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Progressive government in northern Macedonia works on human rights

After a peaceful revolution, Prime Minister Zaev's progressive government has made great strides in a short time: improved relations with neighbouring countries, signed a historic agreement with Greece and made strides in Euro-Atlantic integration. The country is also breaking with illiberal trends in neighbouring countries in the field of human rights and equality. For instance, the rights of LGBT people are on the agenda of a political party for the first time in Macedonia.

In cooperation with the Serbian Center of Modern Skills and with support from UK Labour, Foundation Max van der Stoel provided a training on human rights - with a focus on rights of LGBT people in the Macedonian town of Bitola. Previously, we organised these trainings in Montenegro and Serbia, and a similar training will take place in Bosnia-Herzegovina at the end of March. The aim of the training is to raise awareness about minority rights and put them higher on the agenda of political parties. To this end, our trainers have developed a special interactive module with role-plays to be used in the trainings. As a result, an action plan was drawn up which, among other things, included developing an LGBT policy document and making it part of the party programme. In addition, we plan to organise a follow-up with MPs from the ruling SDSM who are members of the human rights committee in the Macedonian parliament.

June 2019 is important for northern Macedonia. The country hopes then that the heads of government of EU member states will give the green light for the start of EU accession negotiations, a long-drawn-out period during which the Union will have a lot of influence on reforms in the country, for instance in the fields of rule of law and democracy.