The CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) coordinates a global activity in evidencing Effectiveness in COVID-19 response to catch the application of effective development cooperation (EDC) principles in national and sectoral strategies policies for COVID-19 response. As part of this global effort, country case studies have been conducted all across the world. In this regard, on 1 October 2020, BCSDN organized a regional webinar on the Zoom platform to present two case studies from Europe Region- Albania and Armenia.
The webinar was facilitated by Biljana Spasovska, BCSDN Executive Director, who presented a part of the next activities regarding the CPDE project implementation’s future steps, contributing to more reliable coordination and collaboration among the Balkans and the other region participating in the project. As a snapshot for the upcoming period, she pointed on: organization of regional training for country-level EDC engagements; Involvement of private sector in promoting effective development cooperation; creation of Mobility fund with a purpose to support constituency participation and advocacy activities and European and Global events.
Introduction and welcoming remarks were provided by CPDE Co-Chair Justin Kilcullen, who emphasized that even though COVID- 19 is a health crisis, the ongoing situation has still opened some new opportunities in terms of global partnership, enabling civil society to strengthen its role in the whole process. He also pointed on the CPDE mission and commitments towards strengthening civil society capacity, partnership building, promoting enabling environment, and supporting Belgrade Call for Action.
The event continued with Albania’s case study, presentation delivered by Klotilda Kosta, Director of programs, and Nina Keruti, Project Manager at BCSDN member, Partners Albania for Change and Development. The speakers indicated on the preventive and precautionary measures that the Albanian Government applied amid COVID. They argued on the socio-economic impact of COVID 19, the three financial packages from the Government, the ownership of the COVID-19 response, and the inclusive partnership amid the crisis. The speakers particularly highlighted the CSOs’ good practices and CSO advocacy amid COVID 19, presenting a positive example of Partners Albania and National Resource Centre for Civil Society, which provided a support package of rapid support.
In addition, Arpi Grigoryan, Researcher at Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC)- Armenia delivered a presentation on Armenia’s case study. At the beginning of her presentation, Arpi showed some of the Government’s measures preventing the COVID 19 spread, such as the announcement of the state of emergency and the tight restrictions of movement in public places. She continued the presentation by providing details on crisis ownership and inclusive partnerships to tackle the ongoing challenges and the crisis’s adverse effects. She particularly emphasized the notable restrictions of the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in the country, including provisions restricting activities of the media void, and State of Emergency Decree which prohibited the organization of and participation in public gatherings and strikes. In terms of the right to privacy, she also indicated that the Government could access mobile phone data to stem the Coronavirus spread in Armenia.
At the end of the discussion, it was concluded that civil society had provided many resources amid COVID 19 to serve its beneficiaries and the most vulnerable categories in the community. However, there is still a lack of recognition and knowledge on the valuable CSOs’ work among the wider population. There is a need for civil society organizations to communicate better the work they are doing. This goes to their relevance and visibility, especially for promoting civic space and civil society’s value. Another issue is the threat and challenges of freedom of information against fake news. In this regard, the society should always take into account that the fight against fake news is real, but on the other hand, the threats to the freedom of expression it is an issue that should not be exempted, as well.