PR to keep peace after ethnic battle

WASHINGTON: PR agencies may soon be competing to help the US

government spread the word in Macedonia about the peace deal it recently

helped broker.



An RFP is likely to be issued in the fall if the government decides to

undertake the public education campaign.



Ethnic Albanians, who make up approximately a third of Macedonia's two

million people, began fighting in February for greater rights and

recognition of their culture and language. The peace plan, brokered by

the US and European Union, calls for expanded freedoms for the ethnic

Albanians, who would in turn recognize the legitimacy of the Macedonian

state.



A spokeswoman for the US Agency of International Development, which

would likely handle the campaign, said no decision has yet been made,

and refuted an August 17 Washington Post article claiming a $250,000 advertising and lobbying campaign was underway to help ensure

the ratification of the accord.



A decision will be made in the next few weeks, the spokeswoman said,

after which an RFP may be issued. A budget for the campaign is yet to be

decided.



"Any campaign will be a part of our support for democracy and increasing

the public awareness in Macedonia about the debates going on there and

about the agreement itself," she said.



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