The following municipalities participated at the event held in the CEM club in the Old Skopje Bazaar:
- Debar, represented by Mayor Argetim Fida,
- Gostivar, represented by Mayor Rufi Osmani
- Chair, presented by Mayor. Izet Medziti and
- Tetovo, represented by the secretary of the municipality Ms. Drita Memeti
as well as representatives of the municipal administration, Commissions for Inter-Ethnic Relations (CIR) and representatives of the national and local media.
The keynote speech was delivered by the representative of the Metamorphosis Foundation, Mr. Filip Stojanovski, who stressed the importance of the inclusive approach and the respect for the needs of all citizens, regardless of whether they are a minority or majority on a national or local level. Then the representative of the project partner CA “Common Values”, Ms. Hajrije Ahmed held a concise presentation on the objectives and planned activities of MEC.
Specific project objectives of MEC include the improvement of CIR’s capacities in order to become more efficient, to increase their visibility and ability to work within their specific legally determined authorizations, using new technologies. The planned activities include human rights training, public relations and use of new technologies, then the development and use of e-learning resources and an information system that will provide institutional memory for the Commissions for Inter-Ethnic Relations.
The ICT tools will ensure the sharing of experiences, good practices and lessons learned among all stakeholders, and within the pilot municipalities, as well as other municipalities in the country.
After the signing of the memorandums of cooperation, the mayor of Debar, Mr. Fida on behalf of all attending representatives of the local self-government units expressed his satisfaction with the projected activities and the commitment for further improvement of the interethnic relations, particularly through the work of the CIRs as part of the established institutional mechanism for implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement. In addition, he expressed regret over the lack of interest in participating in the project by the municipalities with a majority of ethnic Macedonian population.
The MEC project is co-financed by the European Union and implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation in partnership with the Citizens’ Association for support of inter-ethnic dialogue and community development “Common Values” from Skopje. Participating municipalities provide non-financial support for the project work, providing conditions for the activities that will increase visibility and opportunities for communication of CIRs and citizens from all ethnic communities on issues within their jurisdiction.
The criteria for selection of pilot municipalities covered a number of parameters; from the willingness of municipalities to support the activities and their capacity, perceived through information about the work and experience in implementing projects, the composition and past work of the CIRs, as well as their capability for a positive impact through their activities.