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Experts meet to discuss Macedonia’s future

The ethnic violence in Macedonia has left scars that will be hard to erase Keystone Archive

An international conference has opened in Interlaken to discuss the relationship between Macedonia's majority and its ethnic Albanian minority.

The three-day conference, which brings together Swiss and international experts, along with Macedonian specialists and personalities, comes after the Balkan republic was faced with armed ethnic conflict this summer.

International mediation brought about a cease-fire to the fighting between ethnic Albanian rebels and the country’s armed forces. The parliament in Skopje approved constitutional reforms last week that offer better representation to the Albanian-speaking minority.

Fragile reform

The reforms are, however, still opposed by some politicians and peaceful co-existence remains a fragile proposition. Experts do not rule out a renewal of hostilities in the future.

The conference, which began on Thursday, was organised by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The attendees will discuss constitutional reform, the role of political parties and the media, and that of professional organisations in social integration, among other topics.

The SDC’s aim is to offer a forum for discussion away from the hotbed of Macedonian politics. The participants from the Balkan state are expected to discuss the future of their country and new ideas, while the experts will contribute their own experiences.

The forum is part of the technical aid the SDC gives to Eastern Europe. Switzerland and Macedonia signed a financial and technical cooperation agreement in 1999.

swissinfo with agencies

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