On the 22nd of April 2015 in Prishtina, Kosovo, the Kosovar Civil Society Foundation (KCSF) presented the Monitoring Matrix 2014 Kosovo Country Report. After KCSF presented the findings from the report, depicting the main changes in the environment that enabled or hindered the development of civil society in Kosovo during 2014, BCSDN’s Programme Manager Ilina Nesik presented the findings for 2014 on a regional level. The MM regional report enforces the findings on a national level and sets them in a regional context, showing the positive and negative trends in the region for the previous year.
In the opening remarks, KCSF’s Executive Director Mrs. Venera Hajrullahu stressed that a developed civil society is one of the key pillars of democracy; however certain preconditions are necessary for its proper functioning and development. The Monitoring Matrix, which provides a comprehensive set of optimum standards for civil society development, helps to detect the challenging issues and supports the efforts towards EU and national institutions for advancing the environment in which CSOs operate. Addressing Mrs. Hajrullahu’s question whether the EU treats civil society as a potential and an important resource in the reform efforts in Enlargement countries, the Head of EUOK/EUSR, Samuel Zbogar, said that civil society is not only a precious resource, but also an important pressure to the EU and the national governments, significantly contributing with its critical thinking, innovative initiatives and advocacy activities, acting as the main agent of change. Adding to this, the Minister of EU Integration Bekim Collaku stated that the EU deems the role of civil society in policy- and decision-making very important, and is strongly committed to supporting its inclusion in the process, as a necessity for positive change.
Kosovo in 2014 did not witness dynamic developments in all areas monitored with the Matrix due to the political situation, however the most positive development for 2014 refers to the strengthening of the cooperation between the Government and CSOs. There have been no changes in the basic legal framework, but its implementation is still partial. CSOs are free to seek and secure funds from various domestic and foreign sources, but there are limitations which are still burdensome and restrictive. Tax incentives for private donors continue to be a part of the legal framework but are of limited scope and have ambiguous provisions. Despite commitments to regulate public funding to CSOs, no concrete steps have been made to establish standard procedures and criteria on their programming, selection, monitoring and evaluation. Civil society is not involved in any employment policy and volunteering is not promoted enough. Moreover, although CSOs in many cases are involved in drafting laws and policies, the existing requirements at government level for consulting them are not respected to the fullest and their inclusion is often left to the will of individual public officials. Lastly, despite some initiatives on licensing of service providers, service provision by CSOs continues without proper funding, procedures and standards.
The full 2014 Country Report for Kosovo is available at the Monitoring Matrix website, along with the other 7 country reports from the region, allowing for cross-country and cross-year comparison.