The Spirit of the Internet in the Balkans and the Enactment of the Macedonian Academic and Research Network

Barton Thurber
University of San Diego, USA

Iskra Djonova-Popova
Macedonian Academic and Research Network, Macedonia


The proliferation of computer networking as a principal resource of information exchange in the world has led to the creation of a national academic and research network in Macedonia, MARNet. The primary goals of MARNet are (1) to include the educational and scientific community in the international web of academic and research networks, and (2) to produce a cohesive and consistent network architecture to present the results of science, technology, education, and culture that are of interest to the international networks.

In September 1992, a steering committee was set up to work on the formation of a national academic and research network. MARNet became a founding member of CEENet (Central and Eastern Networking Organization), which proved to be instrumental in providing financial and technical support to the newly established network. Later, MARNet became a member of EARN, a membership transferred in 1995 to TERENA. On 15 June 1995, full Internet connectivity was established in Macedonia.

The low level of network literacy, the general political and economic situation in states that emerged from the former Yugoslavia, the monopoly of the national PNO, and very little will for volunteer effort, have been the main obstacles to the development of the Internet-style network in Macedonia. These were overcome by unqualified support from ACONet (via CEENet), participation of the people who worked on the MARNet project, and the Internet workshops sponsored and organized by the Internet Society. In fact, these workshops have unequivocally propagated the spirit of the Internet in the majority of developing countries.

The cardinal responsibilities of MARNet are:

The open-access policy, in the spirit of the academic tradition, is the essential characteristic of the MARNet ideology. Of course, the liberal policy is accompanied by strict enforcement of ethical standards and mechanisms to preserve network integrity.

The members of the network are the only two universities in Macedonia, Skopje and Bitola, the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, a large number of independent and corporate research facilities and institutions, and the government ministries and agencies. The network is run by a seven-member executive board and a council that sets and guides the general and global policies of the network. The official languages are Macedonian and English. The financing, which for now includes international help, is supposed to be provided by the government and an experimental commercial segment.

MARNet is still in its inception phase, and there is much work yet to be done. The interest in the network so far has been the most rewarding component of the endeavor. Once MARNet's operations become more stable, there is talk of creating a Balkan academic and research network.