Annual conference of the IPA 2 Mechanism for civil society organizations

Democratic governance program, stakeholder consultation

Summary

On September 15 and 16, 2016 in Skopje, representatives of civil society organizations – members of the IPA 2 Mechanism for CSOs – discussed and proposed recommendations for better usage of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance for Macedonia (IPA II). Also, they elected their sectoral representatives in each of the sectors of the IPA 2 Mechanism, which would represent them in policy dialogue with the government. The Association Zenith, Eko-Svest, MCEO and Reactor organized this event in order to further strengthen and promote the IPA 2 Mechanism for Civil Society Organizations, which effectively supports participative democracy through collaboration between the Government and civil society organizations.

In the introductory session, Mr. Nicola Bertolini, Head of Cooperation in the Delegation of the European Union, pointed out:“The accession process depends not only on the Government, but on all the citizens as well. That’s why the inclusion of the civil society in programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the assistance of the European Union is necessary”. During the conference, 7 representatives of civil society organizations and their deputies were elected to represent the CSOs in various IPA 2 sectors. Their wourk will connect the civil society organizations and the Government of Macedonia in the process of programming and implementation of IPA 2.

In the sector 1 – Democracy and governance, Rozalija Karchicka Vasilevska, president of Sfera Nova, was elected for sectoral representative, and Sonja Damchevska from Coalition for sustainable development was elected as her deputy. Ana Janevska Deleva from Transparency Macedonia was elected for representative of the Sector 2 – Rule of law and fundamental rights, while her deputy is Vaska Cvetanovska from HOPS. Most of the votes for Sector 3 – Environment and Sector 4 – Transport/Energy went for Metodija Sazdov, president of the environmental organization “Macedonian Green Center”, whose deputy is Blazhe Josifovski from “Let's do it Macedonia”. Elected representative for Sector 5 – Competitiveness and innovation is Marijana Lonchar Velkova of the Consumers' Organization of Macedonia, and her deputy is Svetlana Kirevska of the Foundation of small and medium enterprises of Skopje. Biljana Dukovska of the Macedonian platform against poverty is the new representative for Sector 6 – Education, employment and social policies, and Marija Savovska of Action Zdruzhenska is her deputy. In Sector 7 – Agriculture and rural development, most votes went to Vasko Hadzievski of the Coalition of agroeconomists of Macedonia, while deputy representative is Nesim Veliu of Ekoprodukt. In Sector 8 – Regional and territorial cooperation, Ivana Petrovska of ALDA was elected for sectoral representative, while her deputy is Nelko Nelkovski of the Macedonian center for culture and development.

The conference was organized within the project “IPA 2 Mechanism for civil society organizations” funded by the European Union, as part of the IPA Civil Society Facility And Media Programme 2014.

Partners

Consultation on priorities for the Public Administration Reform Strategy 2017–2022

Democratic governance program, stakeholder consultation

Summary

On June 30, 2016, in Skopje, the Association Zenith and the IPA 2 Mechanism for civil society organizations, in cooperation with the Ministry of information society and administration (MIOA) , organized a public consultation to determine civil society priorities for the new Public Administration Reform Strategy for Macedonia (2017–2022). Attracting over 60 representatives of civil society, higher education institutions and the business community, the event aimed to identify key priorities, challenges and potential solutions. The discussion revolved around the following topics of the Strategy:

After the event, civil society organizations provided additional comments by e-mail. The Association Zenith prepared a report from the consultation which is structured according to the aforementioned topics. The report was shared with MIOA, the experts of Support for Improvement in Governance and Management (SIGMA) who lead the process of preparation of the strategy, the Delegation of the European Union in Macedonia and other development partners.

Partners

Launch of the project IPA 2 Mechanism for civil society organizations (IPA2CSO)

Democratic governance program

Summary

On April 4, 2016 at the EU Info Centre, the Association Zenith, the Macedonian Centre for European Training, Eko-svest and Reactor marked the launch of the project to support the IPA 2 Mechanism for civil society organizations (IPA2CSO). Around 100 representatives from civil society organizations, media, government, and development partners took part in the event which presented the main objectives and activities of the project.

The participants were addressed by representatives of the partner organizations, who presented the main conclusions and recommendations from the sectoral consultative meetings with CSOs on seven IPA 2 sectors: 1) Democracy and governance, 2) Rule of law and fundamental rights, 3) Environment 4) Transport/Energy, 5) Competitiveness and innovation, 6) Social development and 7) Agriculture and rural development. Mr. Martin Klaucke from the EU Delegation in Macedonia and Mrs. Orhideja Kaljoshevska, state advisor for coordination of European and other foreign aid in the Secretariat for European Affairs, welcomed this initiative and stressed the need for structured cooperation of Macedonia’s Government with the civil society.

The project activities will be implemented by July 31, 2018, with financial support from the European Union. Its overall objective is to strengthen civil society impact in public policies and decision making thereby influencing key reforms for further support of Macedonia in the EU accession processes.

Expected project results are: increased capacity of diverse CSOs (both national and grassroots) to participate via the IPA 2 mechanism; advanced CSO participation on local and national level through sub-granting and implementation of IPA 2 sector specific initiatives; established network on programming and monitoring of IPA 2; and increased CSOs’ capacity to connect with both stakeholders and media via analysis, monitoring and advocacy.

The IPA 2 Mechanism is established by civil society organizations in Macedonia with the aim to enhance the cooperation and partnership between the civil society organizations, the Delegation of the European Union and the Government of the Republic of Macedonia in the process of programming, implementation and monitoring of the Instrument for Pre-accession assistance 2014–2020 (IPA 2).

Partners

First civil society consultation on priorities in the “Democracy and governance” sector

Democratic governance program, stakeholder consultation

Summary

In March 2016, the Association for development initiatives “Zenith“ and the IPA 2 Mechanism for civil society organizations organized a civil society consultationon the policies, challenges and priorities regarding democracy and governance in Macedonia – as a sector where the European Union is allocating its pre-accession assistance. Among the multitude of featured topics, the consultation also reflected on the public administration reform, the processes of decentralization and de-concentration, the environment for civil society, as well as the economic governance and public finance management.

The Association Zenith prepared a report which summarizes the viewpoints of civil society organizations (CSOs).The report was presented to the relevant stakeholders,including the Delegation of the European Union in Macedonia. The Delegation may use the document as input for drafting the 2016 report of the European Commission on the Republic of Macedonia.

The consultation included a meeting on March, 21 2016 at the EU Info Centre in Skopje, gathering over 30 representatives of CSOs and other stakeholders. An additional consultation was conducted by e-mail. Regarding the topic „Economic governance and management of public finances“,input also was usedfrom the workshop with the civil society for Open Government Partnership (group for „Efficient management of public resources“). This workshop took place on March 24,2016, and was facilitated by Zenith’s Director, Aleksandar Nikolov.

The following conclusions from the consultations can be highlighted:

Partners

First civil society consultation on priorities in the “Competitiveness and innovation” sector

Democratic governance program, stakeholder consultation

Summary

The Association for Development Initiatives “Zenith” and the IPA 2 Mechanism for the civil society organizations organized a civil society consultation to detect main challenges and priorities regarding competitiveness and innovation, and the related policies.“Competitiveness and innovation” is one of the eight sectors to which the European Union is allocating its pre-accession assistance up to 2020.

The Association Zenith prepared a report summarizing the stances of the civil society organizations (CSOs)and other non-state actors.The report was presented to the relevant stakeholders,including the Delegation of the European Union in Macedonia. The Delegation may use the document as input for drafting the 2016 report of the European Commission on the Republic of Macedonia.

The consultation was conducted by e-mail, and the call was disseminated through the database of contacts of the IPA 2 Mechanism, the TACSO office in Macedonia and the list of CSOs published by the Secretariat for European Affairs. Given the particulars of the sector, the economic chambers in Macedonia were also contacted.

The following conclusions from the consultations can be highlighted:

Partners

Accession of Macedonia to the European Union: Mapping of constitutional implications and options related to the political criteria

EU Integration Program, Promotional event and expert discussion

Summary

The Association for Development Initiatives „Zenith“ and the Macedonian Academy for Sciences and Arts, on February 19, 2014, organized a promotional event and expert discussion on constitutional challenges and options for the Macedonian constitution in regards to the EU related political criteria.

The Executive director of the Association for Development Initiatives "Zenith", Mr. Aleksandar Nikolov opened the event. In his opening remarks, he thanked the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences for acknowledging the importance of the topic and for their support for the initiative. Academician Vlado Kambovski, president of the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, noted that our legal thought insufficiently tackles the theoretical preparation regarding the harmonization of the Macedonian legal system with the one of the European Union. Mr. Robert Liddell, Head of Section for Political and Justice and Home Affairs issues at the EU delegation to Macedonia, explicated that according to the latest enlargement strategy, the rule of law is in the heart of the accession process and this study would sufficiently contribute to the debate of how to best prepare for the next phase of the accession process, the accession negotiations.

The event was used to promote the publication entitled "Accession of Macedonia to the European Union: Mapping of constitutional implications and options related to the political criteria". The policy study was prepared by the Association Zenith in cooperation with Mrs. Tatjana Karakamiseva – Jovanovska, Professor of Constitutional law from the Law Faculty "Iustinianus Primus" in Skopje and Mr. Igor Spirovski, experienced practitioner in the field of constitutional law and former judge at the Constitutional court of Macedonia. The Ministry of Justice, and its Deputy Minister endorsed the study and emphasized the need of such comparative studies where the constitutional changes implemented by Member States but also candidate countries would be explored. Furthermore, the Deputy Minister for Justice, Mrs. Biljana Boskoska Briskoski noted that the mapped constitutional challenges and solutions offered an excellent basis on which Macedonia needs to promote its Constitution.

Partners

Judicial cooperation in criminal matters: Assessment of Macedonia’s legal alignment with the European Union acquis

EU Integration Program, Roundtable discussion

Summary

The Association for Development Initiatives „Zenith“ and the Macedonia office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), on December 24, 2013, organized a roundtable discussion on Judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Prof. Dr. Gordana Buzharovska outlined key aspects of the draft-expert analysis of the degree of harmonization of the national legislation with the relevant EU acquis. The joint initiative of KAS and the Association Zenith aims at better preparing the sub-working group led by the Ministry of Justice for this specific area covered by the High-Level Accession Dialogue. Ms. Frosina Tasevska, Head of the EU department in Ministry of Justice, stressed that this is part of the Ministry’s efforts to conduct an objective self-assessment in a situation where a formal screening process cannot be commenced. Other members of the relevant sub-group within the government’s working group 24 on Freedom, Justice and Security, also expressed their views on the state of Macedonia’s legal alignment and future challenges that remain to be addressed. The relevant international instruments, conventions and their additional protocols adopted by the Council of Europe have been ratified. A solid national legal framework is established, considering the provisions of the International Cooperation in Criminal Matters Law and the Law on Criminal Proceedings. Successful institutional cooperation is taking place among the national-level institutions with the police, the judicial and the penitentiary institutions. Additionally, there is intensive international cooperation in the police and judicial area, and activities are conducted in cooperation with Europol and Eurojust.

The discussion also highlighted areas where further amendments and strengthened implementation efforts will be necessary in order for Macedonia to achieve better transposition and alignment. The Director of the Association Zenith pledged to present all the input in the form of a short analytical report.

The representatives of the institutions involved in the working sub-group stressed the need to continue this form of cooperation with the working groups 23 and 24 by providing expert assistance and transfer of specific knowledge in the self-assessment process.

Partner

Embedding rule of law in the EU enlargement process: Lessons learnt and prospects for the western Balkan countries

EU Integration Program, Promotion of regional analysis and discussion

Summary

The event was opened by the director of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung – Rule of Law Program South East Europe (KAS RLPSEE), Mr. Thorsten Geissler, giving a comprehensive overview of the -German perspective of the EU enlargement process with the western Balkan countries. In his welcoming remarks the Executive Director of the Association Zenith, Mr. Aleksandar Nikolov, emphasized the history of Zenith-KAS RLPSEE cooperation in this sphere during the past several years. Mr. Blerim Bexheti, Minister of Justice of Macedonia, noted that a transparent and independent judiciary and establishing a consistent implementation of rule of law is a pre-condition for European accession. The Head of the EU Delegation in Macedonia, Mr. Aivo Orav, pointed to the continuity of EU’s political conditionality, especially that related to chapter 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, towards all accession countries from the western Balkan. The opening session was closed with the expose of the former Prime Minister of Lower Saxony and European Parliament candidate from CDU, Mr. David McAllister, who assured the audience that the announced German coalition government has included the support to EU enlargement in the western Balkan in the draft coalition agreement.

After the opening session, Mr. Zoran Nechev, researcher from Zenith, elaborated the research paper entitled “Embedding rule of law in the enlargement process: A case for EU political conditionality in the accession of the western Balkan countries”. Country specific presentations were given by the researchers from Croatia and Montenegro, Ms. Gordana Vidovic Mesarek and Mr. Nikola Sharanovic, outlining specific benchmarks that were set by the EU and the country’s institutional response to fulfilling the criteria.

The third panel was devoted to the Macedonia’s perspectives in light of the 2013 EU Enlargement Strategy. This high-level panel was opened with presentation by Ms. Hristina Runcheva, member of the National Council for European Integration and the Committee on European Issues in the Macedonian Assembly. She pointed to the risk of the integration process losing credibility due to the bilateral conditions which fall outside of the framework of the political criteria established at the Copenhagen Council. Mr. Gordan Georgiev, who is also a member of these two bodies of Macedonia’s Assembly, added that there is an urgent need to reaffirm the political criteria in Macedonia – given the noted shortcomings related to the freedom of expression and media, and fair elections. Ms. Teuta Arifi (DUI), former deputy Prime Minister responsible for EU integration, warned that the name issue must not be used as an alibi or be a source of defeatist mentality where any reforms done in the name of EU integration would be perceived as futile. The last panelist, Mr. Ivica Bocevski, also a former deputy Prime Minister responsible for EU integration, stressed that everything that had to be done by Macedonia related to the political criteria was fulfilled.

Partners

Accession of Macedonia to the European Union: Mapping of constitutional implications and options related to the political criteria

EU Integration Program, Expert discussion on the draft analysis

Summary

The Association for Development Initiatives „Zenith“ in collaboration with the European Fund for the Balkans on November 20, 2013, organized an expert discussion on draft analysis on constitutional challenges and options for the Macedonian constitution in regards to the EU related political criteria.

In order to harvest the opinion of experts in constitutional matters related to EU accession process of Macedonia and at the same time to provide a venue where they can comments and give suggestions to the draft analysis, the Association Zenith organized this event in which leading specialist in the area took part.

Following the short introduction of the draft analysis, the representatives of the Association Zenith in cooperation with Dr. Tanja Karakamiseva Jovanovska, professor in Constitutional Law at the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje and Mr. Igor Spirovski, expert in Constitutional Law and former judge at the Constitutional Court of Macedonia expressed the importance of such an analysis and outlined the initial research findings. Afterwards, the floor was open for discussion. Ms. Margarita Caca Nikolovska, judge in the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and former Judge at the European Court of Human Rights put forward her expectations of the leading role the Constitutional Court of Macedonia should be taking in adjusting and modifying the Macedonian constitution. In the context of the required adjustment for EU accession, Dr. Bajram Polozani, professor in Constitutional law at the Faculty of Law at FON university and former judge at the Constitutional Court of Macedonia provide a brief assessment of the alignment of the Macedonian Constitution with the international treaties which Macedonian has already ratified. Other discussants followed giving their perspective and valuable contribution towards improving and finalizing the draft document.

Partner

Developing stakeholder participation in the working groups and bodies for EU integration: Civil society views

EU Integration Program, Forum/Expert discussion

Summary

The Association Zenith organized a Forum on March 18, 2013, titled “Developing stakeholder participation in the working groups and bodies for EU integration: civil society views“. The event attracted the interest of EU integration experts and other civil society organizations (CSO) representatives and was opened by the representative of the Civil Platform of Macedonia in the National European integration Council of Macedonia’s Parliament and the Executive Director of the Association Zenith.

The Forum program included a presentation and debate on the protocol for CSO engagement from the draft Rules of Procedure of the WG23, as well as a presentation of a call for CSOs and experts to express interest for consultations and activities that would be organized by the Working Group 23. Ms. Lidija Dimova from the Macedonian Centre on European Education, noted that participation of CSO representatives as external members in the EU integration working groups is insufficient, i.e. that CSO representatives should have full-fledged voting rights in these groups. The reflections on this matter clarified that an amendment is needed in the Executive order for creation of the working groups to enable such type of participation in these policy making teams which also function as EU integration structures. An important aspect of the discussion focused on the required capacities of state authorities and civil society organizations to implement this participatory mechanism, noting lack of stakeholder identification and consultation skills among government authorities and lack of a funding mechanism to support the participation of CSO representatives in the policy-making groups. On the latter, the Montenegrin model was presented, where the government financially supports such participation by trade unions, but not for the rest of the civil society. It was concluded that the civil society should work and advocate with the Government, the EU Delegation and the rest of the foreign donors and development partners community to find a solution for this funding challenge.

Ms. Emina Nuredinovska, from the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation, presented varying approaches and selection criteria for CSO participation in intersectoral bodies.

The final Rules of Procedure of the Working Group 23 with protocol for stakeholder cooperation are accessible here

Partners

Membership in the European Union: Constitutional Challenges for South East Europe Applicant Countries

EU Integration Program, Regional Conference

Summary

The conference gave an overview of the constitutional issues arising from SEE’s EU accession process. It also looked at how Albania, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro will approach or have already approached these constitutional issues in the context of accession negotiations, especially from a standpoint of introduction of constitution related benchmarks.

The analysis specifically conducted for the conference showed that there are no significant differences that SEE countries will face in the accession negotiations with respect to the areas in which constitutional issues have been identified. In comparison with previous EU enlargement round, the paper confirmed that there are standards that needed to be achieved on the EU accession path, however the solutions to the challenges in the constitutions for reaching these standards are different. Hence, there is no general model to follow, and each country will have to find a specific way.

Partners