In 2015, the European Institute of Peace was invited by the Macedonian government to facilitate the official review process of the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) – a 2001 peace deal signed in Skopje to govern inter-ethnic relations. EIP now publishes the findings of this process, which examined the progress and the gaps in the implementation of the agreement with the aim to improve social cohesion and inter-ethnic relations.
The OFA’s full implementation is an important factor for inter-community peace and a crucial step in achieving an inclusive multiethnic society. The Review of the OFA implementation was pending for several years, and the strengthening of social cohesion gains particular urgency in times of crisis. The need to complete the Review and implement its recommendations was recently noted in the Conclusions on Enlargement and Stabilisation and Association Process by the Council of the EU. Thus, EIP’s support to the Government also took place in the context of preventive diplomacy and with a view to advance the country’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations.
In December 2015, the Secretariat for Implementation of the OFA (SIOFA) finalised the “OFA Review on Social Cohesion” with expert support from EIP and the OSCE Mission to Skopje.The review process was participatory in nature. Data collection, analysis and initial policy recommendations were provided by six thematic working groups composed of close to 70 representatives from the SIOFA, different ministries and state institutions, civil society, representatives from all communities, academia as well as representatives from the OSCE and EIP. These working groups started their work in September 2015 and prepared reports on six key topics (see below). The working group reports' are included as annexes. The main findings of these reports were then presented and discussed in a round of 7 thematic consultations with civil society organisations, academia and political parties in October and November 2015, involving over 200 stakeholders and experts.
The review findings are structured along six themes, covering the major aspects of the OFA: (1) decentralisation, (2) equitable representation, (3) use of languages, (4) education, (5) non-discrimination and (6) communities with less than 20% share of population. In addition, a section is added on (7) further aspects in order to reflect on challenges and cross-cutting issues that concern several of the thematic fields.
The cooperation leading up to completion of the report, for which EIP did not charge a fee and maintained close coordination with European institutions, was formalised in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government. The report has been formally submitted to the Macedonian Council of Ministers for its consideration.