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Political Academy in North Macedonia: ”Great time, acquaintances and experience’’  

Kalevi Sorsa Foundation has supported democracy in the Western Balkans since 2008. Political Academies are training programs that aim to strengthen the voice and capacities of socially and politically active youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and Albania. In this blog post, Ana, 28 from North Macedonia writes about her experience from the Political Academy´s first module held this May.

Hi guys, my name is Ana. I come from Vinica which is a small town in the Republic of North Macedonia. I’m a 28-year-old social democrat and I work in the Municipality of Vinica.  

I use a big part of my spare time for political activism and social media public relations (PR). My granddad was the founder of Communists in our town, so I guess politics is in my blood! 

My political activism in the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) started in 2016. From 2017-2021 I had the honor to be the chief of staff of the mayor оf Municipality of Vinica.  

I was also a part of the Executive Committee in оur municipal organization аs well as responsible for PR and social media. So, the desire for improvement in all these spheres made me want to apply for the Political Academy.  

Political Academy weekend 

‘’Great time, great acquaintances and great experience’” is the shortest description for those three days in Ohrid! 

Honestly, I hesitated whether I should apply for the Political Academy because I was not sure whether it was the right thing for me and whether it would meet my hopes and expectations.  

I also got sick the day before, but the very first hour or two of the team-building part made me forget about my aches. Now, as I am writing, I am thinking: “Girl, you made the right decision”! 

The first module of the Academy was held in Ohrid, North Macedonia. The city is known for the Ohrid Lake, one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes that has a unique aquatic ecosystem with more than 200 endemic species. It’s one of only 28 sites of UNESCO’s World Heritage that are both cultural and natural sites.  

First, the agenda of the Academy was perfectly adapted for our age. The discussions kept my attention the whole time and there were no boring moments. All participants were interested and involved in the topics. I also feel that this was one of the few events where every opinion was discussed and accepted. 

Different sessions covered topics such as the political system of democracy and social democracy, human rights and gender issues. We also learned about creating public policy documents, which were two very effective hours of thinking and participating.  

Viisi nuorta pöydän ääressä keskustelemassa ja kirjaamassa ylös keskustelua.

We also had the pleasure to talk and discuss economic issues and investments with the Deputy Prime Minister of North Macedonia Fatmir Bytyqi. The second day ended with national experiences about Environmental protection by the Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Kaja Shukova. 

One of the sentences I heard during the third day’s session really stuck with me:  

“If your political activism started for solving personal needs and problems, you need to try visiting a psychologist, not a political party!”  

I think this was one of the wisest things I heard during the weekend. 

My future as a political activist  

I thought I knew pretty much everything about social democracy, human rights, politics…? Well, it turned out that I definitely did not! You never know what you can learn during three days!  

I would say this module taught me everything a successful politician should know. The module was especially useful for me since I plan to continue participating actively in politics, particularly in my town Vinica.  

These three days in Ohrid enriched my knowledge about social democratic values and gave me the courage to fight dedicatedly and persistently for a better tomorrow for the citizens of my country. 

For me, one of the most interesting parts of the weekend was that our learning did not stop with the official sessions. Unofficial discussions and exchanging ideas with the other participants and trainers continued on the beach: deep talks, different opinions, and life experiences from which I gained a lot.  

Ryhmäkuva politiikka-akatemian osalistujista.

Our days ended with singing and laughing. We had so much fun and didn’t even mind the too few hours of sleep we got each night. Tons of coffee in the mornings obviously helped.  

Besides all the theoretical and practical lessons this module gave us, it taught me one very important lesson. That I belong in a large unitary family of social democrats.  Solidarity means that when someone needs your help, you give them all your time and energy.  

In the end, the first module of the academy gave me a lot more than I expected. It gave me knowledge, unforgettable memories, and most of all, it gave me friends and family! Can’t wait for the other two modules! 

Ana Spasova

Ana Spasova is a political activist from North Macedonia. She participated in Political Academy organized by the partner NGOs of Kalevi Sorsa Foundation in spring 2023.

Political Academy in North Macedonia is an annual training program that focuses on strenghtening the capacity of civil society, by training young people who are active in politics or civil society organisations. The training program is organised by Kalevi Sorsa Foundation and its local partner Progres Institute with the support from Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  

Three modules are held in different cities of North Macedonia and gather around 25 participants from all over the country. The first module focuses on theoretical aspects of democracy, human rights and different political systems. During the second module, the participants learn about social and political communication and strengthen their advocacy work skills.  The third module is dedicated to European integration. 

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