On 28th July, the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) delegation met with representatives of civil society during their field visit to Macedonia to investigate the situation with civil society in the country. The goal of this civil society hearing lead by Mr. Ionut Sibian, President of the Western Balkans Section, was to hear views of civil society representatives on the current situation and the issues that are key for the country’s progress on its path towards EU accession. The hearing focused on the role of civil society in strengthening the rule of law, fight against corruption, anti-discrimination policies, youth unemployment and freedom of the media.
On 29th July, the EESC delegation will also meet with civil society representatives in Kumanovo. The results of the hearing will be put in a report drafted by the EESC, which will be disseminated to the EU institutions and national stakeholders. On the invitation of Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, the EESC will be issuing a full-fledged opinion on the state of civil society in Macedonia and its role in integration process in 2016.
Ms. Tanja Hafner Ademi, Executive Director of BCSDN participated in the hearing pointing to the need to address structural reforms in terms of civil society cooperation (establishment of a Council for cooperation and dialogue and overhaul of state financing for CSOs) and called for a full-fledged investigation of police conduct on the 5th May protest and protection of freedom of peaceful assembly by authorities. BCSDN was happy to support the EESC Secretariat in preparations of the hearing.