News from the project “SMART-CUL-TOUR”, implemented under the 2nd call for proposals of the IPA CBC Programme North Macedonia – Albania 2014-2020

Project name: “SMART-CUL-TOUR”.

Lead applicant: Municipality of Bitola (MK)

Co-applicants: Municipality of Pustec (AL); National Institution for Protection of Cultural Monuments and Museum Bitola (MK); Regional Culture Directorate Korca (AL); Youth Cultural Center Bitola (MK).

Website: http://www.bitola.gov.mk/smart-cul-tour/https://muzejbitola.mk/en/smart-cul-tour/; https://mkcbt.org.mk/

Location: Pelagonija and Korce cross-border region

 

Smart-Cul-Tour partnership is an accelerator which encourages tourism, promotes and protects cultural and natural heritage, fosters cooperation between members of communities in the cross-border region, initiates exchange of knowledge and experience, with the aim of ensuring a balanced and sustainable socio-economic development in the cross-border region of Pelagonija and Korca. The project affects the protection and promotion of cultural heritage in the region and initiates cooperation between various entities, especially in the field of culture and tourism. Furthermore, it contributes to raising public awareness of the values of cultural and natural heritage, improves and increases their capacity, as well as accessibility for different target groups, especially people with disabilities. Cultural heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, values, places, objects and artistic expressions. Culture and cultural heritage reflect and shape beliefs, values and aspirations, thus defining people’s identity. It is important to preserve our cultural heritage, because it maintains our integrity as a nation (s).

The infrastructural elements of the Smart-Cul-Tour:

  • Reconstruction of the existing old school building and establishment of a museum in honour of the writer Sterjo Spasse in the village Globocani, Municipality of Pustec.

Sterjo Spasse is one of the most important Albanian writers, of Macedonian origin, in modern Albanian literature at the end of the 20th century and author of several novels and short stories. Sterjo fought for the use of a standardized variety of literary language in school curriculum, in newspapers and on the radio, he fought for a unified primer, he was a missionary of progress, especially in the countryside. In his honour, the old school building in the village Globocani, his native town, has grown into a representative space. In addition to the museum exhibition of Sterjo Spasse’s personal belongings, it is also a multiple purpose hall used for conferences, trainings; a venue for cultural and other events. Moreover, visitors are offered an opportunity to have special experience through virtual reality with equipment offered by the museum itself and augmented reality at 2 points in the museum that can be experienced using their own smart device (phone, tablet …).

  • Reconstruction/improvement of the infrastructure in the archaeological site Heraclea Lyncestis, in Bitola.

In addition, construction works have been carried out in the archaeological site itself in order to increase its accessibility and improve its offer. The implementation of these developments was supervised by the NI “Institute and Museum” – Bitola. Visitor-monitoring units have been set up at the entrance of the site, which enables the museum to maintain accurate records of the visitors of Heraclea. The path which leads from the site entrance to the ancient theater has been paved with stone. A lift and an incline ramp have been installed next to the path to facilitate the access of disabled people to the theater, which was impossible until now. The path is illuminated with photovoltaic lamps along its entire length. The lookout-terrace opposite the theatre has been reconstructed and now it offers an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the entire site. Visitors have the opportunity to relax and refresh. This space is equipped with benches, tables and chairs. From the terrace, you can enter the museum exhibition, which has been equipped with new cabinets and pedestal display cases and the exhibits have been reorganized. In order to utilise the theatre space better and take advantage of its versatile use, appropriate practical solutions have been applied to construct a stage of maximum area of 100m2. In particular, the damaged concrete base has been covered, which now enables the organization of events in which numerous folklore groups participate. The offer also includes inventive digital solutions, i.e. visitors have the opportunity to access a multilingual guide by using the application on their smartphones. Another novelty at the archaeological site is the possibility for visitors to have a unique experience at the ancient theatre through virtual reality with the equipment offered by the site and the augmented reality from 3 points at the site by using their own smart device (phone, tablet …).

  • Reconstruction of the access street, the so-called “Roman road”, including the pedestrian path to the archaeological site Heraclea Lyncestis in Bitola.

The dilapidated and damaged asphalt pavement has been removed and replaced with granite stones. On the right side, a pedestrian path of finer granite stones has also been built along the carriageway to access the site. It is illuminated with photovoltaic lamps along its entire length, to the entrance of the site of Heraclea Lyncestis. In this way, the so-called Roman Road, which is essentially a section of the former Via Egnatia, looks authentic and provides convenient access to the Heraclea Lyncestis archaeological site.

  • Establishment of a permanent exhibition at the Museum “Sterjo Spasse” in the village Globocani, Municipality of Pustec;
  • Renovated museum exhibition space and souvenir shop at the Heraclea Lyncestis archaeological site
  • Development of a multilingual audio guide for the archaeological site of Heraclea Lyncestis
  • Development and commissioning of appropriate equipment for virtual and augmented reality for the archaeological site Heraclea Lyncestis and the museum of Sterjo Spasse in Globocani;
  • Development, promotion and sale of integrated package tours of cross-border character;

News from the project “Flood Prevention for Environment Protection”, implemented under the 2nd call for proposals of the IPA CBC Programme North Macedonia – Albania 2014-2020

Project name: Flood Prevention for Environment Protection”.

Lead applicant: Association Center for Civic Initiative Prilep (MK);

Co- applicants: Destination Management Organization (AL); Municipality of Mogila (MK); Municipality of Maliq (AL).

Website: www.fpep-cbc.mk.

Location: Municipality of Mogila in North Macedonia and Municipality of Maliq in Albania

The regions around the municipalities of Mogila in North Macedonia and Maliq in Albania are prone to adverse weather and climatic phenomena, especially heavy storms and rainfalls resulting in local flooding and landslides damaging roads, private properties and agricultural land. The rivers Devoll in Mailq and Crna Reka and Shemenica in Mogila are facing increased spatial and temporal variability of water resources which is among the key natural factors increasing the flooding risk, besides topographic and land characteristics, and a relatively dense hydrographic network in the most affected regions. Additional causes of the growing flooding risk include: a) reduced conveyance/discharge capacity of existing regulated river sections (e.g., because of poor maintenance of existing river regulations, conversion of floodplains/river corridors); b) aging/poorly maintained hydraulic/flood control infrastructure (e.g., drainage systems, embankments and levees); and c) operating regimes of existing multi-purpose dams/reservoirs not optimized properly to enable better flood risk mitigation. Agriculture, extending dominantly along rivers, is the economic sector most affected by floods. At the same time agriculture plays the most important role in securing income for households in the affected regions. The growing flooding risk makes agriculture a particularly vulnerable sector, which most directly influences socio-economic stability of communities.

In order to strengthen the resilience, the disaster risk preparedness and to prevent floods for protection of the environment, the livelihoods and the agricultural lands the project team has taken the following actions:

Improved public infrastructure

In order to ensure the protection of agricultural lands and livelihoods:

  • Drainage canals in both of the municipalities Mogila and Maliq in length of 6 km have been built;
  • 2 hydrological stations placed on the rivers Devoll in Maliq and Crna Reka in Mogila that measure the water level in the rivers;
  • Mobile application developed for early warning of floods and weather changes alerts;
  • Tools provided for cleaning of the canals.

Cross-border cooperation and joint approach

In order to establish a joint approach between both municipalities:

  • Action plans for floods management developed for the each of the municipalities of Mogila and Maliq;
  • A Joint risk management plan developed for joint approach and support for protection and management of floods.

Awareness rising and preparedness of the population

In order to motivate and prepare the agro-producers and local population for management and prevention from floods:

  • Specialised trainings for the agro-producers for flood management;
  • Community forums for inclusion of the community in the flood prevention and management;
  • Exchange visits among the agro-producers in the cross-border region;
  • Awareness rising and cleaning actions with students.

With this EU funded action, more than 12,000 people have been directly protected from flooding despite the frequent massive rain falling in these regions. The local population is now prepared and motivated to continue taking action for protection of the environment and protection of their agricultural lands and livelihoods not only from floods, but also from other natural disasters.

12th Meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the IPA CBC Programme MK-AL 2014-2020

On 10th of February 2022, in Krusevo, North Macedonia, the JMC held the 12th meeting under IPA II CBC Programme North Macedonia – Albania 2014-2020. In this meeting, the most important topics discussed were related to: (1) approval of the Annual Implementation Report for the year 2021; (2) approval of the Annual Work Plan for the year 2022; (3) status of the strategic project idea. The JMC had approved the AIR for 2021 with the comments provided by DEU and the AWP for the year 2022. Also, both OSs should commit themselves by providing and fulfilling the conditionalities (bilateral agreement/legislation, environmental impact assessment) by the middle of 2022. The revised action plan and time schedule to be prepared by the OSs and submitted to DEU with all steps and actions to fulfill the conditionalities.

Meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the IPA CBC Programme MK-AL 2014-2020 with the Mayor of the Municipality of Krusevo, North Macedonia for the presentation of the project “Krusevo and Elbasan – acknowledged tourism CB destination” implemented under the 3rd call.

On 9th of February 2022, the JMC had participated in the meeting with the Mayor of the Municipality of Krusevo, North Macedonia at the Hotel “Montana” premisses in Krusevo where was presented the project “Krusevo and Elbasan – acknowledged tourism CB destination” funded under the 3rd call for proposals of this CBC Programme. The Municipality of Krusevo staff made a presentation of the project objectives, activities to be organized, expected results to be achieved, the partnership etc through power point presentation. The JMC members asked several questions and wished to this project a successful implementation.

Open Call for “Research Papers for the projects implemented under IPA 2007-2013 and IPA 2014-2020 Cross-Border Cooperation Programme between North Macedonia and Albania

Both Operating Structures of the IPA II CBC Programme North Macedonia – Albania launched a contest for the selection of applicants preparing project implementation research papers in November 2021 (IPA CBC programmes North Macedonia – Albania (IPA 1 2007-2013 and IPA 2 2014-2020). The OSs are interested in knowing how the implementation of the IPA CBC Programme between North Macedonia and Albania contributes to improving the lives of inhabitants in the programmme area. They are also interested in raising awareness, collecting and generating data, and analysing the neighbouring policy in the areas along the shared borders of those countries. The call will involve applicants from North Macedonia and Albania according to the eligibility criteria set out in the guidelines for this call. The application procedure was distributed to the potential interested stakeholders, especially Universities in the programme eligible area, according to the JTS database and official website posts of the OSs. The deadline for submission of entries is on the 15 February 2022. There had been organized two info sessions for the promotion of this open call for “Research Papers” to be prepared by students for the projects implemented under IPA 1 and 2 CBC Programme North Macedonia – Albania. The first session was organized in Hotel “Kapri”, Bitola, North Macedonia on 23.12.2021 with 40 participants, whilst the second at the premises of the University “Aleksander Xhuvani” of Elbasan on 26.01.2022 with 38 participants. The evaluation procedure is ongoing.

Call for expression of interest addressed to local government units (municipalities) in the eligible area of the IPA CBC programme North Macedonia – Albania 2014-2020 to participate in the “Municipality Support Programme”.

In the frame of this CBC Programme, both OSs announced the call for expression of interest to Municipalities within the eligible area of the Programme titled “Participation in the Municipality Support Programme” of the IPA CBC Programme North Macedonia-Albania 2014-2020”. This Call for expression of interest is addressed to all LGUs within the programme eligible area. Such participation aims to contribute to strengthening the capacity of municipalities to prepare and implement expected quality cross-border projects, as well as to establish partnerships with the municipalities in the programme eligible area. This will jointly expose the experience in designing and implementing CBC projects funded by the EU. The Call for expression of interest and the Expression of interest template had been addressed to all the LGUs from the programme eligible area and posted on the official websites of the OSs and of the programme on 23rd of November 2021. The deadline to submit the expression of interest was 31 December 2021. The interest shown was high determined by the number letters for expressing the interest.

Call for engaging two Experts to develop the “Municipality Support Programme” under the IPA CBC programme North Macedonia – Albania 2014-2020

Both OSs announced the vacancy for hiring two (2) Experts to develop the “Municipality Support Programme”, under the current Technical Assistance of the IPA 2014-2020 Cross-Border Cooperation Programme between the Republic of North Macedonia and Republic of Albania. The Experts will be hired under this TA with a role in aiding the municipalities in the CBC Programme eligible area in design, preparation, and implementation of CBC projects. The focus of this activity will be directly supporting municipalities in the CBC programme area to be awarded with a contract under the call for proposals. The application procedure was distributed to all interested candidates and stakeholders according the JTS database. The application procedure was also posted on the official websites of the OSs and of the programme, with a 30 November 2021 deadline. There had been submitted a total of 16 applications together with the supporting documents as asked in the ToRs and announcement within the given deadline. The evaluation committee had selected and signed contracts with two Experts and the activity is ongoing.

Visibility show: “Past. Tradition. Future. The Way We Interact”.

“Past. Tradition. Future. The Way We Interact” was the title of the 7th celebration of the European Territorial Cooperation Day, which took place on October 21, 2021 at the Main Pedestrian Street in Korça, Albania.

This visibility event was organized by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in Albania in cooperation with the Ministry of Local Self-Government in North Macedonia, as the operation structures responsible for the implementation of the IPA Cross-Border Cooperation Programme between Republic of North Macedonia and Republic of Albania, supported by the JTS of the programme.

The event involved a mix of activities such as EU Ambassadors exchange conversation with journalists from both countries, greeting speeches by high officials, traditional dances, gastronomy, handcrafts, fashion, presentation of the projects under implementation all together.

This event united more than 150 participants from various profiles professionals in the field of tourism, representatives of the NGO sector, local government, business sector, artisans from both countries, as well as

Over 150 participants were united from different profiles such as professionals in the field of tourism, representatives of civil society organizations, local government, business sector, artisans/craftsmen, representatives from the media, young artists and fashion designers from the Faculties of Arts from both countries.

The main focus was the identification of opportunities for tourism development, promotion of cooperation in the cross-border area between North Macedonia and Albania, to show concrete examples of collaboration between people, as well as promoting the results of the projects under implementation following the 2nd call of this CBC programme.

The celebration day had started with the Ambassadors from the EU Delegations exchanging and have conversation with journalists from both countries

High officials representing both Ministries, Ambassadors from Delegations of the EU and the Mayor of the Municipality of Korça greeted the guests at the event.

The projects from the 2nd Call under implementation in order to illustrate the synergy of the regional cooperation so far, presented and promoted the achieved results through videos and statements and showcased how they are supporting local communities in this area.

As part of the activities was the official visiting from EU Ambassadors representatives of both Ministries and Mayor of Korça to the projects: “Innovative practices for environmental protection” and “Flood prevention for environment protection” implemented in the region of Korça under this CBC Programme.

At the event students from Fashion Faculties from Tirana and Skopje made traditional dresses from the past in new modern versions.

Additionally, the visitors enjoyed the traditional folklore groups with youngsters, played local music as well as witnessed the cross-border fairs of artisans and gastronomes from both countries who presented their products, promoting the programme area and interacting with each other, while the locals enjoyed the gastronomy and indulged in the handcrafts.

 

 

11th Meeting of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the IPA CBC Programme MK-AL 2014-2020

On 19th of October 2021, in Bitola, North Macedonia, the Joint Monitoring Committee held the 11th meeting under IPA II CBC Programme North Macedonia – Albania 2014-2020. In this meeting, the most important topics discussed were related to: (1) the status of the strategic project idea “Ohrid Lake – Bridging two countries towards one destination”, for the strategic vision under IPA III financial perspective; (2) the introduction, discussion and provision of advisory opinion on the operations suggested to be funded, 3rd call for proposals. For the first topic, the JMC had agreed that both OSs should commit themselves by providing and fulfilling the conditionalities (bilateral agreement/legislation, environmental impact assessment) by the middle of the next year (2022). The revised action plan and time schedule to be prepared by the OSs and submitted to DEU with all steps for 5 months with meetings with institutions and actions to fulfill the conditionalities.

For the second topic, it was agreed that the JMC members will send the advisory opinion on the list of operations selected under the 3rd call for proposal that was distributed on the JMC meeting, via the written procedure. On 2nd of December 2021 the advisory opinion on the list of operations selected under the 3rd call for proposal had been submitted officially to the Delegation of the European Union to North Macedonia.

Visits of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the IPA CBC Programme MK-AL 2014-2020 to the projects implemented under the 2nd call for proposals

In order to see the results of projects implemented by the Grant beneficiaries under the 2nd Call, on 18th of October 2021, the JMC had visited the premises of the “Multifunctional Centre” reconstructed under the project “Discovering hidden attractions” executed by the Municipality of Demir Hisar in Sloestica, Demir Hisar, North Macedonia, and the premises of the “Ancient town Heraclea Lyncestis” reconstructed under the project “SMART-CUL-TUR” applied by the Municipality of Bitola in Bitola, North Macedonia.