4.5 Initiatives promoting social inclusion and raising awareness
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The Government of the Republic of North Macedonia invested in raising intercultural awareness among the population, but on an ad hoc basis.
In 2015, the Government implemented the campaign “Multiethnic and multi-religious cohesion”. It consists of 18 videos for encouraging cohesion and mutual understanding among people with different ethnic or religious backgrounds. All videos were broadcast on National TV stations. The videos are published on the YouTube channel “Кампањи на Владата на РМ” (Campaigns of the Government of the RM) in specific playlist.
CSO’s are usually the ones who are initiating different projects and camping for promotion of social inclusion. Thus, Macedonian Center for Civic Education in April 2017 started with implementation of a 5- years long project for interethnic integration of youth in education. The aim of this project is to help ensure positive interactions among young people of different ethnic backgrounds at school and community level, while enhancing civic education, behavior and youth volunteer skills. The project is financed by USAID. For the past five and a half years, the Project has worked with educational institutions as well as all primary and secondary schools and municipalities across the country to strengthen inter-ethnic cohesion in schools, civic education and youth participation, covering over 400,000 students, teachers, school staff and parents through more than 5,000 activities at the level of schools and local communities.
The Ministry of Political System and Inter-Community Relations is formed in 2019, and it performs works and duties related to:
- Functioning of political system;
- Securing and coordination of the support to the Government in realization of the strategic priority related to obligations arising from Framework agreement;
- Securing and realization of financial assets required for successful development of the process of realization of obligations arising from the Framework Agreement within the frames of the Budget of the Republic of North Macedonia and donors;
- Advancement and protection of the rights of communities as group of citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia who live on the territory of the Republic of North Macedonia and its representatives have different ethnic, linguistic, cultural, religious and other specifics and are led by the will for protection and nurturing those specifics;
- Monitoring the implementation of the right to use of languages and alphabets of the communities;
- Guaranteeing the protection of ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of the communities;
- International cooperation for issues referring to political life and inter-community relations;
- Cooperation and harmonization of data from the database in their competence with the State Statistical Office;
- Cooperation and performing professional works for the needs of the bodies of national and local government in diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of North Macedonia and within other state bodies established in pursuance to the Constitution and law and in institutions that perform activities in the area of public interest as stipulated by law, and organized as agencies, funds, public institutions and public enterprises established by the Republic of North Macedonia or from municipalities, from the city of Skopje, as well as the municipalities in the city of Skopje;
- Monitoring the state of inter-community relations in the Republic of North Macedonia on national level, per regions and in the local self-government units;
- Preparing reports and recommendations to the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia, as well as the Inter-Communities Relations Committee;
- Providing support to institutions in accomplishing the obligations stipulated in this Law;
- Promoting and undertaking measures for enhancement of use of the language that is spoken by at least 20% of the citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia;
- Preparation of professional-analytical materials under their authority for the needs of the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia;
- Providing support to the Government in securing fair and equal representation of citizens that belong to all communities in the state administration bodies;
- Providing support in preparation of methodology for adoption of actions plans of the Government in the area of equal representation in employment;
- Providing support in coordination of activities with the bodies of state administration and donors and
- Performing other duties as stipulated by Law.
There are not many state initiatives for promotion of young people’s rights. Usually initiatives are coming from international or civic organizations and are later supported by some governmental organizations.
At the end of 2017, the International Labor Organization organized a workshop in the municipality of Bitola, targeting youth up to 29 years of age. The workshop was intended to provide support to trade unions, employment services, education and science institutions and youth organizations in their initiatives aimed at raising the awareness of young people about their rights at the workplace.
From January 1, 2018, the Youth Information and Advisory Centers INFO SEGA from Prilep and Kavadarci in cooperation with fakulteti.mk and Macedonian Confederation of Free Trade Unions officially started the National campaign "365 workers' rights for youth". The campaign aimed to raise awareness among young people about their labor rights. Through the activities of the campaign, it worked to increase the awareness of young people to understand that they have rights in the workplace in which way, where and how to get information about them. The campaign "365 Labor Rights of Youth" was supported by the Program for decentralized cooperation between the region of Normandy and Macedonia, the Agency of Youth and Sport of the Republic of North Macedonia and the State Labor Inspectorate. The campaign lasted till the end of 2018, and it consisted of debates, workshops, research and an online campaign which was conducted throughout the year with the publication of a single right from the Labor Law on a daily basis.
Research shows that young people in North Macedonia are vulnerable to radicalization. The information shows that the high unemployment rate and the overall poor economic situation of the young people in North Macedonia is one of the reasons for the radicalization. In a situation where young people do not see hope for a better tomorrow, they become an easy target for manipulation.
It is believed that the youth are the most targeted demographic in North Macedonia. The vague concept of radicalization often leaves the youth unprotected and unequipped with the needed counter-arguments or understandings for how not to fall into the traps of extremist propaganda. But, the National Strategy of Republic of Macedonia for Fight Against Terrorism (2018-2022) (Национална стратегија на Република Македонија за борба против тероризам (2018-2022)) doesn’t foresee some measure to prevent youth radicalization neither include young people in the description of vulnerable categories of persons.
In the National Strategy for prevention of violent extremism (2023-2027) (Национална стратегија за спречување на насилен екстремизам (2023-2027)), as one of the measures to prevent this phenomenon, trainings in formal and informal education are foreseen.
In January 2021, a project ‘Youth Civic Education Platform for Countering Radicalization (Youth Counter)’ was launched by Initiative for European Perspective (IEP), Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID) - Kumanovo, NEXUS civil concept, AKVA – Struga and CBM - Mitrovica, financed by the EU. The project goals are to enhance the capacity of local civil society for building resilience against radicalization of the youth population in N. Macedonia, and to develop a civic education platform for youth, designing civic education motivated counter-narratives and alternative narratives, as a means for the prevention of youth radicalization. The project duration is from January 2021 until December 2023.
Horizon Civitas is an non-governmental organization that through the Preventing/Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) program works on projects and initiatives to build resilience in the community against any type of radicalization and violent extremism that threatens the society. Through this program, Horizon Civitas aims to help citizens to build capacities to take social responsibility for a safer community. With this, the goal of Horizon Civitas is to contribute for community interventions to tackle the phenomenon of radicalization or/and violent extremism.