This text including some photos from the project can be found at the Balkan
Academic News Vault (www.egroups.com/list/balkans, then click on vault, in
the folder "papers")
REFUGEES IN MACEDONIA:
NEW FRIENDSHIPS OR NEW DIVISIONS
Refugees have been arriving in Macedonia by the hundreds of thousands for
weeks. Everyone "knows" what they think; what they want; what they do or
do not intend. Everyone "knows" what the impact of the refugees on
Macedonia has been and what it is likely to be in the future. Such
knowledge circulates throughout Macedonia through the normal channels of
mass communication: gossip, rumor.
On Monday, May 11, 1999, refugees and Macedonian citizens were given their
first opportunity to look into each other's mirrors and to see themselves
reflected. This was accomplished through an extraordinary journalistic
effort conducted by Search for Common Ground in Macedonia (SCGM) in
cooperation with two daily newspapers, Fakti (Albanian) and Makedonija
SCGM succeeded in assembling a team of journalists, Macedonians and
Albanians from Macedonia, as well as a leading Kosovar intellectual, who
wrote 14 articles about refugees in Macedonia. Published under the title,
Refugees in Macedonia: New Friendships or New Divisions, these articles
examine issues confronting all three communities as they struggle to make
sense of the crisis and how their lives have been effected. This approach
contrasts with other media that focus exclusively the tragic plight of the
refugees, to the exclusion of Macedonia's other communities.
60,000 copies of Refugees in Macedonia were printed, 30,000 each in
Macedonian and Albanian. Nearly all the Albanian copies were inserted as a
supplement to Fakti: Some were sold through the paper's usual distribution
channels, but most were distributed free of charge throughout the refugee
camps. Of the Macedonian copies, about 12,000 were sold as a supplement in
Makedoniija Denes. The remainder are being distributed free of charge
throughout Macedonia. Refugees in Macedonia is now being translated into
English for publication and general distribution to international
organizations and foreign journalists in Macedonia. This texts will
eventually be posted on the Web.
Reactions to Refugees in Macedonia have been overwhelmingly favorable.
Fakti sold out within hours of its appearance on the street. People coming
to Fakti's office for additional copies had to be turned away. A Japanese
television crew learned about this project and filmed in a refugee camp as
the papers were being distributed by a relief organization.
A poignant and totally unexpected outcome was when SCGM received a call
from a reader who recognized his lost relative, a 4- or 5-year-old refugee,
whose photograph appears on the back cover of the publication. We have now
taken steps to reunite them.
Today, two other publications, one Albanian and one Macedonian, contacted
Search for Common Ground in Macedonia with requests to be included in any
further activities of this sort. We are currently planning on continuing
with this effort once monthly for at least three more months.
As much as SCGM may feel it deserves to take credit for this, we
congratulate the journalists: for their willingness to stand up for their
principles in public; for their stand against ignorance, and for building
bridges of understanding.
Eran Fraenkel, Executive Director
Search for Common Ground
8 Udarna brigada 31-1-5
91000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. tel: (389-91) 118-517
fax: (389-91) 118-322
Balkan Academic News