Biggest Annual 2004 NGO Event Celebrated in the Spirit of Macedonian EU Integration

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In three days, 9798 visitors had the opportunity to attend 66 forum events, such as panels, round tables, promotions, presentations and other socio-cultural events. These forums featured some of the most important discussions for development of civic society in Macedonia; i.e. the role of civil society in the EU integration process of Macedonia, decentralization, unemployment, national strategies, higher education, corruption, strategies for sustainability of CSO sector.

In the exhibition part, visitors had the opportunity to see presentations from 244 organizations on 98 stands. Out of this, 16 CSOs from abroad and 4 international organizations presented themselves to the Macedonian public.

For the first time, plenary sessions could be followed through a live internet broadcast on http://broadcast.mt.net.mk.

The closing session, which took place on 3rd December, came forward with the following conclusions on main topics and panels:

The role of the civic society in the process of accession to the European Union

  • Accession to the EU means approaching to the principles of “European governance” such as openness, participation, democratic approach, coherence, institutional forms of dialogue, Committee of regions, Economic-social committee;
  • Macedonia should take advantage of all available resources in the process of EU accession, including people (personnel) from the civil society sector;
  • The civil society, including the media, should show vision, courage and capacity for changing the public opinion and behavior in direction towards support for EU accession;
  • Seven out of eight questions addressed the Government’s capability to work towards EU accession of Macedonia and to work with CSOs.

The Membership of Slovenia in the European Union as a factor of strengthening CSOs. The role of the Sector for European Integration in EU accession – overview on answering on the EU questionnaire

  • Involvement of CSOs in the process of the European integrations is of mutual interest, however it does not represent a formal request by the EU;
  • The Government and CSOs should work on building mutual trust as equal partners;
  • The main priorities that should be address in order Macedonia to gain the status of accession country in 2006 are: Ohrid Agreement/decentralization, reform of the judiciary and police, structural reforms and macro-economical stability;
  • EU accession is complex, long and expensive, therefore Macedonia needs strong institutions that will cooperate with the citizens.

Decentralization – depolitization of political parties as a formula for successful local democracy

  • The decentralization should lead to increased participation. For Macedonia this is a medium-term priority and one of the main criteria for gaining the status of EU accession country;
  • The lack of depolitization in the local self-government units (LSU) is one of the key shortcomings that hinder the process of decentralization and blocks the process of decision- making in the LSU;
  • Relation between the LSU and CSOs are based on mistrust. On the one hand, CSOs are declaring lack of transparency, nepotism and corruption based on party links within the LSU and on the other hand, the LSU points at lack of professionalism and increasing interest for the decentralization among CSO due to increased allocations for work in this area.

Decrease in unemployment through improving access to financial services

  • Lacking financial services, particularly for business beginners in Macedonia. 75% of unemployed are interested in starting a small business, but have the least chance for obtaining a credit;
  • Numerous institutions in Macedonia give micro-credit and some of the commercial banks have departments for micro crediting;
  • Institutional support of the private sector and stronger coordination between the actors for development support (Government, development agencies, guaranty-funds) is needed.

Models for preparing national strategies

  • National program for development of education and the Strategy for development of informational society are in process of making, while the National strategy for the young is in its final phase;
  • The cooperation with CSOs and expert teams is of great importance in all three national strategies, especially in the National strategy for the young, which envisages inclusion of youth CSOs;
  • Inclusion of representatives of political parties in the process of creating national strategies enables implementation of these long-term documents.

Higher education, corruption and the students’ rights

  • Some students, who find it easier to pay for exam to learning, encourage corruption in higher education;
  • In 2,5 term in the post, student attorney received 160 complaints, out of which none concerned corruption;
  • Not a single case of corruption in higher education ended in judicial verdict.

10 years of civil society in Southeast Europe: What we got right and what went wrong?

  • The development of CSOs in Southeast Europe, as well as in other post-communist states, depended greatly on foreign aid donated by Western Europe and USA, mostly addressed to CSOs working in the field of democracy. Based on such a context, a significant number of CSOs are still in an anti-governmental pose;
  • CSOs and the Government should both decide on the mode of mutual relations, based on the notion of what model of society they want to create;
  • The greatest challenge remaining in the region is corruption and trust of the people in their Governments.

Strategies for sustainability of the civil society sector in Macedonia – Can the civil society sector sustain without the foreign financing?

  • 74% of financial means come from grants, 10% from own sources, 8% from the central or the local authorities, 4% from the business sector and the same percentage (4%) from donations by individuals;
  • CSOs are not enough involved in mobilization of means on local level and at the same time are not promoted enough in the public;
  • Amendments to the Law on Associations and Foundations such as are needed: economical activities of CSOs, status of the public interest organizations, beneficiaries to the tax for individual and corporative donors, volunteerism;
  • The Government has formed an office for cooperation with CSOs based in the General Secretariat.
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