North Macedonia

USAID Field Report Macedonia Jan 2003

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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 $7,870,612 in small grants.

COUNTRY SITUATION

PRELIMINARY CENSUS RESULTS PUBLISHED: The State Statistical Institute released the initial results of the census conducted in November 2002, showing Macedonia's population to be just over two million. The Institute will release preliminary data on ethnic composition later in the year. Ethnic composition is viewed as an important marker, since ethnic communities that comprise more than 20 percent of the population are expected to receive additional rights as a result of the constitutional and legal changes enacted last year in response to the Framework Agreement.

SPECIAL POLICE SQUAD STAGES BLOCKADE: Seven hundred members of the Lions blockaded a main road near Skopje for two days, causing a tense standoff with 200 government police. The Lions, a special paramilitary unit established under the Ministry of Interior in response to the crisis of 2001, were protesting a government plan to disband them. The crisis was resolved when, in exchange for the Lions' agreement to proceed with plans to disband, the government agreed to allow members of the Lions to be integrated into the regular police and army.

FLOODS ENDANGER NORTHEASTERN MACEDONIA: Torrential rains caused two rivers to overflow and flood more than 200 households in Kumanovo, northeast of Skopje. Some 600 residents, the majority from two predominantly Roma settlements, were evacuated from their homes. Five power stations in Kumanovo were also affected, leaving parts of the town without electricity for 12 hours.

EU AGREED TO TAKE OVER NATO PEACEKEEPING MISSION: The European Union agreed to take over NATO's peacekeeping mission in March. The force, which was deployed in response to the conflict in 2001, will be reduced to about 450 soldiers by that date. The military operation will be the first that the 15-nation European Union will control as part of its new foreign and security policy.

CBI HIGHLIGHTS

A. Narrative Summary

In January, CBI approved 12 grants totaling $403,718, bringing the total number of grants approved to 360 and total funds committed to $7,870,612. The average grant size was $33,643. Grantees and other donors contributed $103,926 in January, bringing the total amount of matching funds to $6,011,044, or 76 percent of all OTI funds committed. Grantees contributed $91,926, while other donors contributed $12,000. CBI closed ten projects in January, bringing the total number of completed projects to 169. The program's completion rate rose to 47 percent.

The following grants exemplify CBI projects approved in January.

In western Macedonia, as part of its ongoing response to the Shemshevo school crisis sparked in November, CBI awarded $15,807 to the Regional Teachers Dialogue project. This was the second grant of a three-part training module aimed at fostering positive attitudes to help resolve ethnic conflicts. The grant, designed for 50 teachers who had previously received peace-building training, gave participants the opportunity to further develop their conflict-resolution skills, so that they could teach and apply them in their schools.

In southern Macedonia, CBI approved a grant of $67,878 to renovate a school that was crumbling after 70 years of neglect. The project generated an extraordinary level of cooperation from an ethnically mixed group of teachers and parents. More than 200 ethnic-Albanian and ethnic-Macedonian parents and teachers worked in shifts to provide non-stop volunteer labor over the course of two weeks, drawing extensive positive media coverage at the local and national levels.

In eastern Macedonia, as part of CBI's broader effort to promote peaceful co-existence and cooperation, CBI awarded $4,947 for Multi-Ethnic Peace and Tolerance Mini-Sessions. As a result of the project, almost 40 ethnic-Macedonian, Albanian and Serb children from the post-conflict region of Kumanovo came together for the first time since the conflict. They participated in peace and confidence-building activities designed to teach them how to communicate with one another in a constructive manner, as well as how to convey positive messages of cooperation and peace.

B. January 2003 Grants Activity Summary

Program Category
Approved Grants
Completed Grants
Total Grants
CBI USD Contribution
Matching USD Contribution
Total USD Contribution
Civil Society Org. Support
38
64
106
$1,165,009
$731,535
$1,896,544
Local Media
50
34
84
$1,508,113
$1,394,727
$2,902,840
Local Governance
36
26
62
$1,834,752
$1,041,424
$2,876,176
Community Impact Activities
67
45
112
$3,362,738
$2,843,359
$6,206,097
Total
191
169
360
$7,870,612
$6,011,045
$13,881,657

C. Indicators of Success

In November, in ethnically divided schools around Tetovo, CBI brought together students of Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish and other ethnic backgrounds from all six high schools to launch a bilingual-Albanian and Macedonian-newspaper, through which the students could express opposition to ethnic divisions. As an indicator of this project's success and the high demand that exists for the paper, ten thousand copies of the second issue were distributed to students in the six schools. The launch of the paper attracted local and national media attention because it offered another platform for mitigating ethnic conflicts by promoting common interests and positive attitudes.

The Regional Democratic Leadership Camp, which took place in eastern Macedonia during the latter portion of 2002 and brought together 60 students from various political and ethnic backgrounds to learn about democratic principles through the creation of a simulated municipality, received extensive national media coverage for its innovation. The national Macedonian Television covered the camp multiple times on a daily basis, while the state-owned television made a documentary on the camp. The ZELS Newsletter, a nationwide publication of the Mayors' Association, praised the positive impact of the camp and highlighted the need for more projects like it. As a result, the camp organizers are considering CBI's suggestion to arrange similar activities for adults.

CBI was pleased to witness the peaceful release of the preliminary results of the national census. This was a positive indicator that CBI's collaboration with the State Statistical Institute and investment in newspaper and television advertisements regarding the census were effective in helping to educate people about the purpose of the census and its potential benefits for all citizens and residents of Macedonia.

CBI community planning groups or Confidence Building Units (CBUs) composed of more than one ethnic group have developed and implemented more than 230 grants or almost two-thirds of CBI's total grants. More than 7,423 citizens normally excluded from community decision making have participated directly in CBI's inclusive decision-making processes. Including citizens in these processes has provided those citizens with an important outlet to express their views and concerns, and has thus helped mitigate conflict and lessen tensions in communities throughout the country.

D. Program Appraisal

CBI has hired a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer who will help CBI better capture and evaluate the program's accomplishments toward its goal of conflict mitigation. Out of its own programming experience, CBI hopes to develop tools that address the needs of a transition environment in order to gain a better understanding of the CBI program itself, as well as make a lasting contribution to other OTI and conflict-mitigation programs.

CBI is planning to close its program at the end of September. As part of its exit strategy, CBI will seek to document and share the knowledge and tools it has gained during the program with local communities and international counterparts in Macedonia to help them prepare for decentralization and local elections in 2004.

NEXT STEPS/PRIORITIES

In January, CBI staff, building on their partnership with the State Statistical Institute begun around census activities, met with the Institute again to discuss ways to prevent conflict and manage expectations related to the publication of census results. CBI first devised a one-page questionnaire to get a quick glimpse of how the general population perceives the census and what they think the implications of the outcome may be. CBI is also developing plans to train journalists on interpreting census results to help increase the accuracy of reporting. CBI also plans to work with the Institute to promote further public education on interpreting results and to help the Institute understand the roles citizens play in Macedonia's economic development and decentralization processes.

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.