On June 9th, 2019, on the Thematic Forum of CIVICA mobilitas, more than 80 representatives of the civil society organizations’ representatives discussed the enabling environment for the development of civil society in 2018. The Forum was opened by the Swiss Ambassador to Macedonia, H.E Sybille Suter Tejada who testified about the Swiss support to the civil society, the commitment for the creation of a stable environment for civil society, as well as about the importance of the Government and the other institutions to work in that direction.
“The environment in which civil society acted during 2018 was significantly enhanced for the CSOs, considering the fact that for the first time after six cycles of monitoring of the enabling environment, numerous achievements have been registered in the direction of support and development of the civil sector,” said Simona Ognenovska from the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIC), one of the authors of the Report for enabling environment for development of civil society for 2018.
On the Forum was emphasized that the freedom of association, assembly, and expression were legally guaranteed and mainly respected and provided in practice, as well as that the Financial Framework for the sustainability of civil society was partially improved, as well as that the key changes were made in the Profit Tax Law. The Government-Civil Society Council and the adoption of the third strategic document Strategy of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia for Cooperation with and Development of the Civil Sector 2018-2020 were characterized as crucial elements in the relationship between the government and CSOs. On the panel discussion, State Counselor from the Ministry of Information Society and Administration reflected the involvement of CSOs in policy-making. She also presented the results of the first Annual Assessment Report for the consultations in 2018.
In addition, Biljana Spasovska, BCSDN’s Policy and Advocacy Officer, shared the regional experiences regarding the shrinking spaces that CSOs in the Balkans are facing. She also referred about the smear campaigns against associations, activists and investigative journalists, while civil society is getting stronger and acting as a counterweight to this situation.
Some of the recommendations that were highlighted on the Forum were related to the necessary changes in the Criminal Code by which representatives of associations and foundations are treated as officials; putting the current Lobbying Law out of force; as well as simplification of procedures for registration of projects exempt from VAT. Regarding the direct financial support from the state, it is necessary to establish a fund for the development of the civil society, to provide co-financing for the projects supported by foreign donors.