In 2002, Interpeace brought together a multi-ethnic team of local experts to support the peace and reconciliation process in Macedonia following the conflict.
The team took the Macedonian word for singing, pev, as the basis for their name, the Project for Common Vision. It strongly believed that “the time had come for everyone not to just talk to each other but to start singing together again.”
PEV created an opportunity for citizens of different ethnic origins and political affiliations to have their voices heard in a neutral and safe environment, and to propose solutions to the deep rifts caused both by the conflict and previously unsolved problems.
Interpeace’s work came at a time of renewed public discontent. Decentralization of state decision-making and plans to redraw municipal borders in certain areas were major sources of division between Macedonians and ethnic Albanians as well as between political parties.
PEV extensively consulted with all sectors of society, listening to and bringing together previously isolated or opposing groups, as well as members of ethnic Albanian diaspora in Switzerland, to discuss key areas of concern.
The project created room for people from across the divide to talk and meet face to face. This helped them to better understand and trust each other. Their confidence in their ability to articulate their vision and influence the political process also grew. The results of PEV’s research and consultations showed that a large majority of the population wanted a stable, inclusive multi-ethnic society as well as a state that allows for peaceful coexistence. Most people saw economic and social issues as the main challenges to the new state, rather than combating ethnic tension. According to the participants, institutional ethnic discrimination in access to jobs, education and health care were the real reasons behind the violence.
In September 2004, the project had completed its two and a half year life cycle and, with a lack of donor support, a decision was taken not to extend it. Cooperation between politicians, social organisations and the people remains a major challenge in establishing a truly pluralist Macedonian society.