Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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What ?


Where ?

When ?

With whom ?

Building and managing a 70 NGOs coalition in Macedonia+
Building and managing a 70 NGOs coalition in Macedonia


Inter-ethnic issues; Civil Society; Peace building


Dialogue management; Fundraising; NGO management; Track II diplomacy; Conflict resolution




The armed conflict of 2001 in Macedonia left a society divided along ethnic lines. The fragile Ohrid peace agreement required quick measures for building confidence in the communities.


2001, 2002, 2003, 2004

What exactly?

In the midst of the conflict I set out to establish an inter-ethnic network of NGOs along with the European Centre for Minority Issues.

I travelled around the country meeting with communities, citizens and villagers to find those NGOs that were truly committed to improving inter-ethnic relations in the country. The ECMI NGO Network for Improvement of Inter-ethnic Relations in Macedonia was launched with a core group of 17 NGOs from across the country and ethnic groups. Gradually the network grew to a 70 member strong group that engaged in joint design and implementation of grassroots projects. Sunoor headed an umbrella grants program, administering and monitoring 50–70 community projects each year. The project carried a strong capacity enhancement component with emphasis on ethics for the participating NGO Managers.

This project benefitted very much from the guidance and commitment of Farimah Daftary of the ECMI. When no international expert was willing to travel to Macedonia due to the armed conflict, Farimah headed to Macedonia to meet with stakeholders and do a direct assessment of the ground realities. Her research and reporting were instrumental in the project receiving its seed grant. Dr. Eben Friedman succeeded Farimah Daftary at the ECMI as the focal point for Macedonia and maintained the high standards set by Farimah.

Farimah and Eben have contributed to civil society development in Macedonia in the most low profiles yet most effective way. Both heroes!

With- whom?

European Centre for Minority Issues

Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretariat for Peace and Stability)

Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Sida Sweden


What happened?

Established the first truly multi-ethnic network of NGOs in Macedonia consisting of 70 NGOs committed to improving inter-ethnic relations.

50–70 community projects generated and implemented each year jointly by NGOs members of the Network.

Network becomes reference point for good practices and NGO ethics in Macedonia.

External Evaluation of “ECMI NGO Network for the Improvement of Interethnic Relations in the Republic of Macedonia” 15-19 April 2003

“ In the words of Regional Representative Dr. Sunoor Verma, the Regional Office in Skopje aims to be a model office in terms of professional standards, transparency and accountability. The evaluator gained the impression that the office very much lives up to this goal. The Regional Representative, Dr. Verma is obviously a perfect choice: he is not only very committed to the success of the Network, but also very competent. His critical view of the donor-driven character of much of the NGO activities in Macedonia, especially in the realm of improvement of inter-ethnic relations, helps to make the ECMI Network genuinely innovative in that context. He maintains close contacts with relevant donor and other institutions, and is respected by the member organisations of the Network.”

Department of Southeast European History, University of Graz
Graz, Austria