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Government and Civil Societies together for Reforms

The report co-authored by twenty experts from the Balkans providing analysis of Chapters 23 and 24 within the EU accession agenda was presented at the Special Side Event: Visegrad Experience for the Western Balkans: NGO Support for Key Reforms. The Report deliberated on how to increase cooperation between governments and civil society focusing in particular on monitoring during the EU integration process, human rights protection, the implementation of an effective migration policy, the impartiality of the judiciary, anti-corruption measures and solid civic education. It offers a range of recommendations for governments, civil society, the international community and other subjects.

Many challenges regarding good governance were shared among the region’s governments and CSOs despite varying stages of advancement in their EU accession.

In Serbia, the CSOs are also self-managed when it comes to their inclusion in the process of accession negotiations. There are several initiatives that are currently in its formative period, with a hope that they will eventually become spaces for a meaningful deliberation with the government. Civil society is vibrant and there are many organizations with sufficient capacities and a considerable amount of experience when it comes to various policies, which might come handy during the negotiation process. There are, of course, issues when it comes to monitoring, especially when it comes to monitoring court cases. There is lack of access to information and court’s statistics in Serbia is incomplete or non-existent, which significantly undermines serious efforts of some organization to monitor court practice in the field of human rights and vulnerable groups.

In Montenegro, CSOs have a structured cooperation with the government owing to the fact that they participated in the work of government’s negotiation groups. However, there are numerous problems in regards to the transparency of the process due to the fact that certain opening benchmarks were not open to the public. At the same time, CSOs representatives who are member of negotiation groups had to sign non-disclosure agreements in order to prevent them from sharing information related to the negotiation process outside of the group’s meetings. This lack of transparency seriously hampers the efforts of civil society in monitoring corruption.

Slovakia had experienced the same thing Macedonia is going through at the moment. It is essentially the trade-off that takes place in establishing the judiciary branch that is independent from the executive, yet professional and accountable at the same time. Slovakia had severe problems with its judicial reform, with judiciary essentially becoming a state within a state that no one could put under control, rampant with corruption scandals and other problems. This same thing is currently happening in Macedonia. Apart from that, what government needs to do in order to include CSOs more effectively in the negotiation process is to stop with the practice of adopting laws in urgent procedures.

  • Marko Savković‚ Project Coordinator, Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence
  • Goce Kocevski‚ Macedonian Young Lawyers Association
  • Jovana Marović‚ Researcher, Institute Alternativa
  • Tomasz Żornaczuk‚ Thinking for Governance Project Coordinator, Polish Institute for International Affairs (Moderator)