On the 2nd of April, the first Serbian Country Monitoring Report of the enabling environment for civil society development was presented by BCSDN member and partner Civic Initiatives in the Belgrade Media Center to a group of around 50 representatives from CSOs, government, donors, and other stakeholders. The event featured the presentation of the methodology and goals of the report by Dejana Stevkovski, project coordinator, as well as the presentation of the 6 key findings and recommendations by Maja Stojanovic, Executive Director of Civic Initiative.
Civic Initiatives findings were as follows: (1) need for consistent application of constitutional rights related to freedom of assembly and expression by the public authorities; (2) defining of public benefit status good and harmonization of various fiscal laws; (3) improve transparency and diversification of state support to CSOs; (4) improving quality of civic education subjects in primary and secondary schools by educational authorities; (5) adoption of a national strategy for an enabling environment for CSOs, which is on track and (6) introduction of social contract for CSOs.
Ivana Cirkovic, Director of the Government Office for Cooperation with Civil Society, stressed that the presentation of this report is extremely important because this is the first time the public is presented with a set of indicators that influence CSDev and which are to be taken as the main source of information in assessing the progress of Serbia by the EU. Tanja Hafner Ademi, Executive Director of BCSDN presented the findings and recommendations of all the Western Balkan countries, stressing that Serbia is advanced in terms of support for civil society, but there is still much left to do on the involvement of civil society in the process of decision-making. The discussion evolved around current problems and issues such as the exact number of employed and active organization; use of state funding and disturbing announcement about shutting down the Belgrade Agency for EU Integrations and Cooperation with CSOs by the new Government. The Serbian monitoring report can be read here.