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  • Florian Bieber
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18, 1999
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      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 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.

      Until today.

      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
      Denes (Macedonian).

      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
      in Macedonia
      8 Udarna brigada 31-1-5
      91000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia. tel: (389-91) 118-517
      fax: (389-91) 118-322

      Florian Bieber

      Balkan Academic News
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