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Newsroom Fact sheet

The Open Society Foundations in North Macedonia

The Foundation Open Society–Macedonia is part of the Open Society Foundations. Since 1992, the national foundation has given over $100 million to support North Macedonia’s social and economic stability and prosperity. It has raised an additional $36 million from the United States, Switzerland, France, the European Union, and others to support development work in the country.

When the foundation began its work in 1992, Greece and Serbia were blockading Macedonia’s borders, the regional wars were stirring up ethnic tensions, and there were questions about whether the country would maintain its independence. The new foundation responded by providing vital support, including essential medical supplies, fuel oil for schools, and export assistance for farmers.

After settling its long-running dispute with Greece, North Macedonia is preparing for EU membership. Staffed with local experts and guided by a board of respected local advisors, the foundation remains committed to the values that have motivated its work from its beginning: accountability, transparency, and justice. Its work includes civil society development and engagement, promoting the rule of law and government accountability, empowerment of Roma and other marginalized groups, as well as modernization and reform in health care and education.

Nine facts about North Macedonia and the Open Society Foundations:

  1. When he set up the foundation in 1992, George Soros became one of the first international figures to personally advocate for international recognition and support for Macedonia.
  2. In 1993, as the newly independent state faced a profound economic crisis, Soros loaned $25 million to the government to buy heating oil for schools, which was the first loan of its kind to the new nation.
  3. When the Yugoslav conflict closed vital export routes in 1993 and 1994, the foundation provided financial support so that Macedonian fruits and vegetables could still reach markets in Croatia and Slovenia.
  4. In 2001, in the aftermath of the fighting that erupted in northern Macedonia, the foundation funded the rapid replacement of damaged radio and television transmitters and equipment, enabling news of the subsequent Ohrid Agreement to travel rapidly across the country.
  5. The foundation played a leading role in connecting Macedonia to the internet, funding both the nascent national network, and providing free internet access for hospitals, museums, theaters, and schools.
  6. In 2008, after the global economic downturn, the Foundation provided school supplies and backpacks to more than 19,000 children as part of a $2 million package of emergency assistance, which also benefited small entrepreneurs and farmers.
  7. More than 5,000 citizens from Macedonia have received scholarships from the Open Society Foundations for university studies at home and abroad, including at the Central European University.
  8. Since 1992, the foundation has spent around $9 million supporting media pluralism and freedom of speech, training and equipping journalists, and helping to fund independent news outlets.
  9. The foundation has worked for more than two decades with government and other institutions to develop an inclusive approach to the policy reforms needed for closer EU integration, with a focus on engaging independent civil society groups in the process.

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