 12.3%
Kičevo 2,998 5.3%
Debar 2,684 13.7%
Mavrovo and Rostuša 2,680 31.1%
Dolneni 2,597 19.1%
Ohrid 2,268 4.1%
Vasilevo 2,095 17.3%
Tetovo 1,882 2.2%
Resen 1,797 10.7%
Veles 1,724 3.1%
Bitola 1,610 1.8%
Valandovo 1,333 11.2%
Štip 1,272 2.7%
Bogovinje 1,183 4.1%
Prilep 917 1.2%
Karbinci 728 18.2%
Konče 521 14.7%
Tearce 516 2.3%
Bosilovo 495 3.5%
Dojran 402 11.7%
Čaška 391 5.1%
Pehčevo 357 6.5%
Demir Kapija 344 7.6%
Kočani 315 0.8%
Kruševo 315 3.3%
Kumanovo 292 0.3%
Vinica 272 1.4%
Negotino 243 1.3%
Sopište 243 4.3%
Mogila 229 3.4%
Makedonski Brod 181 2.5%
Kavadarci 167 0.4%
Lozovo 157 5.5%
Delčevo 122 0.7%
Berovo 91 0.7%
Sveti Nikole 81 0.4%
Petrovec 75 0.9%
Gradsko 71 1.9%
Bogdanci 54 0.6%
Demir Hisar 35 0.4%
Gevgelija 31 0.1%
Novaci 27 0.8%
Ilinden 17 0.1%
Kratovo 8 0.1%
Probištip 6 <0.1%
Jegunovce 4 <0.1%
Brvenica 2 <0.1%
Debarca 2 <0.1%
Kriva Palanka 2 <0.1%
Želino 2 <0.1%
Zelenikovo 1 <0.1%

National day

The Turks in Macedonia also have an own national day, the Day of Education in Turkish Language. By a decision of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia in 2007, December 21 became a national and non-working day for the Turkish community in the country.[12]


There are both radio and television broadcasts in Turkish.[13] Since 1945, Macedonian Radio-Television transmits one hour daily Turkish television programs and four and a half hours of Turkish radio programs.[14] Furthermore, the newspaper Birlik is published in Turkish three times a week.[14]


The Turks have 3 political parties in Macedonia: Turkish Democratic Party (Türk Demokratik Partisi - TDP), Turkish Movement Party (Türk Hareket Partisi - THP) and Turkish National Unity Movement (Türk Millî Birlik Hareketi - TMBH). There is also the Union of Turkish NGOs in Republic of Macedonia (Makedonya Türk Sivil Toplum Teşkilatlar Birliği - MATÜSİTEB).

The first political party of the Turks in Macedonia is the Turkish Democratic Party (TDP). Because of political and economic changes in Macedonia, the Turks, like other communities, have decided to get organized in order to protect and develop their political rights. As a result, a political association named the Turkish Democratic Union was established on 1 July 1990. The association identified its major goal to defend national and moral interests of the Turks in Macedonia and launched activities in this direction. Such developments allowed the Turks to transform their association into a political party. The transformation was completed on 27 June 1992, when the Turkish Democratic Union was renamed the Turkish Democratic Party at the second extraordinary congress under the leadership Avni Engüllü in Skopje. Since its establishment, TDP has been protecting the rights and interests of Turks in Macedonia.

Moreover, several people of Turkish origin serve in high-ranking levels of Macedonian politics. Furkan Çako from the Turkish Democratic Party (TDP) serves as Minister without Portfolio in the Macedonian government. In the parliament, the Turks are represented by Kenan Hasip, TDP leader, and Enes İbrahim (THP). In addition, Salih Murat, an ethnic Turk, is a member of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Macedonia.[15]


The first school in Turkish language in Macedonia was opened in 1944.[16] As of 2008 there were over 60 schools that offered lessons in Turkish. Turks have the right of education in Turkish for four years in East Macedonia. There are 264 teachers in these schools. There is a lycee in Gostivar and a technical college in Tetovo where students are trained in Turkish. Few quota is spared for Turkish students at universities in Skopje and Bitola. There are also private Turkish schools established by Turkish entrepreneurs. Macedonian Turks show great interest in these schools.

Notable people

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Turks in Macedonia.



Further reading

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