November 22, 1999

"With e-mail and Internet it has become so much more easy to generate and share ideas instantly. Below you find 53 different ideas about peace in Macedonia from people around the world who responded to our call in the preceding PressInfo. It's a free gift to anyone who cares to listen and take inspiration - many could also be implemented in Kosovo," says TFF director Jan Oberg. 

"Our respondents are not a representative sample but, among other things, this exciting experiment shows that:
1) there are so many ideas out there and an amazing willingness to contribute constructively;
2) people who have not been to Macedonia can share ideas and initiatives that have worked in other conflicts, a general body of knowledge and experiences are developing;
3) they focus much more on the human dimensions of conflict-resolution than governments do;
4) they by and large reject military means in peacebuilding, and
5) they focus on local forces and bottom-up approaches rather than top-down, foreign imposed peace - indeed, quite a few tell us right away that the West in general and NATO in particular should stay away. This is a very moving appeal. People obviously must be given a chance to find their own solutions.

We have chosen not to list the ideas theme-wise. Enjoy them as a bouquet. We just edited and shortened what we got - in some cases actually whole articles. TFF does not endorse every idea, but we convey them all for your inspiration," says Oberg.

Develop a true image of the place
It's a great problem that, regarding the Balkans, East Timor, Colombia, Haiti, Ecuador, Cuba, North Korea and many places in Africa, we may not have a broad enough image of what it is all about. Modern media should show us peacebuilding efforts, accompaniment, non-violent direct-action and cover it live. That would give people hope that something can be done. So, peace news and not only war news, please.

NATO is not for peace
It is disastrous for Macedonia and others to accept NATO as the "international community"; NATO is a military alliance of countries whose goals are the realisation of the policies and interests of the transnational corporations and the economic neo-liberal agenda of the wealthy countries. And each country with its specific problems should not expect NATO to solve them by means of its standard military package.

Go for the European Union, in spite of all
The far-from-perfect European Union points to the economic advantages of cooperation and the increased political clout of the whole region. It is a feasible model of a union of sovereign states, particularly if they pursue a course of people-oriented social and economic policies.

Development and politics from below is basic democracy
Countries such as Macedonia should develop their own political structures and not simply model them on those of the wealth-driven western "democracies." Rather, go for the "bottom up" approach in which local councils are at the base of the political  system, and are thus more sensitive to the issues which dominate everyday life of citizens. These local councils then elect the legislators at the higher level of governance, which assures local  input into national political decision-making. Such a system can break free of the rigidities of ideologically dogmatic party politics.

The Balkans between Third World and Rich World
It would be a stimulating challenge to the Balkan states to take on the role of leadership in the gap between rich and third-world countries, which they could only do by cooperative action and a "global"view which wipes out all traditionally corrosive "ethnic" biases.

Great Peace personalities must be found
All (!) it takes is a Gandhi, a Mandela, or someone like them. Perhaps only deep conviction with a  morally-based vision can open the gates to a rational and truly democratic new world order.

Let them find their own way. Don't impose peace
The people of Macedonia should be allowed to determine how peace should be maintained.  It may be (and I believe is) appropriate to assist them in this process. I do recommend facilitating group processes at all levels, from small groups of individuals to higher level groups.

Selfishness and materialism must be stopped
The root of the problem is selfishness and materialism. Selfishness not only on the part of the people living in Macedonia , but also of the people living in the rest of the world.

Love and personal commitment
Love God, love your fellow man, yes even love your enemy. We can all contribute and this is a nice way.