Supporting Democracy in Multi-Ethnic Macedonia – Dialogue and Cooperation 2013–2014

· Hildur Boldt

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The Kalevi Sorsa Foundation continues to support democracy in Macedonia with a two-year project Supporting Democracy in Multi-Ethnic Macedonia – Dialogue and Cooperation. The project supports multicultural democracy by strengthening the capacities of young grass-roots level civil society activists to function in a multicultural environment. The project is the Foundation’s third democracy project in Macedonia, where it has cooperated with local partners Progres Institute for Social Democracy and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Office Skopje since 2008. The project is financed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.


Macedonia is a multi-ethnic state that gained its independence peacefully from Yugoslavia in 1991. Despite a peaceful coexistence of different ethnic groups in the first decade of independence, a conflict between ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians, the largest minority, erupted in 2001. The conflict related to the Albanian population’s demands of right to use the Albanian language and representation within state structures.  As a result of international intervention, the Ohrid Peace Agreement was signed by the leaders of the main Macedonian and Albanian political parties in Macedonia on 13th of August 2001.

The Ohrid agreement put minority rights on foreground, and especially the rights of Albanian population. The rights of minorities have been improved on the institutional level according to the agreement.

Macedonia is perceived as a successful example of multi-ethnic model in Western Balkan. For example Kosovo has sought to learn from Macedonian experiences and the Ohrid Agreement when finding solutions to organize its own inter-ethnic relations.

Despite the institutional improvements in minority rights and inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia, differences and lack of communication between the ethnic communities especially between Albanians and Macedonians remain in society. There is a clear tendency toward mono-ethnicity when it comes to civil society and political parties. In addition to the ethnic divisions, one of the biggest challenges is a weak democratic culture. There is a lack of political dialogue and cooperation not only between different ethnic groups, but also between political parties within the same ethnic group.

Project activities

The aim of the project is to support multicultural democracy and stability in Macedonia. The purpose of the project is to strengthen the capacities of young grass-roots level activists and reduce prejudices between different ethnic groups. The project aims to increase self-motivated inter-ethnic cooperation, disseminate knowledge and increase awareness of inter-ethnic relations and facilitate the formation of networks between activists and CSOs.

In 2014 a youth platform for multiculturalism and participation will start to work in Macedonia. The platform consists of eight political youth organizations and local NGOs.  The aim is to create a platform in which young members of different political parties and NGOs can come to together to discuss, find common interests and cooperate. The purpose is that young people gain possibility to develop own ideas and work on those in cooperation with others.

The platform also aims of developing the capacities and skills of the young grass root level activists of organizations in a range of issues, e.g. organize organizational activities, increase self-motivated action and engage cooperation in multiethnic environment or any other skills the organizations see relevant for their members.

In 2014 new junior trainers trained in the project in autumn 2013 will start to train on multiculturalism in Macedonia. The project also supports initiatives and projects of new trainers as well as other young activists.

For further information please contact
Kaija Korhonen Project coordinator +358403522484

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