Switzerland helped strengthen the civil society in Macedonia

Local news, 07.12.2018

The Civica Mobilitas program has supported over 100 CSOs in the last four years, which actively engage in achieving positive social changes in Macedonia.

Ambassador Suter gives remarks at a networking meeting of Civica Mobilitas program grantees © FDFA

From a publication on climbing Macedonian mountain peaks, to a blueprint on how to get the country out of the protracted political crisis of 2016. From an interactive web application to inform voters, to concrete proposals to ensure the participation of people with disability in the election process. From the creation of a multilingual e-library where young authors can publish their first books, to the ratification by the Assembly of the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women. Civil society organizations in Macedonia undoubtedly achieved many results with support from the Swiss-funded program for the civil society sector in Macedonia - Civica Mobilitas.

"In the past three years, initiatives of civil society organisations have led to tangible changes in Macedonia, which confirms the potential impact of the civil society in the country. Of course, we are aware that these changes they triggered are still far from addressing all citizens’ expectations, but today there is definitely more openness from decision-makers to consult and involve the civil society,” said the Swiss Ambassador in Macedonia Sybille Suter at the last networking meeting of Civica Mobilitas program grantees held earlier this month. More than 130 representatives of civil society organizations supported by the program in the past four years participated in the event to discuss their achievements and exchange their experience.

“This is the biggest programme for supporting CSOs in Macedonia. More than 2,000 training courses, 1,800 surveys on various topics, over 500 debates and discussions, and 600 research stories were conducted with support from the Civica Mobilitas program,” said the national team leader of Civica Mobiltas, Aleksandar Krzalovski, also highlighting the fact that the programme helped increase the perception of impact of the civil society among citizens. CSO representatives participating in the meeting consider however that still more needs to be done in order for their impact to be better acknowledged. “Who would speak out about corruption if not the CSOs? Who would speak about the rights of marginalized groups? Thanks to the pressure from CSOs, the deadline for obtaining information in the Law on Free Access to Public Information is now reduced to 20 days. Does anyone recognize this? Do people know that CSOs are doing these kind of things?", said German Filkov from the Center for Civil Communications. Eli Chakar, advisor at the Ministry of Local Self-Government, said that it is undisputed that the work of the civil society organizations is recognized, but also that it is still a process. “A process which should lead towards democratization of society and a process that depends on the democratization of society,” she pointed out.

At the meeting, representatives of the business community stressed that better collaboration between the civil society and the business community is needed. “Civic organizations are among the last to receive funds from companies. It is very important that the organizations do not look at businesses as a source of finance, but as long-term partners," said Iskra Tikvarovska Kazandzievska from the power distribution and supply company - EVN Macedonia. Continuing the discussion, Petrus Theunisz, the international team leader of the Civica Mobilitas program, once again highlighted the outstanding results achieved by the civil society in Macedonia and talked about the common values of the Civica Mobilitas community and the mutual solidarity. “It is encouraging that 90% of the COSs expressed their willingness to stay in the community, even if they do not receive a grant,” he concluded.  

Between 2014 and 2018, the Swiss-funded Civica Mobilitas program supported over 100 CSOs that actively engage in achieving positive social changes in Macedonia. The program contributed to the institutional development and organizational strengthening of CSOs, and promoted social change in strategic areas such as good governance, decentralization and civil society development.