The implementation of the Government’s Strategy for cooperation with and development of the civil society was the topic of the three-day consultations organised by the Civic Resource Center and the Unit for Cooperation with Non-Governmental Organisations within the General Secretariat in the period 14-16 March in Skopje, Gostivar and Stip. The Draft report on the implementation of the Government Strategy for Cooperation with and Development of Civil Society 2022-2024 for the year 2022 was presented to about 80 civil society organisations (CSOs) and other relevant stakeholders who discussed the status of the implementation of the activities and made proposals for the priorities and the implementation of the Strategy in the next period.
The action plan for the Strategy implementation contains a total of 81 activities, of which 61 are planned for 2022. According to the report, 16 activities (26.2%) have been implemented in 2022, 17 activities (27.9%) are ongoing, and 28 activities (45.9%) are delayed. Some of the measures implemented in 2022 refer to the implemented public consultations with CSOs on the changes to the Law on Associations and Foundations; the expansion and regular updating of the open data that the Central Registry publishes; developing a network of social services in the local community and involvement of CSOs as providers of social services, supporting promotion and education activities for social entrepreneurship, etc.
At the consultative meetings, the local organisations predominantly focused on the need for better informing on the activities at the central level, on the legal changes that have impact on CSOs, as well as on strengthening their capacities for active involvement in the processes of policy making and advocacy for social changes. They emphasized the need for better networking and cooperation at the local level in order to create a strong base for advocating to the state institutions. “There is an urgent need to return the dialogue between the CSOs and the Government” as well as “activation of the Council for Cooperation between the Government and civil society” – were among the most frequent comments of the organisations. They pointed out that there is a decline in transparency in the allocation of state funds for CSOs and asked the Government to urgently work on its improvement as well as on unifying the methodology for allocation and monitoring of the use of these funds.
The organisations used the consultations to share other challenges, outside the scope of the Strategy, which indicates the need for more frequent mutual and consultations with the Unit.
The Strategy, adopted by the Government in December 2021, defines the key priorities and contains activities to improve the legal and tax framework for CSOs, to strengthen the institutional framework and cooperation practices between the Government and CSOs, to improve the system of state funding for CSOs, to improve their participation in the policy creation and monitoring and to strengthen the civil society as a stakeholder in the social-economic development. The measures foreseen with this Strategy at the institutional level are aimed, among other things, at maintaining continuity in the work of the Council for Cooperation between the Government and Civil Society and at improving communication and cooperation practices with CSOs. These events were organised under the project “EU support to the Civil Society Resource Centre – Phase 2” financed by the European Union and implemented by the National Civil Society Development Foundation Civic Resource Centre, the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation (MCIS), Media Plus, Shtip and Association for Democratic Initiatives – ADI, Gostivar.