There are no exact strict government programmes to support trans-national intercultural dialogue, but certain programmes are channelled via the Ministry of Culture or intergovernmental organisations. The Ministry of Culture supports specific trans-national activities for young people or youth groups, through funds available for travel grants, language or cross-cultural training courses.
The Treaty for good neighbourly relations (2017) with Bulgaria and the Final Agreement for the Settlement of the Name Issue (2018) with Greece are a serious step towards intercultural dialogue and co-operation.
The Final Agreement for Settlement of the Name Issue in article 14.8 points out that “The Parties shall support the broadening of tourist exchanges, and the development of their cooperation in the fields of alternative tourism, including cultural, religious, educational, medical, and athletic tourism and shall cooperate in improving and promoting business and tourist travel between them”. Article 8.2 and 8.3 are important for referring to some aspects of the controversial project “Skopje 2014”, saying that:
“2. Within six months following the entry into force of this Agreement, the Second Party shall review the status of monuments, public buildings and infrastructures on its territory, and insofar as they refer in any way to ancient Hellenic history and civilization constituting an integral component of the historic or cultural patrimony of the First Party, shall take appropriate corrective action to effectively address the issue and ensure respect for the said patrimony.
3. The Second Party shall not use again in any way and in all its forms the symbol formerly displayed on its former national flag. Within six months of the entry into force of this Agreement, the Second Party shall proceed to the removal of the symbol displayed on its former national flag from all public sites and public usage on its territory. Archaeological do not fall within the scope of this provision.”
Intercultural dialogue: actors, strategies, programmes
The FYR of Macedonia is a multi-cultural, multi-confessional and multi-linguistic country where intercultural dialogue is one of the most important issues. In fact, the whole political system is designed on these bases. In strictly cultural terms, the main authority responsible for programmes and policies addressing the issue of intercultural dialogue at national level is the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry has also established an Office for the Promotion and Advancement of the Cultures of Nationalities.
The main policy document identifying intercultural (interethnic) dialogue as an objective or priority of the government is the Ohrid Framework Agreement from 2001. In that context, the general intercultural dialogue has been fostered, especially after the Ohrid Framework Agreement. ICD has been on the agenda of all the ministries and government agencies, especially the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Secretariat for European Affairs, the Agency for Youth and Sport, the Agency for the Rights of the Communities etc. ICD is an important part of several national strategies, including the National Strategy for Culture; the National Strategy for Education; the National Strategy for Youth etc.
In 2003, the Parliament established the Committee on the Political System and Ethnic Relations. It consists of 19 members, including seven seats reserved for ethnic Macedonian legislators and seven for ethnic Albanian deputies. The Serbian, Vlach, Turk, Romany, and Bosnian minorities have one member each. The interests of minorities are not represented within the Parliament, but are instead represented by the national ombudsman. The formation of the committee is part of the implementation of the Ohrid Agreement.
The NGO sector is a big promoter of intercultural dialogue, especially the Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia which has several programmes for intercultural dialogue. In 2005, the Foundation Open Society Institute Macedonia held a regional conference on “Multiculturalism in Macedonia: an emerging model”.
On August 2nd 2018 (Day of the Roma holocaust, when 3.000 Roma men, women and children were killed in Auschwitz) Roma people in Skopje held a march named “Stop to the racism – Justice for the Roma people”. They marched to the Italian Embassy to deliver a protest note against the politics of Italy towards Roma people.