Turks in North 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

Turks in North Macedonia, also known as Turkish Macedonians and Macedonian Turks, (Macedonian: Македонски Турци, romanizedMakedonski Turci, Turkish: Makedonya Türkleri) are the ethnic Turks who constitute the third largest ethnic group in the Republic of North 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 forms 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

See also: Ottoman Vardar Macedonia

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] Ali Rıza Efendi - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's father comes from Kodžadžik,[6][7] in Centar Župa Municipality, where there is a memorial house.[8] There is a sizeable amount of Turkified Albanians in Ohrid who originate from the cities of Elbasan, Durrës and Ulcinj.[9] A significant part of the Muslim Albanian population of Kumanovo and Bitola was also Turkified during Ottoman rule.[10]

A sizeable part of the Turkish community in Prilep was of Albanian origin. Serbian historiographer Jovan Hadži-Vasiljević writes that:[11]

"Between Turks and Muslim Albanians who have lived in the city (Prilep), it is very difficult to distinguish, especially between the old families of the city. The Mohammedan Albanian families, as soon as they arrived in the city, merged with the Turks,..."

The Bulgarian researcher Vasil Kanchov wrote in 1900 that many Albanians declared themselves as Turks. In Skopje, Bitola, Resen, Ohrid, Struga, Tetovo and Gostivar, the population that declared itself Turkish "was of Albanian blood", but it "had been Turkified after the Ottoman invasion, including Skanderbeg", referring to Islamization. Jordan Ivanovi, professor at the University of Sofia, wrote in 1915 that Albanians, since they did not have their own alphabet, due to a lack of consolidated national consciousness and influenced by foreign propaganda, declared themselves as Turks, Greeks and Bulgarians, depending on which religion they belonged to. Albanians were losing their mother tongue in Bitola, Ohrid, Struga and Skopje. The researcher Dimitar Gađanov wrote in 1916 that Gostivar was populated by 4,000 Albanians "who were Turkified", 100 Orthodox Albanians and 3,500 Bulgarians, while the surrounding area was predominantly Albanian.[12]

German linguist Gustav Weigand describes the process of Turkification of the Albanian urban population in his 1923 work Ethnographie Makedoniens (Ethnography of Macedonia). He writes that in the cities, especially noting Skopje and Bitola, many of the Turkish inhabitants are in fact Albanians, being distinguished by the difference in articulation of certain Turkish words, as well as their clothing and tool use. They speak Albanian at home, however use Turkish when in public. They refer to themselves as Turks, the term at the time also being a synonym for Muslim, with ethnic Turks referring to them as Turkoshak, a derogatory term for someone portraying themselves as Turkish.[13]

Yugoslav 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]

During the Skopje communist party conference held on August 12-13 1945, Kemal Sejfula, a representative of the Turkish minority and future mayor of Skopje (1951-54), although himself of Albanian origin from Kaçanik, declared that: "In the cities there are some regroupings - differentiations between Turks and Albanians. As it is known that the great Serbian policy towards the Albanian masses was a policy of physical liquidations. While the policy towards the Turks - was more tolerant, for which a very large part of the Albanians became Turks - were assimilated."[14] A policy of Turkification of the Albanian population was employed by the Yugoslav authorities in cooperation with the Turkish government, stretching the period of 1948–1959. A commission was created to tour Albanian communities in Macedonia, visiting Tetovo, Gostivar, Debar, Kičevo, Struga, Kumanovo, Gjorče Petrov and Resen. Starting in 1948, six Turkish schools were opened in areas with large Albanian majorities, such as Tearce, Gorna Banjica, Dolna Banjica Vrapčište as well as in the outskirts of Tetovo and Gostivar. In 1951-52, a total of 40 Turkish schools were opened in Debar, Kičevo, Kumanovo, Struga, Resen, Bitola, Kruševo and Prilep.[15]

Contemporary analysis described cases of resistance to the Turkish schools in the Polog area, with Albanian speaking students and teachers refused to attend Turkish schools. In Tetovo, none of the native teachers wanted to give lessons in Turkish, so substitutes from Skopje were brought in instead. Another notable case happened in Gostivar, where a teacher from Banjica, who according to the committees analysis: "even though he was born in the same village and his mother tongue is Turkish, when the Turkish school was opened he refused to teach in Turkish and had asked to work in Albanian villages ...". Thus the Yugoslav committee characterized the local population as having adopted a "Greater Albanian political worldview". Resistance against the opening of Turkish schools was most prevalent in Tetovo and Gostivar. In 1952, on the night of Eid al-Adha, the local Tetovo political leader Mehmet Riza Gega distributed flyers imploring Albanian parents from sending their children to Turkish speaking schools. In Gostivar the nationalist activist Myrtezan Bajraktari was detained and interrogated by the Yugoslav secret police (UDBA). During his interrogation he stated he openly opposed the Turkish schools, and that he does so "just so Albanians can feel like patriots and not allow themselves to be Turkified."[16]

In the 1953 census, large portions of Albanians declared themselves as ethnic Turks:[17]

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.[18] Of the 203,087 Turks in Macedonia in 1953, 15.88% or 32,392 gave Macedonian as their mothertongue, and 13.28% or 27,086 gave Albanian as their mothertongue.[19]

Population of Macedonian Turks according to national censuses[18]
Census Turks Total population of North Macedonia % Turks
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%
The reconstructed house of Ali Rıza Efendi's family, in Kodžadžik, North Macedonia


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


See also: Turkish language

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.[20] However, Macedonian is also widely used amongst the community.[21] Per the 2021 census, 62,623 individuals declared Turkish as their mother tongue, compared to 70,961 declaring Turkish ethnicity.[22]


See also: Islam in the Republic of Macedonia

According to the 2002 census, Turks make up 12% of the total Muslim population in Macedonia.[23]


Turkish population in Macedonia according to the 2021 census (Turkish majority in bold):

Municipality Turks
2021 Census[1]
% Turkish
Greater Skopje 8,595 1.7%
Gostivar 7,597 12.71%
Centar Župa 2,899 77.93%
Plasnica 4,101 97.13%
Radoviš 4,013 16.64%
Strumica 3,927 7.85%
Struga 3,472 6.81%
Studeničani 3,231 14.71%
Vrapčište 3,099 15.62%
Kičevo 2,553 6.44%
Debar 2,733 17.73%
Mavrovo and Rostuša 1,555 30.8%
Dolneni 2,434 18.54%
Ohrid 1,831 3.56%
Vasilevo 2,251 21.33%
Tetovo 1,746 2.06%
Resen 1,457 10.14%
Veles 1,037 2.14%
Bitola 1,174 1.38%
Valandovo 1,412 13.44%
Štip 1,272 2.7%
Bogovinje 1,183 4.1%
Prilep 1,060 1.54%
Karbinci 857 25.06%
Konče 606 22.24%
Tearce 382 1.66%
Bosilovo 677 5.88%
Dojran 211 6.84%
Čaška 391 5.1%
Pehčevo 357 6.5%
Demir Kapija 376 9.95%
Kočani 315 0.8%
Kruševo 283 3.38%
Kumanovo 292 0.3%
Vinica 272 1.4%
Negotino 349 1.92%
Sopište 463 6.9%
Mogila 266 5.04%
Makedonski Brod 241 4.09%
Kavadarci 134 0.38%
Lozovo 203 8.97%
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%


Flag of Macedonian Turks
Flag of Skopje Turks

Since the 1960s, Macedonia Turks have migrated to several Western European countries. For example, there is approximately 5,000 Macedonian Turks in Sweden; around 90% (or 4,500) live in Malmö.[24] In 1973 they formed the Turkish-Swedish KSF Prespa Birlik football club.[24] There are also Turkish Macedonian communities in other European countries, including Austria,[25] Belgium,[26] Czech Republic,[25] Germany[27][25] Italy,[25] the Netherlands,[28] Slovakia,[25] and Switzerland.[27]

In addition, Turkish Macedonian communities have also been formed in North America. In 1960, the Macedonian Patriotic Organization reported that a handful of Turkish Macedonians in the United States "have expressed solidarity with the M.P.O.'s aims, and have made contributions to its financial needs."[29]

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.[30]


There are both radio and television broadcasts in Turkish.[31] Since 1945, Macedonian Radio-Television transmits one hour daily Turkish television programs and four and a half hours of Turkish radio programs.[32] Furthermore, the newspaper Birlik is published in Turkish three times a week.[32]


The Turks have 3 political parties in North Macedonia: Democratic Party of Turks (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).[33]

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.[33]

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 Ibrahim (THP). In addition, Salih Murat, an ethnic Turk, is a member of the Constitutional Court of North Macedonia.[33]


The first school in Turkish language in Macedonia was opened in 1944.[34]

Notable people

See also: List of Macedonian Turks

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Republic of Macedonia State Statistical Office 2005, 34.
  2. ^ a b c Knowlton 2005, 66.
  3. ^ Abrahams 1996, 53.
  4. ^ Skutsch, Carl (7 November 2013). Encyclopedia of the World's Minorities. Routledge. ISBN 9781135193881. Retrieved 19 August 2017 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Evans 2010, 11.
  6. ^ "Census of population and dwellings in Macedonia 2002" (PDF). p. 326. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  7. ^ [1] Archived 2016-11-26 at the Wayback Machine ATATÜRK'ÜN BABA SOYU (KIZIL OĞUZ veya KOCACIK YÖRÜKLERİ)
  8. ^ "Memorial house of Ataturk in Kodžadžik". Archived from the original on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2019-09-23.
  9. ^ Włodzimierz, Pianka (1970). Toponomastikata na Ohridsko-Prespanskiot bazen. Institut za makedonski jazik "Krste Misirkov". pp. 104–105. "Најстари староседелци во градот се неколкуте старински родови во Варош. Другите Македонци се доселени од селата покрај Охридското Езеро, од Коселска Долина, Струшко Поле, Дримкол, Дерарца, Малесија, Кичевско и други краишта од Западна Македонија. По 1949 год. се доселени и повеќе семејства од Егејска Македонија. Турците се населени овде во год. 1451-81. Има и доста турцизирани Албанци (од Елбасанско, Драч, Улцињ). Албанците инаку се дојдени во градот од околните села на југ и запад од Охридското Езеро. Има и православни Албанци дојдени од Поградец, Лин, Черава и Пискупија во II пол. на XIX век. Власите се доселувале најпрво од Москополе (од 1778 год.), Каваја (крајот на XVIII век), Мизакија, Елбасан и Ланга во Мокра (сред. на XIX век), од Г. Белица и Маловишта (Битолско) кон крајот на минатиот век. Доста голем дел од нив се иселиле во Трст, Одеса и Букурешт. Циганите се доселени од Поградечко, зборуваат албански (тоскиски).... Циганите веројатно се определиле како Шиптари или Турци."
  10. ^ Beqiri, Nazmi (2012). "QASJE E SHKURTËR MBI TË FOLMEN E KUMANOVËS". Studime Albanologjike. ITSH: 108.
  11. ^ Mustafa Ibrahimi. "SHQIPTARËT ORTODOKSË NË MAQEDONINË E VERIUT DHE DISA SHKRIME TË TYRE ME ALFABET CIRILIK". Gjurmime Albanologjike - Seria e shkencave filologjike 50:139-152."
  12. ^ Salajdin SALIHI. "DISA SHËNIME PËR SHQIPTARËT ORTODOKSË TË REKËS SË EPËRME". FILOLOGJIA - International Journal of Human Sciences 19:85-90.
  13. ^ BELLO, DHIMITRI (2012). "GUSTAV VAJGAND SI BALLKANIST DHE VEPRA E TIJ "ETNOGRAFI E MAQEDONISË"". Studime Albanologjike. ITSH: 107-108. Here I want to emphasize once again the fact that in cities, many so-called Turks, especially in Bitola and Skopje, are Albanians, which is also noticed by the emphasis they give to the articulation of Turkish words, such as. kàve instead of kave, mànda instead of mandà etc. In public they speak Turkish, while in families - Albanian; they call themselves "Turks", but in fact they mean Muhammadan, while the real Turks call them "Turkish ushak" (Turkish chimney). In the villages they are easily distinguished by the clothes, by the agricultural tools they use, by the carts (to the Anatolians the wheels are made of wooden washers). In all cases, the importance of Albanians in Northern Macedonia is greatly underestimated. It is difficult to give an accurate figure for their number due to the mix of population, so rightly many well-known countries, which are interested in this, express distrust of statistics. Since I have a trustworthy statistic like Cartes ethnographiques des vilayets de Selonique, Kossovo et Monastir, litographiées par i'Institut cartographique de Sofia, 1907, with some recent elaborations by Prof. Mladenov, as well as the corrections and additions, made under the care of Mr. Mit'hat bej Frashëri, will not hesitate to publish this material. "Of course, recent changes have not been reflected.
  14. ^ Lita, Qerim (2011). "HASAN BILALLI –NJË FIGURË E MADHE KOMBËTARE". Studime Albanologjike. ITSH: 179.
  15. ^ Lita, Qerim (2009). "SHPËRNGULJA E SHQIPTARËVE NGA MAQEDONIA NË TURQI (1953-1959)". Studime Albanologjike. ITSH: 75-82.
  16. ^ Lita, Qerim (2009). "SHPËRNGULJA E SHQIPTARËVE NGA MAQEDONIA NË TURQI (1953-1959)". Studime Albanologjike. ITSH: 82.
  17. ^ Lita, Qerim (2009). "SHPËRNGULJA E SHQIPTARËVE NGA MAQEDONIA NË TURQI (1953-1959)". Studime Albanologjike. ITSH: 90.
  18. ^ a b Ortakovski 2001, 26.
  19. ^ Muslim Identity and the Balkan State, Hugh Poulton,Suha Taji-Farouki, page 96-97, 1997
  20. ^ Minahan 1998, 173.
  21. ^ Abrahams 1996, 54.
  22. ^ 2021 census, municipality by mother tongue
  23. ^ Nielsen, Akgonul & Alibasic 2009, 221.
  24. ^ a b Widding, Lars. "Historik". KSF Prespa Birlik. Archived from the original on 20 July 2021. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  25. ^ a b c d e Kuzey Makedonya'daki Nüfus Sayımına Davet: Sonuçlar, Kuzey Makedonya'nın Kurucu Unsuru Türklerin Tapusudur, Tamga Türk, 2021, archived from the original on 20 July 2021, retrieved 21 May 2021, Furkan Çako, yurt dışında yaşayan Makedonya Türklerini, ülkedeki nüfus sayımına katılmaya ve kendilerini Türk olarak kaydettirmeye çağırdı. Diplomatımız, Twitter hesabından yaptığı çağrıda şu ifadeleri kullandı: Ülkemizde devam eden #NüfusSayımı2021 sürecine katılmak ve kaydınızı #Türk olarak gerçekleştirmek için yurtdışında yaşayan ve Türkiye, Slovakya, Çek Cumhuriyeti, Almanya, Avusturya, İsviçre, İtalya ve İsveç'te bulunan vatandaşlarımız aşağıdaki bilgilerden yararlanabilirler.
  26. ^ Rumeli Türkleri Brüksel'de Bir Araya Geldi, CHA Haberler, 2012, retrieved 9 May 2021
  27. ^ a b Turan, Ömer (2002), "Makedonya'da Türk Varlığı Ve Kültürü", Bilig Türk Dünyası Sosyal Bilimler Dergis, 3 (21–33): 23
  28. ^ Sag, Armand (2016), "De destinteresse in Nederland", Platform Dergisi (December 2016): 59, Officieel zijn ze met bijna 500.000 mensen aanwezig in Nederland, meer omdat Turken uit Bulgarije..., Griekenland..., Cyprus..., Macedonie... en bijvoorbeeld Turken die geen Turkse ntionaliteit meer habben of Turken uit Belgie en Duitsland die zich nu gevestigd hebben in Nederland. Hiermee zouden er bijna driekwart miljon tot een miljoen Turken in Nederland wonen.
  29. ^ Macedonians in North America: An Outline, Macedonian Patriotic Organization, 1960, p. 9
  30. ^ "Премиерот Никола Груевски во работна посета на Република Италија". Влада на Република Македонија. Retrieved 19 August 2017.
  31. ^ Knowlton 2005, 107.
  32. ^ a b Ortakovski 2001, 32.
  33. ^ a b c "Turks in Macedonia: current situation". The Politicon. 25 May 2016. Archived from the original on 30 March 2017. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  34. ^ "Contact Support". www.mia.com.mk. Retrieved 19 August 2017.


Further reading