We are Foundation Open Society – Macedonia, part of the global network of Open Society Foundations founded by the American investor and philanthropist George Soros, and in North Macedonia, we officially started operating in 1992.
We are committed to creating a dynamic and tolerant society in which citizens are aware and active, and authorities accountable, a society in which everyone has equal opportunities to exploit their potentials, be involved in decision-making, initiate change, a society that respects different thinking and where critical thinking is nurtured and developed.
Our support is, for the most part, expressed through grants to CSOs, informal groups and individuals, who work in many areas, all in their own way, to promote the values of an open society.
Since 1992, the Foundation has invested more than 100 million dollars to democratize Macedonian society and improve the lives of its citizens, which remains our focus, and we raise many issues that are of interest to all citizens on a daily basis.
We actively support solutions that will enable the development of civil society, promoting health and education, strengthening the rule of law, respecting and protecting human rights, freedom of speech, youth engagement, integration of Roma and other marginalized communities, enabling the fight against corruption, but also access to justice for all citizens equally.
A BRIEF HISTORY
When the Open Society Foundation – Macedonia started its work in 1992, it was immediately confronted by the crisis facing our newly formed independent state – closed borders from the north and south, but also wars in the region that fueled ethnic tensions. The country was in a great financial crisis, to which our newly formed Foundation responded with the support it needed at the moment – medical and humanitarian assistance that created basic conditions for the functioning of public health, a loan to purchase heating oil, the provision of a corridor through which Macedonian agricultural products have reached markets in Slovenia and Croatia.
In 2001, when the country was again facing a crisis caused by the armed conflict, the Foundation provided critical support that enabled the public to be kept informed of developments in the country and of the details of the Ohrid Agreement. This support prompted the democratic opening of the country, and later the reconciliation between ethnic groups especially important for the country at the moment.
Faced with many challenges over the years, especially in the last decade of political turmoil, the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia has remained focused on the support that has enabled serious development of civil society, something we still do today. We remain committed to the values that have hitherto been our motivation for work – the rule of law, transparency and accountability of the authorities – at this time of preparations for North Macedonia’s NATO membership and the date for EU membership negotiations. Our focus remains on efforts to support reform processes that will help the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration, as well as efforts to provide access to quality services to citizens, and in particular to marginalized groups.
9 FACTS ABOUT THE FOUNDATION OPEN SOCIETY- MACEDONIA
- With the creation of the Foundation in 1992, George Soros became one of the first international figures to lobby for recognition and support of Macedonia. In 1993, when borders were closed and the state faced a catastrophic crisis, Soros gave the government a $ 25 million loan to buy heating oil. In this way, he sent a clear message to the international community that Macedonia is a country that has perspective and needs help.
- In 1993-94, when the borders to the north and south were blocked, the Foundation, with financial backing, enabled Macedonian agricultural products to reach markets abroad. Through air cargo shipments and through the so-called “Green Corridor”, we have enabled fast and economical transportation of products to markets in Croatia and Slovenia.
- After the 2001 conflict, we provided new transmitters and antenna systems for radio and television stations that were damaged during armed clashes. The information gloom was soon discontinued and citizens were able to follow the news regularly and get information on the new Ohrid Framework Agreement, thus making the Foundation an important contributor to the promotion of national unity.
- Until 2004, the Foundation was the only organization that provided internet connection and free internet for hospitals, museums, theaters and high schools in the country.
- In 2008, when the global economic crisis broke out, the Foundation provided nearly $ 2 million in emergency aid for small entrepreneurs, farmers and citizens, as well as school supplies and backpacks for more than 19,000 children from poor families.
- More than 5,000 citizens have received scholarships for multiple degrees of education, both domestically and abroad, at many prestigious universities including the Central European University. The scholarships awarded by the Foundation have and still have enormous significance for the development of Macedonian society.
- Through our long-term support of approximately $ 9 million, we have enabled the development of independent media in the country, and thus freedom of speech, through numerous training for journalists but also through the means of equipping more media outlets.
- The Foundation is the first organization that helped establish the civil society in Macedonia. Today, the Foundation also strongly supports the development of CSOs, enabling active citizen participation in building the idea of an open and democratic society.
- To support the development of democracy in Macedonia, George Soros has provided over $ 100 million through the Open Society Foundations. Since 2000, the Macedonian Foundation has provided an additional $ 36 million from more donors from the United States, Switzerland, France, the European Union and other countries.