North Macedonia

USAID Field Report Macedonia Dec 2002

Format
Other
Source
Posted
Originally published
United States Agency for International Development
Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
Office of Transition Initiatives
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

The Macedonia Confidence Building Initiative (CBI) seeks to reduce tensions and mitigate conflict through confidence-building efforts during the implementation of the Framework Agreement. To that end, CBI's four objectives are to support positive, community-based interaction among diverse groups of people; promote citizen participation in community decision making; foster transparency, responsiveness and accountability in the relationship between citizens and local government; and increase citizen access to balanced information and diverse points of view. Working with local non-governmental organizations, informal groups of citizens, media outlets and local government authorities, CBI brings together diverse groups of people to identify and meet common community needs. The International Organization for Migration implements the program and manages CBI offices in Skopje, Tetovo, Kicevo, Bitola and Kocani. Since October 2001, CBI has provided $7,525,473 in small grants.

COUNTRY SITUATION

OFFICIALS DISCUSS FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION: On December 26, political party representatives and Framework Agreement signatories met in Skopje to discuss the government's action plan for implementing the Framework Agreement. The action plan, effective January 15, 2003, includes provisions for the passage of approximately 90 laws addressing such issues as decentralization, infrastructure reconstruction and improved security in conflict-affected areas. The leader of the largest opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, did not attend the meeting.

NEW IMF STANDBY AGREEMENT NEEDED TO SAVE AILING ECONOMY: The International Monetary Fund has indicated that a new agreement is unlikely without cuts in state expenditures and increases in government revenues. According to government officials, the budget deficit is approximately $140 million. Much of the deficit is attributable to a bloated public sector, uncontrolled spending, graft and mismanagement. Various donors have promised around $115 million in credits and grants. However, these funds will only be released once a new standby agreement is reached.

SCHOOL EXPLOSION RAISES ETHNIC TENSIONS: On December 25, a bomb placed outside a school in tension-laden Kumanovo killed one person and severely injured several others. It is widely believed that the delayed school bell averted more casualties among the approximately 500 primarily ethnic-Macedonian students who attend the school. No one claimed responsibility for the blast, but several political leaders suggested that the bomb plant was a deliberate attempt to fuel ethnic tensions. This was the latest in a series of school-related incidents that have divided schools and communities along ethnic lines.

CBI HIGHLIGHTS

A. Narrative Summary

In December, CBI approved 25 grants totaling $555,419, bringing the total number of grants approved to 347 and total funds committed to $7,525,473. The average grant size was $21,687. CBI leveraged $247,539 from grantees and other donors, a rate of 45 percent of CBI funding, bringing the total amount of leveraged funds to $5,909,611 or 79 percent of all OTI funds committed. Grantees contributed $208,318 in December, while other donors contributed $39,221. Two grants were completed this month, bringing the total number of completed grants to 149 and maintaining a completion rate of 43 percent.

The following highlights CBI projects approved in December.

In western Macedonia, CBI awarded two grants totaling $3,852 to local governments to conduct public hearings and develop and distribute brochures to educate citizens about local-government roles, increase citizen participation in community decision-making, and lower tensions associated with a historic lack of government assistance. Through public hearings on municipal budgets, the local governments of two municipalities in the Kicevo region are reaching more than 19,000 residents in 30 villages. These grants, which build on experience and lessons learned implementing two similar grants in southern Macedonia, were two of six grants approved in December to promote citizen participation in community decision making.

In southern Macedonia, CBI awarded a $26,941 grant to mobilize broad public involvement in an unprecedented cooperation among local government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local businesses. This cooperative effort is providing financial support to community-identified and initiated projects that promote tolerance and cooperation. CBI's grant finances a large-scale, multi-media campaign and public meetings to inform citizens about the project and encourage their participation in it. CBI is also helping to distribute booklets describing project application procedures and expected project outcomes. This grant, which builds on CBI's successful engagement with local governments and communities in two municipalities, is one of five approved in December to promote transparency, responsiveness and accountability between citizens and local government.

In eastern Macedonia, CBI approved a $11,559 grant to expand access to balanced information and diverse points of view for approximately 9,000 ethnic Macedonians, Roma and Turks. This grant builds on a previous CBI grant, which successfully supported the publication and distribution of a local weekly newspaper notable for its political independence and balanced reporting on issues related to the national elections held in September. The weekly now serves as a vehicle for enhanced citizen-local government communication. While the newspaper Aktuelnost has become self-sustainable, this additional grant supports its expansion to meet growing demand. The grant is one of eight approved in December to increase citizens' access to balanced information.

In western Macedonia, CBI also awarded a $6,855 grant to encourage interethnic tolerance through the arts. CBI is providing art supplies and supporting youth participation in three tolerance-focused lectures and workshops offering various types of arts instruction. This grant is one of six approved in December to promote interaction among diverse groups of people.

B. 2002 Grants Activity Summary

Program Category
Approved Grants
Completed Grants
Total Grants
CBI USD Contribution
Matching USD Contribution
Total USD Contribution
Civil Society Org. Support
43
56
99
$1,187,416
$716,936
$1,904,352
Local Media
55
27
82
$1,461,595
$1,345,627
$2,807,222
Local Governance
37
25
62
$1,856,253
$1,041,424
$2,897,677
Community Impact Activities
63
41
104
$3,020,209
$2,805,624
$5,825,833
Total
198
149
347
$7,525,473
$5,909,611
$13,435,084

C. Indicators of Success

At CBI's widely attended first-year celebration in early December, U.S. Ambassador Lawrence Butler and Macedonia's Minister of the Environment Ljubomir Janov, who partnered with CBI while he was mayor of a northeastern municipality, praised CBI grantees for their confidence-building efforts and for serving as positive role models for others around the country.

Several mayors and other local officials, who worked closely with CBI over the past year, are now ministers in the new government. In managing their national portfolios, they plan to emulate CBI's democratic and transparent practices.

NEXT STEPS/PRIORITIES

In mid-January, the State Statistical Institute will release the potentially divisive preliminary results of the national census conducted in November. To help mitigate tensions, CBI plans to support a national media campaign promoting a common identity and tolerance for diversity.

CBI will endeavor to build on increased interest in government transparency and accountability by supporting national and local-level anti-corruption campaigns.

CBI will seek to enhance its collaboration with other USAID projects promoting increased community involvement in local governance to augment the breadth and sustainability of CBI's impacts.

For further information, please contact:

In Macedonia: Nives Mattich, Macedonia Country Representative, nmattich@usaid.gov.
In Washington: Carlisle Levine, Europe & Eurasia Program Manager, clevine@usaid.gov.