OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) Knut Vollebaek has stressed the need for governments to promote integration of society during the last official visit of his mandate to Skopje from 22 to 24 May 2013.
Vollebaek discussed the existing ethnic divide in the country and the potential threats to long term stability in meetings with Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki and Education and Science Minister Pance Kralev, as well as the leaders of all political parties. He also had a roundtable discussion with civil society representatives to talk about challenges to integration.
He urged the authorities to commit to facilitating the integration of society and take action to complement the 2001 Ohrid Framework Agreement with measures for social cohesion.
In a speech at the South East European University, Tetovo, during the visit he reinforced his message: “You are at a crossroads. On one side, you have a path towards integration, peace and stability, and on the other side, you have the road to division and separation.” The speech draws on the HCNM’s recently published Ljubljana Guidelines on Integration of Diverse Societies and his six years of active engagement tackling integration and other related issues.
Vollebaek’s mandate as HCNM ends this summer when a new HCNM will take over the role.