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  Issue 73  Interview

Vasko Hadzievski, SIDA project coordinator

Donors leaving Macedonia is a good sign for the investors

A certain time ago, two big projects were completed by the Swedish International Development Agency – SIDA, realized by the organizations ALKA and AMPEP concerning decentralization. What are the benefits from them?

The projects by ALKA and AMPEP concern decentralization, rural development and local self-government support.

AMPEP is a non-governmental organization from Iceland which simultaneously implemented the project in Macedonia, mostly in the western part, and in Albania. ALKA is a domestic non-governmental organization that worked only in Macedonia and realized over 70 projects.

By small infrastructural building interventions we reached the lower stratum of the local self-government, the villages and the local communities, especially their needs and problems. Mostly with the participation of the local population, waterworks systems were built and we communicated with the local authorities. In fact, the goal of both projects was with the method of population’s participation to solve a local problem and at the same time the population to learn how to use the institutions in its own country, starting from the local community to the ministries. The projects were a great success and resulted in starting enterprising projects by the population for which they did not ask for donations from us, but used their own opportunities and the opportunities that were given to them by the state funds. The goal was reached by the fact that the citizens were motivated to cooperate with the local authorities for issues that were of greatest importance, such as building roads, waterworks, sewages and other infrastructure interventions.

 

When did SIDA start working in Macedonia and what kinds of projects has it realized so far?

 

SIDA has been present in Macedonia since 2000. Every year at least 7 million euros were invested in different projects, mostly for environmental protection, agriculture, human rights etc. Projects intended for marginalized communities, children, women trafficking, as well as the Roma people, have also been realized. The Swedish non-governmental organization works with more projects related to women, and the Swedish Embassy in Macedonia organizes seminars and trainings for gender equality every year.

With regard to the fact that the Swedish government thinks that Macedonia has reached the level of development in which it does not need donors, but investors, by 2010 SIDA will have left our country. That means that all current projects written within the Strategy 2005-2010 will end.

They are more focused on agricultural societies, and they cooperate with the Macedonian Farmers’ Federation and the Ministry of Agriculture. Projects for cooperation between the Macedonian and the Swedish Faculty of Agriculture and the Agency for Support and Development of Agriculture have also been realized.

The Minister of Agriculture has a consultant from Slovenia for European integration and his engagement is paid by SIDA. Ecological projects are also carried out, like the Macedonian National Strategy for Sustainable Development, financial support for the Regional Ecological Center for preparation of local ecological action plans, and a project with the Food Directorate has also started for support of the Chemical Inspectorate for import of chemicals according to European standards. A project with the State Cadastre for modernization and transformation has also been realized.

The projects of the organization La Strada have also been supported, as well as a great regional project for maintenance of authentic brands and breeds, realized in all Balkan countries.

Through SIDA, the Swedish Guarantee Fund helps applicants who cannot obtain a credit in another way from the domestic banks. The Fund takes into consideration land, machines, weekend houses and other property of the applicant and guarantees with money for the bank.

 

Will SIDA after its departure in 2010 start with some other projects or participate by supporting projects of other civil society  organizations?

 

SIDA will not start with new projects in Macedonia. As I have already mentioned, Sweden ranked Macedonia, along with Croatia, on the road to the European Union and thinks that it does not need any more donations, but investments. By 2010 all of the started projects in agriculture and environmental protection will have ended. According to the plan, no other non-governmental organization will be supported in their projects by 2010.

The fact that a donor leaves Macedonia is a good sign on a larger scale, i.e. it is a good message to the foreign investors. That means that the country has reached a certain level in building institutional capacities.

 

Has SIDA with its projects supported strengthening of the institutions in Macedonia?

 

In all areas in which SIDA participates with projects, building of capacities of a state institution we cooperate with is included within the frames of the project. Beside the gender equality and environmental protection, postulates upon which all SIDA projects are based and have to be respected, regardless of the project, is the building of administration capacities, other most important efforts of SIDA. While the first two principles are in accordance with the work of SIDA anywhere in the world, as gender equality and ecology are one of the most important rules respected in Sweden, the third experience has been taken out of the working process in Macedonia. During the implementation of the projects we concluded that it is very important to educate administration as well, so that the benefits from the projects would not be single and they can be felt in the future.

 

Will the office for communication between the citizens and members of parliament continue to work?

 

There is an office for communication between the citizens and MPs within the Parliament with all materials that are passed by the Assembly. It started working with the help of the Swedish Helsinki Committee for the Citizens’ Association MOST, but it has become self-sustainable over time and it has continued working on its own. Every citizen can ask a question to the MPs through the office, or ask for a written material which the Assembly has passed. The communication is on regular basis and is available to anyone.

The service is paid thus providing the office’s sustainability.
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