Goce Todoroski
Country/region: Macedonia
Conflict: Armed conflict in 2001, inter-ethnic conflict to the present day
Organisation: Center for Civic Initiative
Field of work: Inter-ethnic youth work

In the year 2001 Macedonia experienced a short, violent conflict between ethnic Albanians (National Liberation Army), the rebels and the Macedonian security forces, which cost dozens of lives on both sides. To the present day the fragile state of inter-ethnic relationships is still noticeable, particularly in southern Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Prejudices and stereotypes are difficult to eradicate and there is a lack of trust and understanding.

Young people are particularly affected, as the experiences of the Center for Civic Initiative show. Many people still think in terms of enemy stereotypes and regard these as normal, even though they may not be able to explain why.
This is the starting point for the organization led by Goce Todoroski which has, with its Circle of Trust, developed a method for creating conflict transformation that can be learned by teachers from multi-ethnic schools at a three-day-workshop.
Most conflicts arising at schools are based on ethnicity and gender, together with a lack of communication among teachers, pupils and parents, and an absence of interest in resolving the conflict.

At the Circles of Trust everyone can tell his or her story, while the others listen. All participants are invited to talk openly and freely about their feelings.

The objective is to understand the wishes, fears and individual needs of all those present. This helps to build up trust and enable interpersonal relationships, directly from person to person, regardless of their individual ethnic background.

From the Circles of Trust Goce Todoroski expects rapid and positive changes among the young people of Macedonia, together with increased conflict transformation skills on the part of teachers. Those teachers who have already been trained in the method confirm that this approach improves relationships within their schools, to the benefit of communication and networks.

In 2009, the Center for Civic Initiative was also working on ensuring the right to education in Juvenile Correction Facility Tetovo in Macedonia. Through this project, not only the legislation was discussed, but also conflict transformation methodology of Circles of Trust.

Today 22 schools from the country are included in projects for building trust, and a manual is produced informing teachers about the Circle of Trust method and further possibilities for conflict transformation. Among other partners Goce Todoroski and his organization are supported by zivik, the German Embassy in Skopje, the Berghof Foundation, Royal Norway Embassy in Belgrade, British Embassy in Skopje and others.