2015 - 2020
WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN NORTH MACEDONIA
After resolving the bilateral name dispute with Greece in January 2019, North Macedonia continued to struggle with implementing and advancing meaningful government reforms that are preconditions for European Union (EU) membership. The EU and U.S. Government shared concerns that the Government of North Macedonia (GoNM) must continue implementing urgent reform priorities in public administration, as well as the judiciary, security, and intelligence services, and fight corruption. Through its continued engagement, the U.S. Government supported the entrenchment of democratic processes in North Macedonia that are key to the country’s immediate stability, protecting against outside malign influence, eventual Euro-Atlantic integration, and the U.S. strategic priority of a strong and free Europe.
USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN NORTH MACEDONIA
In 2015, USAID/OTI launched the Macedonia Support Initiative (updated to the North Macedonia Support Initiative – NMSI), complementing U.S. Government efforts to support the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration, while remaining flexible to respond to emerging political realities. Starting in January 2019, NMSI used the window of opportunity presented by the historic resolution of the name dispute to help the GoNM refocus its efforts to address urgent reforms. NMSI coordinated within the Embassy and the international community in-country to identify short-fuse areas where NMSI could strategically advance the reform agenda and complement longer term efforts toward Euro-Atlantic integration.
Support to Critical Reforms: The GoNM undertook a bold and long-overdue set of legislative, policy, and systemic reforms. USAID/OTI provided assistance to enable key government sectors to advance this democratic process. USAID/OTI short-term support, often in the form of technical assistance, filled gaps and provided quick, tangible returns on investments that complemented other longer-term donor efforts.
Support to Media: In an effort to sustain the enabling environment for urgent democratic reform, as well as to manage citizen expectations on issues related to EU accession, NMSI supported the development of fact-based and data-driven media content, including 360 Degrees and Detektor, news programs that sought to enrich national-level debate on reforms. USAID/OTI technical assistance supported media outlets to develop higher-quality programming that engaged the population on key reform issues. Qualitative data indicated that NMSI’s support for independent, non-partisan media has improved perceptions of freedom of speech and an appreciation for different political points of view in North Macedonia.
2001 - 2003
WHY USAID/OTI WAS IN MACEDONIA
USAID/OTI began its Macedonia program in October 2001 after a political settlement brought the country's armed conflict to an end. USAID/OTI's Confidence Building Initiative (CBI) was a two-year program designed to mitigate political and ethnic tensions during the implementation of the Framework Agreement. CBI supported the rapid implementation of community-identified and prioritized projects as well as other confidence-building activities to allow time for political reforms to take place.
USAID/OTI'S ROLE IN MACEDONIA
CBI worked at the local level to bring together diverse groups of citizens to identify shared priorities and to help their communities develop and implement confidence-building projects designed to reduce tensions. CBI's objectives were fourfold:
- 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.
- CBI assisted informal groups of citizens in identifying their community's shared priorities and finding constructive ways to address them. Community-identified and implemented projects, such as rehabilitation of schools and community centers, were a means to encourage cooperation among diverse groups and promote more participatory decision-making at the local level.
- CBI worked with locally elected leaders to facilitate more effective relationships between citizens and their local governments in order to address issues of common concern. CBI also supported formal civil society groups, such as local associations and non-governmental organizations, to promote participatory decision-making at the local level, improve citizen access to local government institutions and encourage constructive community engagement.
- CBI supported a wide range of media activities including print and electronic news media, film, music, cultural performances and other artistic means of communication and expression. Media grants were designed to increase confidence and reduce tensions through the dissemination of balanced information and the promotion of positive examples of multicultural cooperation. Media coverage was also integrated into other CBI projects to amplify their scope and influence, both locally and nationally.