The conference with a topic ‘How to make the Commissions for Interethnic Relations more efficient?’ focused on sharing the experiences from the MEC project, and the knowledge of all stakeholders working on the development of local democracy and interethnic relations.
Keynote speeches at the conference were delivered by Mr. Robin Liddell, Minister Counselor, Head of Section for Political & Justice and Home Affairs Issues, Information and Communication; Delegation of the European Union who stressed the importance of promoting inter-ethnic relations in the context of the process of EU integration, and Mr. Abdulakjim Ademi, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic in charge of implementation of the Ohrid FrameworkAgreement noted “we have concluded that these commissions do not have the sufficient capacity and these conferences aim to strengthen the capacities of the commissions. I’m calling the mayors and municipal councils to provide more opportunities and resources for these commissions to function and to discuss all issues related to interethnic relations on a local level”.
The director of the Foundation Metamorphosis, Mr. Bardhyl Jashari stated: ‘It’s true that the new technologies can contribute a lot to making the Commissions for Interethnic Relations more efficient and increase their visibility in public, but their capacity to perform the tasks specified by law primarily depends on the commitment and political will of the municipalities – the mayors, municipal councils, as well as the CIR members.
After the opening of the conference, speeches were given by mayors of the municipalities of Chair, Debar and Kicevo, as well as representatives of the municipal administration from Tetovo and Gostivar on the role of the CIR in the local self-governments in Macedonia.
The conference was attended by more than 100 participants, including representatives of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Macedonia, the central and local government in Macedonia, the Commissions for Interethnic relations from 15 municipalities, the civil society sector, foreign embassies and the media.
Aside from representatives from the four pilot municipalities of the MEC project – Debar, Gostivar, Tetovo and Chair, representatives from the following municipalities also attended the conference: Brvenica, Vrapchishte, Veles, City of Skopje, Drugovo, Kichevo, Kocani, Kumanovo, Studenichani, Chashka and Cucher Sandevo.
During the event, representatives of the CIRs from the four pilot municipalities presented their experiences, and the benefits such as the increased capacity and visibility of the CIRs. During this session, the Guide for the Commissions for Interethnic Relations was presented by Ms. Hajrije Rexhepi, president of CA Common Values.
This session was followed by a panel discussion on the topic ‘The role of the Commissions for Interethnic Relations in the development of local democracy and fostering of interethnic relations” pointing out the needs for amendments to the law to allow the municipal resources to be made available to the Commissions, to redefine their competences, and to specify the manner of election of CIR members in order to enable both representation and inclusiveness.
Perceptions of the situations and needs will be published in the form of conclusions and recommendations from the conference. A video recording from all the sessions, as well as all the presentations and materials will soon be published on the MEC project website – www.mek.mk.