Macedonia declared itself an independent republic in 1991 in the same period that Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia broke out of the disintegrating Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This was yet another scene in a dream which has been unfolding for generations. Yet, as is so often the case, this dream conflicts with those of other peoples and other nation-states, with, as we have seen in Bosnia, potentially disastrous consequences.In the case of Macedonia, the international community took unprecedented steps to head off disaster. Macedonia became an important laboratory for UN and international intervention, focusing attention on such questions as: Is it possible for the international community to identify potential armed conflicts before they break out? If so, is it possible to devise and put in place preventive measures? Can international non-governmental organisations contribute to building peace in ethnically-fragmented societies?
In this report, the author examines the external and internal factors influencing relationships between the ethnic communities in Macedonia, and the role of an NGO Search for Common Ground in Macedonia in attempting to improve their relationships. This role has shifted from an emphasis on high-level Track II diplomacy to communty-level projects, compatible with Unesco's concept of a Culture of Peace.