Civil society organizations (CSOs) must not be the decor of the European integration of Montenegro, and only when the Government acknowledges the CSOs’ essential work in the process one can talk about its success. This was the main message of the conference “The experience of NGOs in the process of European Integration: Achievements and Challenges “, organized by CRNVO with the support of Cenzura Plus under the Europe for Citizens project.
CRNVO’s Executive Director, Ana Novakovic, stressed that CSOs – and not the Government or the Parliament – were in fact the first promoters and advocates of European values, and the ones that started the fight for the rule of law, human rights, prohibition of discrimination and all other values that are the foundation of the European Union. She added that, unlike other countries that have joined the EU, the Montenegrin government allowed the participation of civil society representatives in the negotiating working groups, as out of 1,256 people who work in the framework of the negotiation process, 292 are representatives of civil society. Additionally, Montenegro for the first time has involved CSO representatives in the programming of the technical and financial assistance to CSOs, indicating an attempt to link all parts of society.
However, there is still no CSO-owned mechanism for communication with the Government or body that would represent all CSOs and bring their recommendations and suggestions to the integrative part of the EU accession process, as well as also to other government policies. The speakers concluded that the EU integration process needs a much higher level of inclusiveness and the role and position of CSO representatives in the working groups has to be clarified, allowing them an equal position and unselective access to information.
More information and videos from the conference are available here.