On 29 March, BCSDN’s Acting Executive Director, Anja Bosilkova-Antovska, participated at the online regional forum “Civil society organizations response and adaptability”, organized within the framework of the regional project “Fostering regional cooperation and policy responses in time of crisis” led by Partners Albania for Change and Development and implemented by the National Resource Centre’s in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia.
The aim of the regional forum was to provide an overview of the current situation in the Western Balkans and EU, highlighting the impact, key issues, and challenges faced by civil society organizations and the role of the relevant stakeholders, to present the main challenges in the field of cooperation between governments and CSOs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to share best practices of CSOs concerning the topic.
The forum was opened by Ms. Zorana Markovic, Executive Director of CRNVO, as the forum’s organizer, Ms. Ariola Agolli, Manager of the NRC Albania, as project leader, and Ms. Tamara Srzentic – Minister of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media of Montenegro. Ms. Srzentic emphasized the role of Montenegrin civil society in the policymaking and decision-making processes, noting that it is unthinkable for any decision that concerns the local communities to be adopted without comprehensive consultations. She announced the public debate on the Law for CSOs and invited in advance the stakeholders to take place in it and enrich the discussion with their input.
Ms. Bosilkova-Antovska participated in the first panel discussion, titled “EU and regional overview of the impact of COVID 19 on CSOs – perspectives and opportunities”, alongside Ms. Giada Negri from the European Civic Forum, Ms. Natasa Petrovic from the Balkan Trust for Democracy and Ms. Aleksandra Gligorovic from the TACSO EU Montenegro Office. The panel reflected on the overall positioning of the CSOs regarding the adaptability to the newly imposed reality. In her address, Ms. Anja Bosilkova discussed the findings from the regional monitoring efforts on the impact of the pandemic on civil society in the Western Balkans, the environment and its operations, including how the accountability of CSOs towards their constituencies has changed during the pandemic. Ms. Aleksandra Gligorovic noted the good examples of adaptability and solidarity seen amongst and by CSO actors since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Natasa Petrovic presented the activities of BTD in response to the pandemic and discussed the importance of donors’ flexibility, while Ms. Giada Negri presented the findings from the European Civic Forum’s Survey on The Impact of COVID-19 on Fundamental Rights and Civic Space.
The following panel discussed the Communication and cooperation of CSOs and the Government in the response to the COVID19 crisis in the region, while the third session was dedicated to showcasing CSOs’ role and contribution in response to COVID 19 impact, where participants gave their inputs through working groups.
in the coming period, policy recommendations will be developed based on the discussions held. In addition, within the project, four more regional forums will be organized, on the following topics: Voluntarism, solidarity, and philanthropy in times of crisis; Access to services during the pandemic, with a special focus on marginalized groups; COVID-19 impact on the youth sector; and Human rights and access to information during a health crisis – shrinking/closing civic and democratic spaces.
More information is available here.