”Political and Intercultural dialogue—From Conflict to Common Interest” 2010–2012

· Hildur Boldt

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Between 2008 and 2009 Kalevi Sorsa Foundation, in cooperation with Friedrich Ebert Stiftung anf the Progress Institute for Social Demogracy, carried out a project titled “The Integration and Participation of Communities in Civil Society – Dialogue and Training 2008-2009” in the Western Balkans. The project focused on building a multiethnic civil society and promoting political dialogue between ethnic groups in Macedonia and later on in other parts of the Western Balkans.

Kalevi Sorsa Foundation continues to support democracy in Macedonia and Kosovo. Between 2010 and 2012 the Foundation conducts a project “Political and Intercultural Dialogue – From Conflict to Common Interest”, which aims to support multicultural democracy and promote dialogue between different ethnic groups in Macedonia and Kosovo.


Ethnic divisions and nationalism have had detrimental effects on the developments in the Balkans since the early 1990s. The tendency towards mono-ethnicity together with a lack of communication and a weak democratic culture when it comes to civil society and political parties, represent the main challenges to democracy and development in the area.

In Macedonia the rights of minorities have been improved on the institutional level with the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which ended the conflict between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians in 2001. Macedonia has been seen as a succesful model of multiculturalism in the Western Balkans. In Kosovo the Ohrid Agreement has been used as an example in the organisation of ethnic relations.

Nevertheless, the social divisions and lack of interaction between ethnic groups remain. This is seen in Macedonia and the rest of the Balkans in ethnically segregated civil society organisations and political parties. The countries in the region need also to find solutions to their conflicts and develop regional cooperation to promote stability and development.

 Project activities

The aim of the project is to promote multicultural democracy and stability in Macedonia and Kosovo by supporting political and intercultural dialogue between different ethnic communities. The purpose of the project is to bring together activists of political parties and NGOs from different ethnic backgrounds to discuss common issues and challenges. The aim is to build confidence and understanding as well as to empower activists of civil society to take responsibility, to engage in intercultural and political dialogue and to address the common interests of different ethnic communities.

In spring 2010 the project organised a work shop series titled “Welfare through Public Services” that gathered political actors from Macedonia and Kosovo to discuss the future of welfare services. The work shops addressed concrete cases topical in Macedonia and Kosovo in the fields of education, health care and social services. The aim of the work shop series was to share experiences and to support political dialogue between Macedonia and Kosovo as well as to discuss principles and policy solutions of the welfare services.

In autumn 2010 a training series on training the trainers on intercultural and political dialogue was launched. The aim of the training series was to increase the capacity of young people active in civil society to transfer the skills of managing diversity and intercultural dialogue in multicultural environments in Macedonia. In 2011-2012 the new trainers have conducted intercultural dialogue training-sessions for youth from Macedonia and Kosovo.

In September and October 2011 the workshop series “Influence and Responsibility – democracy and organisations in the civil sector” was organized. Young civil society activists from Kosovo and Macedonia learnt about the role of civil society organisations for democracy, reflected on their respective organisation’s aims and activities  from the point of view of democracy, and gained knowledge and tools to develop them through practical exercises and cooperation. A second workshop series will be organised in the fall of 2012. The aim is to strengthen the capacity of young grass roots activists and encourage cooperation over ethnic lines.

The project is conducted in cooperation with Progress Institute for Social Democracy (FEPS) and Friedrich Ebert Foundation Office Skopje. The project is financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

For further information please contact
Project Coordinator Hildur Boldt
+358 400 327762

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