MIA News

Kostadinovska-Stojchevska: Cultural activities within U.S. Strategic Dialogue in advanced stage

The Macedonian-American Alumni Association (MAAA) organized a forum on the North Macedonia-United States Strategic Dialogue at the Skopje-based Daut Pasha Hammam on Wednesday, at which senior officials from the Government and the State Department, alongside MAAA members, discussed the possibilities and ways to further promote the Strategic Dialogue that focuses on strengthening the bilateral partnership.

US Ambassador Angela Aggeler and Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani gave keynote speeches, while Deputy PM for European Affairs Bojan Marichikj, MAAA President Verica Jordanova and other members also took part in the discussion, the Ministry of Culture said in a press release.

Minister of Culture Bisera Kostadinovska-Stojchevska also addressed the event and emphasized that the Strategic Dialogue is an extremely important document, which many consider to be equally important as the EU membership negotiations.

“This agreement did not only open a new qualitative chapter, but made our bilateral partnership more real, tangible, inspirational, and gave us cultural and identity security and importance. I am pleased to say that now culture is in a much more advanced stage regarding the realization of the Action Plan tasks,” said Kostadinovska-Stojchevska.

She pointed out that they have been working intensely to fulfill all prerequisites and ultimately sign a memorandum of understanding between the United States and North Macedonia to impose restrictions on the import of archeological and ethnological materials and artifacts.

In addition, she also mentioned the importance of the opportunity of using funds from the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, and that USD 1.5 million have already been allocated for the preservation of several localities and objects.

“We proposed, of course with support from the US Embassy, organizing workshops for the application of potential beneficiaries of this fund. The Ministry of Culture will allocate funds and add an educational component to the projects, which can be used as additional criteria that will bring more points during the evaluation process,” Kostadinovska-Stojchevska noted.

The Minister of Culture also highlighted young people’s minimal interest in the preservation of cultural heritage.

“We are trying to figure out how to systemically engage retired personnel so that they too can help create worthy successors. In order to bridge that period and make this profession appealing to young people, we need support from the culture section of the Strategic Dialogue,” Kostadinovska-Stojchevska said.

According to her, it is very important to raise the level of practical knowledge and improve expert’s skills on handling museum collections, in order to establish an innovative presentation of museum contents through interactive communication with the public, implement safety and security protocols in museums. For this purpose, cooperation with related institutions from the United States is invaluable.

“That is why the Ministry of Culture proposed that by 2028 we organize education exchange programs where our museum experts who know how to handle museum collections exchange knowledge with museum experts from the United States. Initial contacts have already been made,” Kostadinovska-Stojchevska informed.

She added that organizing master classes for talented young musicians from North Macedonia with professors from the United States is also important for their development and the quality of the music scene in North Macedonia.

“We also want to cooperate with the MANA contemporary arts center where our artists, curators and other performers can visit and open exhibitions. In order for this to happen, I invite all representatives from the institutions we cooperate with to come again next year so that we can establish direct contact with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Manhattan School of Music and Smithsonian where we can exhibit our graphite-paper icons from the late Middle Ages and a collection from the museum in Prilep,” underlined Kostadinovska-Stojchevska.