Towards the end of October 2009, Macedonia hosted the conference of the Federal Council of FICE International, which is – in accordance with the usual schedule – organised twice a year by a national committee. FICE Macedonia acted as the host on this occasion. Its National Section is part of FICE Southeast Europe and has been an official member of FICE International for several years. In addition to Macedonia, the countries of Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina also belong to FICE Southeast Europe.
In the field of youth welfare services, these countries have found common ground over a long period since the war in former Yugoslavia and excellent cooperation has been developed. Study conferences are organised and mutual projects are initiated annually.
Due to intense involvement of juveniles, FICE Switzerland and FICE Netherlands have been playing particularly important constructive roles in the above-mentioned region throughout the past years.
During the last few years FICE activities in Macedonia have significantly increased. There are numerous projects which involve close cooperation with other countries, such as the Friendship Camps involving young people from neighbouring countries as well as the visits made by colleagues from Israel and Romania, which take place every year. More than 100 members participated in the General Assembly last spring!
The Federal Council’s conference was held in Ohrid, Macedonia’s secret capital, which is beautifully located south to the sea of Ohrid and from time immemorial has been a great tourist attraction as well as UNESCO world heritage site, including the age-old Abbey of St. Naum. This abbey was built 1100 years ago and throughout the period following the Ottoman invasion even Muslims believed in St. Naum’s healing powers – just as devotees of orthodox religious movements did, who prayed for help and healing.
Set within these historical surroundings, the conference was well organised and met the full satisfaction of representatives of fifteen FICE nations. A particularly warm welcome was offered in Ohrid to the guests from the neighbouring country Albania’s youth welfare services, who participated in a meeting of the Federal Council for the first time. The establishment of a national committee in this country is planned for the coming months.
As usual, a crammed agenda was worked through. Topics such as the Q4C Project, the latest FICE brochure, the World Congress 2010 (in South Africa) and cooperation with foreign organisations such as AIEJI and ENSACT were addressed. Besides, a workshop was held, in the course of which FICE’s future and the development of professionalisation were discussed. Additionally, the Editorial Board and FICE-Europe held meetings.
Naturally an official welcome ceremony took place in Ohrid’s city hall. It included a speech made by the Vice Mayor who is also Director of Ohrid International Airport. Unfortunately, it was not possible to directly approach this airport in October, as it was throughout the summer months, if one were coming from Vienna, Zurich or Ljubljana. This meant that there was a long transfer from the capital Skopje to the conference hotel – a fantastic journey through a magnificent mountain landscape in a most hospitable country!