Strengthening the institutional capacities for implementation of the Community Leader Initiative and approval of Local Action Groups in Macedonia

At the end of May 2018, the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food successfully completed the bilateral technical assistance project between Slovenia and Macedonia named: "Strengthening the institutional capacities for implementation of the Community Leader Initiative and approval of Local Action Groups in Macedonia".

In four missions of five days, six Slovenian experts from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food including one external expert from the Slovenian National Rural Network have supported the work of the Macedonian administration: Managing Authority of the IPARD 2014–2020 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy (MAFWE), the Association of Municipalities (ZELS) and the non- governmental organizations (NGOs) from Macedonia's rural areas (so called pre-LAGs).

The main objective of this project worth almost 16.200 EUR was to register the existing NGOs – pre-LAGs. More specifically, to support the Macedonian administration to launch the necessary activities to set up the management system for the LEADER approach in Macedonia, and to establish the National Rural Network.

During the missions, held both at the MAFWE and on the spot in the rural areas of Macedonia, the Slovenian experts provided advice, technical assistance and shared their knowledge with the Macedonian administration, the Local administrative units, as well as individuals involved in the rural development within various NGOs to develop the LEADER approach and the necessary structure in the form of Local Action Groups (LAGs). The long-term aim of the project is to improve the socio-economic situation of the population in rural and remote areas of Macedonia and to boost attractiveness of rural areas for local and outside investors.

At the closing conference held on 30 May 2018 at the MAFWE in Skopje, the Slovenian experts and representatives of MAFWE presented the key results of the project: the set-up of the management system for the LEADER approach in Macedonia and the registration of Local Action Groups (LAGs). The highlight of the closing conference was the ceremony, where the agricultural minister Ljupcho Nikolovski handed over 13 decisions for the registration of LAGs.