By Rense Bos
The Ohrid Framework Agreement (peace agreement in Macedonia as a result of the armed conflict in 2001) and the constitutional changes that derived from this agreement set the basis for change in the national legislation. This provided more rights for the non- majority ethnic groups in Macedonia.
It created a body that stimulates active participation in the decision making processes to all non- majority ethnic groups. Innovation For the first time, institutional mechanisms for dialogue between the ethnic communities at local level and protection of the rights of ethnic minorities on local level were introduced in Republic of Macedonia. It is a bottom-up approach aiming to provide more opportunities for participation in public life of the non-majority ethnic groups in relations to culture, use of languages, use of national/ethnic symbols and names of infrastructural objects.
This initiative actively included all the major stakeholders and interest groups, starting with the citizens from the ethnically mixed municipalities through the Civil Society Organizations (CSO). Relevant national and international organizations gave their contribution through sharing of knowledge on including non-majority ethnic groups in decision making processes. This strategy proved to be the right formula for success.