There is no quality support for the students from vulnerable groups
The unequal interpretation of the regulations regarding the implementation of additional tuition as a mechanism for supporting students with poor achievements in the schools in Macedonia on one hand, and the deteriorating achievements of our students according to international researches on the other hand, were the impetus for the Foundation Open Society Macedonia (FOSM), to carry out two thorough analyses about the education of students with low achievements, within the framework of the ‘Roma Education Program’, co-funded by the Children's Foundation ‘Pestalozzi’.
The starting point of both analyzes conducted at the end of 2012 were children’s equal rights to education. The first analysis is based on an empirical-field research focused on students with poor school achievements and the purpose of the research is to examine the effects of additional tuition, i.e. whether and how much have the legal changes improved the quality of education for poor achievement students. The second comparative analysis "Measures for supporting students with poor achievements" provides an overview of the actions taken by various countries to help these students and provide suggestions for measures that would be most appropriate or necessary for the Macedonian educational system. These researches particularly focused on students coming from vulnerable population groups.
Regional Research Promotion Program in the Western Balkans – Closing Conference
Scientific research in social sciences remains marginalized
The conference “Improving Policies in the Field of Research in Social Sciences in the Republic of Macedonia" presenting the findings from four researches on applied policies was organized by the Regional Research Promotion Program in the Western Balkans (RRPP) on May 14, 2013. The researches were prepared by young researchers engaged in the component for improving the conditions in the area of social sciences.
During the conference, the results from the Regional Program so far were presented, and the issues with the implementation of the Law on Scientific Research and the anomalies of the Law on Higher Education were also covered. According to the assessments of the conference participants, the laws are not effectively implemented, and there is no sufficient financial support for scientific research, especially when it comes to social sciences. Slavica Indzevska from FOSM noted that social sciences research is increasingly marginalized, so science in Macedonia is not able to react to the social reality changes. According to Indzevska, there are expectations that the view on social sciences and processes would change through the Regional Program and other activities, and that the social sciences and processes would be addressed by the Macedonian institutions.
Information Sessions - Requests for Applications: Grants for Civil Society Organizations and Informal Groups
Click on the image for a PDF-version
Debate held by MCET and FOSM
Spring rains - Spring Report of the European Commission
The debate “Spring rains - Spring Report of the European Commission” organized by the Macedonian Centre for European Training (MCET) and the Foundation Open Society Macedonia was held on May 7, providing an opportunity to discuss the High-Level Accession Dialogue (HLAD), the political criteria and the functioning of the institutions, as well as the dialogue about the freedom of expression, good neighborly relations and the recommendations from the spring report of the European Commission.
Bojan Maricic from MCET compared the results achieved with HLAD in 2012 with this year's results, highlighting that not only is there no progress in the accession dialogue, but that we are even regressing in certain areas, particularly in the reforms of the public administration and the amendments to the Electoral Code. Commenting on the political dialogue, Maricic said that Macedonia is continuously entering one crisis after another, adding that only our country and BiH need international mediation to overcome their inter-party differences. Maricic recommended that Macedonia should determine together with the European Commission whether to maintain the HLAD or replace it with the agreement from March 1. He also requested a complete monitoring of the democratization of institutions and clarification of the events from December 24.
Analysis of the implementation of the Law on Free Access to Public Information
On April 30, Foundation Open Society Macedonia (FOSM) organized a promotion and a debate on the occasion of publishing ‘Six years later: Is the wall of silence cracking’, a publication addressing the implementation of the Law on Free Access to Public Information, as the sixth publication of the series ‘The application of the laws under scrutiny" published by FOSM’s Law Program.
According to the findings in the publication, seven years after the adoption of the Law, several concerning issues are still noticed, such as: the silence of the administration, the disregard for the legal form of communication by the information holders, the inconsistent application of the exceptions from free access and the long time necessary for a response. In the period from May to June 2012, the Foundation filed 732 requests for free access to public information, and appealed 296 requests, more than half of which were due to the silence of the administration, and the remaining ones for receiving answers that were too general or vague.
According to lawyer Zarko Hadji Zafirov, the provisions in the Law are often easily changed, and the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information is not able to initiate an infringement procedure against the institutions failing to share public information. The Commission is also encouraging the information holders to use the answers ‘I do not know’, or ‘Unknown’ to all requests for sensitive information. According to Hadji Zafirov, another major drawback is the limited and often change of the list of information holders because with the recent changes, the political parties have been removed from the list without any explanation.
Therefore, FOSM’s Law Program is providing several recommendations in this publication for better functioning of the Law on Free Access to Public Information. The information holders are required to voluntarily provide the required information and not to wait until the deadlines, but to do so immediately after receiving a request for public information. FOSM also recommends enabling the Commission to initiate infringement procedures.
USAID Civil Society Project
Request for Applications - Grants for Civil Society Organizations
The Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM), within the USAID Civil Society Project (CSP), announces the Request for Applications for awarding grants to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). CSP will support civil society to promote democratic reforms. CSP is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The purpose of this Request for Applications is to provide support to CSOs in the Republic of Macedonia through the following two types of grants:
1. Support to CSOs that act as democracy hubs in their communities, have long-term experience and credibility in promoting civic engagement, and have the capability to mobilize citizens and stimulate civic initiatives. (Grants up to US$ 20,000);
2. Support to CSOs engaged in government oversight and research-based advocacy in the following areas: Parliament, rule of law, judiciary, media, public spending, financing of political parties, policies targeting civil society, youth policies, gender equality, compliance with EU political criteria and absorption of EU funds. (Grants between US$ 10,000 and US$ 30,000).
FOSM will provide technical assistance to all project grantees based on their specific levels of competence and will provide opportunities for networking.
This request for applications will support innovative and bold proposals that: • directly support the objectives of CSP; • demonstrate a commitment to citizen outreach and inclusion, and effective strategies to engage or mobilize citizens; • provide creative and effective strategies for access to information and for policy input; • employ, when appropriate, strategic use of media in promoting objectives; • promote an integrative approach with special focus on ethnicity and gender; • foster partnerships and coalitions, especially when tackling difficult reform issues.
Submission Deadline: May 23, 2013 at 16:00 hours
Applications should be submitted to FOSM at Blvd. Jane Sandanski 111, 1000 Skopje.
The Handbook on European Anti-Discrimination Law drafted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and the European Court of Human Rights presents part of the impressive volume of case law in the area of non-discrimination created by the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the EU.
This is why the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia supported the printing and publishing of the Macedonian edition of the Handbook, because it seemed useful to make it available in Macedonian language for the legal practitioners, judges, prosecutors and lawyers, as well as for the officials responsible for the implementation of the Law on protection against discrimination. They are all at the frontlines of human rights protection and should be aware of the principles of non-discrimination so they could effectively apply them in the field.
An additional copy of the Handbook distributed to legal practitioners can be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org
Parliament should not adopt the 2012 Annual Report on the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information’s Work
Click on the picture for a PDF version
SEVENTEENTH REPORT ON THE MONITORING OF MACEDONIA'S EU ACCESSION PROCESS
1.3 million euros European money dubiously spent
The 17th Report on the Monitoring of Macedonia's EU Accession Process was published by the Macedonian Centre for European Training (MCET) in collaboration with the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM). The report is analyzing the work of the National Agency for Educational Programs and Mobility.
The report titled "Youth in Action" noted several cases of suspicious allocations of funds by the National Agency to youth civic associations, a phenomenon which also occured in 2010, prompting Brussels to freeze the funds intended for the National Agency.
ROMA EDUCATION PROJECT
USAID support improves education outcomes of Roma
On the occasion of the International Roma Day (April 8), USAID Macedonia Mission Director Robert Wuertz visited the Dendo Vas Center for Educational Support for Roma in Gorce Petrov Municipality. This Center, together with three other centers in Prilep and Kumanovo, has been part of the USAID Roma Education Project since 2004. Every year, the project provides assistance to around 200 preschool-age children to better prepare them for entering primary school. Additionally, the project provides out-of school support to 800 Roma primary school students to improve their school achievements.
“I am here today to congratulate you on International Roma Day and also to congratulate you on the results that the student-participants of the USAID Program are achieving in school, thanks to the support of the Center's educators , the support of their school teachers and their parents,” said Robert Wuertz, USAID Mission Director. “Good quality education is the key precondition for getting out of poverty and exclusion. Therefore I encourage you to continue the effort to assist young Roma to complete their education successfully so they can compete in the labor market and become actively involved in all spheres of society.”
The USAID Roma Education Project, implemented by Foundation Open Society – Macedonia, is a $4.5 million initiative that assists over 1,000 Roma students annually to improve their completion and achievement rates. From its start in 2004 to date, 298 secondary and 89 Roma university students completed their secondary and university education with USAID and FOSM support; and over 450 primary and 157 secondary school teachers received training in education for social justice and interactive teaching methods.
Foundations Open Society
The crisis in Europe is of great concern to me. The human cost is immense and growing. People are having difficulty making ends meet, are losing their jobs and even their homes.
Those people who suffer the most played no role in the crisis. Despite these difficult times, I believe in the promise of Europe and hope that together we can show solidarity.
December 24th is an expression of the government’s powerlessness
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) organized a debate on March 20 on the occasion of the promotion of the "Black Monday" book documenting the events that took place before, during and after the adoption of the 2013 Budget of the Republic of Macedonia.
Initiating the debate, university professor Svetomir Skaric indicated that December 24th is the day after which everyone must have a greater awareness about the constitutional degradation occurring in Macedonia. Hence, Skaric calls the attorneys to be more vigilant because the ruling majority has adopted laws and law amendments without adhering to the constitutional provisions and international declarations not only on December 24th, but many times before. Therefore, Skaric believes that the adopted laws are becoming a partisan instrument for conducting partisan programs, and that the budget was adopted only by the coalition partners in the government, for their own partisan purposes.
Demanding legal protection to be provided by the institutions
The members of the network for protection against discrimination strongly condemn the event in the Skopje City Mall trade center, whose management sent an e-mail to the "Land Service" company on January 9, 2013, asking the company not to employ Roma people for cleaning services in the food department.
We stress that the Commission for protection against discrimination, which condemned the event yesterday by issuing an announcement, should act on the case as soon as possible and through its own opinion, in accordance with the Law on Prevention and Protection Against Discrimination, determine direct discrimination based on racial and ethnic grounds, as a result of which the personal and moral integrity, dignity and reputation of Roma employed in "Land Service" was damaged, along with their privacy and their right of access to every job under the same conditions. The Commission for Protection against Discrimination should urgently initiate a misdemeanor procedure, determining the dual responsibility for discrimination, by both the person in charge and by the legal entity - Skopje City Mall.
The municipality of Bosilovo successfully completed the Community Forums Program
The last session within the framework of the Community Forums Program took place on February 20 in Bosilovo, being attended by about a hundred citizens, providing them with the results from the project conducted in Bosilovo since 2011.
Through a structured forum process, the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia enabled the citizens of the municipality of Bosilovo to allocate funds for the needs that have proven to be a priority.
During the last session of the forum process held on February 23, 2012, citizens allocated the project funds for reconstruction of the roof of the school's sports hall in the village of Turnovo and for the construction of a multipurpose public facility in the village of Stuka. These activities were successfully completed.
The municipality of Bosilovo implemented the projects in cooperation with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), with a joint fund of 3.6 million denars.
USAID Civil Society Project
Request for Applications - Ad-hoc Grants
The Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM), within the USAID Civil Society Project (CSP), announces the Request for Applications for awarding ad-hoc grants to civil society organizations (CSOs). CSP supports civil society to promote democratic reforms. CSP is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The purpose of this Request for Applications is to provide support to CSOs in the Republic of Macedonia through ad-hoc grants for CSOs and/or informal groups for actions around current pressing issues on local, regional or national level (ranging between US $ 2,000 and US $10,000).
FOSM will provide technical assistance to all project grantees based on their specific levels of competence and will provide opportunities for capacity building and networking.
This Request for Applications will support innovative and bold proposals that: • directly support the objectives of CSP; • demonstrate a commitment to citizen outreach and inclusion, and effective strategies to engage or mobilize citizens; • provide creative and effective strategies for access to information and for policy input; • employ, when appropriate, strategic use of media in promoting objectives; • promote an integrative approach with special focus on ethnicity and gender; • foster partnerships and coalitions, especially when tackling difficult reform issues.
There is no submission deadline.
Applications may be submitted any working day and decisions will be made on a rolling basis.
This RFA is open until August 31, 2013.
Applications should be submitted to FOSM at Blvd. Jane Sandanski 111, 1000 Skopje.
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia is not part of any negotiations for changing the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia, the identity of Macedonians or the Macedonian language. This country has a president, a prime minister, a minister of foreign affairs and a president of the Assembly, who are all paid by the citizens to make decisions and bear the responsibility for those decisions. Any further mentioning of FOSM in the context of the negotiations will be considered to be a fabrication and defamation, and an attempt to damage its honor and reputation.
FOSM welcomes the involvement of the civil society sector in the drafting of a Common Core Document
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) wrote to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Poposki and Dragana Kemera from the Department for Multilateral Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, hailing the process of drafting the Common core document and the attempt to include the associations and foundations from the Republic of Macedonia in this process. The transparent process of promoting the legal system in the Republic of Macedonia, through the involvement of the civil society sector in the process of harmonization of the Macedonian national legislation with the international human rights standards is the fundamental goal of FOSM’s Law Program.
FOSM also had remarks and recommendations aimed at improving the quality of the Common core document and its harmonization with the Guidelines on harmonized reporting under the international human rights treaties, including guidelines for the core document and reports on specific international agreements.
Ghost flights, black sites, and stories of appalling abuse.
Please take a minute to watch Amrit Singh of the Open Society Justice Initiative describe the grim realities of the CIA’s post-9/11 campaign of secret detention and torture.
She has compiled a first-of-its-kind report that tells the story of how the United States used its position to cajole, persuade, and strong-arm 54 other countries to take part in the CIA’s highly classified programs.
From Australia to Iran, Canada to Sweden, Hong Kong to Indonesia. The list is shocking.
Even though I—you—have heard many stories about what was done in the name of the war against terror, I found myself shocked again about what was done under the CIA’s secret programs after 9/11.
These are not the practices of an open society. Only with a full reckoning can the United States hope to close the door on this shameful chapter in its history.
Take a step toward puncturing the layers of secrecy. Watch—and share—this video.
Sincerely, George Soros Chairman and Founder, Open Society Foundations
Roundtable "Relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria - fourth halftime"
Relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria are too important to be left only to historians
The Macedonian Centre for European Training (MCET) and the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOOM) organized a round table entitled "Relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria - fourth halftime" on February 6, focusing on the good neighborly relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria, in the context of the conclusions of the European Council in December 2012 and the possibilities for resolving open issues through the European integration framework.
Javor Siderov, an independent researcher and analyst from Bulgaria said that the relations between Macedonia and Bulgaria are too important to be left only to the historians, particularly because there is a history that is being forgotten, but can be used for an improvement of the relations. According to Siderov, solutions for open issues require a strong political will, and political actors must perceive history as a guide to the future and not as an instrument for strengthening nationalism, which is defensive in this region, as a feature of nationalism of small nations.
Fourth session of the inter-municipal forum Struga - Debrca
The fourth session of the inter-municipal forum between the municipalities of Struga and Debarca took place on January 30, 2013, attended by about a hundred residents from the two municipalities.
Five project concepts were presented by the working groups at the session. The concepts developed at this inter-municipal forum were in the area of "Waste collection":
1. Establishment of a system for primary selection and waste collection in the municipalities of Debrca and Struga
2. Construction of a stray dogs shelter for the municipalities of Struga and Debrca
3. Establishment of a system for organic waste treatment – underground containers
4. Construction of a station for secondary selection of waste for the municipalities of Struga and Debrca
5. Preparation of a comparative analysis for treatment of waste in the municipalities of Struga and Debrca
At the upcoming 5th forum session, citizens who have attended at least three forum sessions will be entitled to participate in the selection of the project which is to be implemented.
USAID Civil Society Project
Grants Awarded for Civil Society Organization (CSO) Fellowships
In response to the Request for Applications of the USAID Civil Society Project for Small Grants for CSO Fellowships, a total of 31 applications were submitted by CSOs to the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia. Based on the available budget, nine research project proposals were selected for grants totaling $21,220.
These grants are made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. Selected projects will be implemented for a period of six months..
My Dear Fellow Clergymen: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities "unwise and untimely." Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I want to try to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.
I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.
Call for Participants at the School for Active Citizenship
The School for Active Citizenship has been organized to train youth, representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and informal groups in the necessary knowledge and skills for undertaking civic initiatives.
Within the School for Active Citizenship, Forum-Center for Strategic Research and Documentation (Forum-CSRD) announces this call for a new group of participants who will attend three training modules in 2013. The first module will be held in February, the second in May and the third in December.
The first module is an introduction aimed at familiarizing participants with the basic terms and tools necessary for active civic engagement. The subjects to be covered will include: • Introduction to the terminology of civil society • The structure of society and the place of the civil sector • Civic initiative • The citizen, his/her place and opportunities for active participation in the public sphere (state, politics, civil society, media)
The second module will focus on adopting and developing practical tools related to: • Civil society public relations and relations with authorities as part of civic activism • Communications with the media • Oratory skills
The third module is a one-day session where training participants will have an opportunity to share their experiences with the first and second group of participants of the School for Active Citizenship.
Criteria that should be met by the applicant: • Age range: 18 - 35 years old • Active membership in a CSO or informal group
The ethnic and gender balance of the group will be considered in the selection of participants.
Candidates interested in attending the School should email their CV to the Forum-CSRD project coordinator, Sonja Ismail, at: email@example.com, together with a letter of motivation.
Deadline for application: January 31, 2013.
CEM demand resignation from Veljanoski, Jankulovska and Gruevski
Citizens for European Macedonia (CEM) demand the resignation from the President of Parliament, Trajko Veljanoski, on the grounds of allowing Police intrusion of the Parliament, thus violently destroying the Constitutional order in the Republic of Macedonia. Trajko Veljanoski’s responsibility is reflected in the following facts:
1) The violation of Article 70 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia: “Sessions of the Parliament shall be public. The Parliament may decide to work without public scrutiny only by means of a decision adopted by two-thirds majority vote from the total number of MPs”. Without such a decision (for the absence of public scrutiny), Trajko Veljanoski in effect enabled the violent eviction of journalists from the Parliament at the time of adoption of the Law on the General Budget.
2) The violation of ten other articles of the Constitution that stipulate the rights of MPs and their term of office. By enabling the violent expulsion of a group of MPs from Parliament during a plenary session, Trajko Veljanoski suspended their constitutional rights and degraded their term of office.
3) The violation of the Law on Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia, especially Article 43, paragraph 3: “As regards disturbing the order within the Parliament by MPs or by external persons who participate in the work of the Parliament, a decision shall be taken and measures shall be issued by the President of Parliament, upon previous consultations with the Vice Presidents and the coordinators of the parliamentary groups”. Trajko Veljanoski made a frivolous decision to implement measures without previous consultations with the Vice Presidents and the coordinators of the parliamentary groups, while some of them were forcefully expelled from the Parliament’s hall, together with other MPs from the opposition.
Successive forum session in the municipality of Gostivar
The end of the infrastructural part of the “Community Forums” project implemented in the municipality of Gostivar was promoted on December 20. During the session, which was attended by 75 citizens, representatives of the municipality presented the results of the recommendations made by the citizens of the municipality during the forum process.
In the period from September 2011 to December 2012, the citizens of the municipality of Gostivar had the opportunity to participate in the series of budget forums implemented by the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia. At the fifth forum session, the citizens of Gostivar decided by majority vote that the funds from the project fund should be allocated for the arrangement of the Vardar quay in the municipal budget for 2012. The project was completed by mid-December 2012. During the forums, the citizens of Gostivar submitted 14 recommendations to the municipality, related to the construction of the budget for 2012.
A total of five projects were developed by the end of the forum process. One of them is the arrangement of the Vardar quay, funded by the project fund. From the remaining four projects that were not included in the project fund, three are planned and implemented within the framework of this year's municipal budget. The implementation of the final project was left for the next budget year.
The Call for Papers for the RRPP Annual Conference 2013 is announced
All interested young researchers and scientists are invited to apply to participate at the RRPP Annual Conference that will take place in Belgrade, Serbia from 23-26 May 2013.
The main objectives of the conference are:
- To provide opportunities for researchers dealing with the region to meet, network, exchange and discuss their research projects and results; - To discuss the challenges, contradictions and ambivalences in the transformation process of the social sciences field within the Balkans; - To discuss potential areas that may be addressed to more effectively influence policy development with the aid of scientific research results.
Eligible Candidates: PhD students and recent PhD graduates (2009 and later) dealing with the Western Balkans, eager to present and discuss their research work with colleagues from the region and beyond (especially current research results) that relate to our general topic "Social, Political and Economic Change in the Western Balkans".
More specifically, papers should fit into one of the following panels:
1) Gender Politics and Discourses 2) Media, Political and Social Discourses 3) New Social Disparities/Social and Economic Change 4) States, Networks and Informality 5) Migration, Diasporas and Remittances
Papers to be presented can handle topics within the region in general or deal with the processes of change in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
All interested candidates should submit a single PDF file containing a short Curriculum Vitae (max. 1 page), an abstract of the proposed conference paper (max. 300 words) and a short letter of motivation (max. 1 page) by 19 January 2013 at the latest to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
REGIONAL RESEARCH PROMOTION PROGRAM IN THE WESTERN BALKANS
Macedonia - somewhere at the bottom of the research map
As part of the Regional Research Promotion Program in the Western Balkans, the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia organized a debate on "Networking and mobility in social sciences: Where are we on the research map?" on December 20, 2012, analyzing the current situation in the field of mobility and networking, the opportunities and the institutional support for creating conditions and enabling development of the scientific and research activities in the Republic of Macedonia through international cooperation.
Maja Bojadzievska, professor at the Faculty of Philology and moderator of the debate, emphasized the importance of discussing on this crucial topic and expressed regrets that neither this one, nor the previous debates were attended by the ones who were most concerned. Professor Bojadzievska said that the topic of networking and mobility is an extension of the previous discussions and expressed hope that during this debate we will not get poor results again, defining practice and reality, as opposed to what is written in the laws and rulebooks.
Grants Awarded for Joint Actions of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)
In response to the Request for Applications of the USAID Civil Society Project (CSP) for Grants for Joint Actions of CSOs, a total of 78 applications were submitted by civil society organizations to the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM). Based on the available budget, four project proposals were selected for grants totaling $56,413.
These grants are made possible by the generous support of the American people through United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Selected projects will be implemented for a period of five to eight months.
Forum sessions in the municipalities of Struga, Debrca and Mogila
The community forums program continued with the realization of the forum sessions in the municipalities of Struga, Debrca and Mogila in December 2012.
The fourth session of the inter-municipal forum process between the municipalities of Struga and Debrca was held on December 6. During the session, eighty citizens from the two municipalities reviewed the concepts that will be used for developing projects. The following project proposals were approved by the forum for further preparation: the construction of an appropriate landfill; establishment of a system for organic waste treatment; construction of a station for primary waste selection; establishment of a system for waste collection and waste recycling.
The projects for implementation will be selected from these concepts by voting in the next forum session.
International Conference on the performance fee project "Openly about the performance fee: Who benefits and who loses?"
The international conference on the performance fee project “Openly about the performance fee: Who benefits and who loses” took place on December 16, 10:00h at the Holiday Inn hotel, Millennium 1 Hall, with the support of the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia.
The purpose of the conference (through a debate based on a scientific approach, with data and experiences from other European countries) was to offer answers to several key questions: Who benefits, and who loses from this reform? What are the dangers and opportunities when designing reforms related to performance pay? How to make a successful project?
“TRANSPARENT AND EFFICIENT DECENTRALIZATION” PROJECT
Promotion of the survey on citizens' satisfaction with municipal services - "Voice of the citizens"
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM), in cooperation with the Centre for Local Democracy Development, and within the framework of the "Transparent and efficient decentralization" project, will promote the report titled "Voice of the citizens" in 12 partner municipalities, including the survey on citizens' satisfaction with municipal services in the Republic of Macedonia in 2012.
This report is based on the field survey conducted to measure citizens' satisfaction with the services of local authorities in 2012. Given the fact that this kind of survey is conducted for the third year in a row, one can carry out a comparative analysis of the trend of citizens' satisfaction with the services they have been receiving from the local authorities for the period 2010, 2011 and 2012.
OPEN SOCIETY FOUNDATIONS JUSTICE INITIATIVE PROGRAM
European Court justified the struggle for justice related to illegal extradition
NEW YORK, 13/12/2012 - Today the European Court of Human Rights justified the long quest for justice of Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen who was the victim of an operation for illegal extradition conducted nine years ago by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In its decision which sets a rule, the European Court offered by far the most comprehensive condemnation by a judicial body for what is called "torture" by the CIA during the campaign for illegal extraditions of persons suspected for terrorism, which was launched after the September 11 attacks on the United States of America.
In addition to the condemnation for the groundless arrest, detention and interrogation of El-Masri, the court found that the so-called "capture shock" techniques applied by the CIA agents during the preparation of his illegal aircraft extradition to Afghanistan include degrading harassment which constitutes torture. Furthermore, the court's decision states that El-Masri's allegations about the harassment which he has undergone in a period exceeding four months while he was detained by the U.S. are "truthful without any doubt."
The first cycle of small school Intercultural initiatives has been successfully completed
On December 12, the results from the first cycle of the project Small school intercultural initiatives were presented. The project is implemented by the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia within the framework of USAID’s Roma Education Program, in cooperation with four partner NGOs and seven elementary schools from the municipalities of Prilep, Kumanovo and Gjorce Petrov.
Spomenka Lazarevska, director of FOSM’s Education Program discussed about the objectives and activities of the Program, and said that she will let the students and the teachers – the ones that this program is intended for - speak about the results. Furthermore, she briefly explained the goals of the small grants intended for primary schools involved in the project. USAID’s Macedonia Education Office director LeAnna Marr congratulated everyone involved in the program, which according to her is one of the best in the world, and as further evidence outlined the fact that the Ministry of Education and Science recognizes the benefits of the program and is actively involved in providing scholarships to Roma students.
DEBATE "PROTECTED WITNESS – BETWEEN THE RULE OF LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION"
The protected witness limits the right to defense
The special investigative measure for concealment of the identity of protected witnesses in Macedonia is full of ambiguities and contradictions. Only the statement of the protected witness is often sufficient for prosecution and a ruling, and a number of protected witnesses so far have been charged for the same or for another criminal act, and have been cases in which even though the witness had a concealed identity, everyone knew who he was. These are part of the conclusions presented at the debate entitled “Protected witness - between the rule of law and human rights violation" held on December 10th, organized by the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia, the Helsinki Committee and the Institute for Human Rights.
The USAID Civil Society Project (CSP) announces a Call for Participants in training to build the capacities of civil society organizations (CSOs) for government oversight and advocacy.
A total of 10 training sessions will be held between December 2012 and April 2013 on the following topics: - Writing Effective Policy Papers - Advocacy Workshop - EU Accession Process - Monitoring of Public Spending - Monitoring of the Decentralization Implementation Process, and - Research and Monitoring Methodologies
Candidates for participation in the training should meet the following criteria: - Be an active member in a CSO or informal group; - Show interest in and understanding of key civil society issues at the local and/or national level; - Show interest in monitoring the work of government institutions on the local and national levels.
All interested applicants should apply by December 16, 2012, by sending a CV and a completed application form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The number of participants is limited. Candidates may apply for one or more topics; a maximum of two representatives per organization can be accepted for a training topic. The ethnic and gender balance of the groups will be also taken into consideration during the selection process. Participation in the training is free of charge. Candidates should be available to participate in the training sessions during the above mentioned period. Training will be conducted in Macedonian by experienced trainers of the above mentioned topics.
More information at: 02/ 24 77 131 Katerina Nikolova
USAID Civil Society Project
Call for Participants
CSO Workshop to Strengthen Capacities for Grant Applications: Reflection on the Applications from the First Grant Cycle
The USAID Civil Society Project (CSP) aims to support CSO efforts to conduct government oversight and advocacy, build constituencies in their communities and mobilize citizens to address core democratic issues at the local and national levels.
CSP announces a Call for Participants to attend a workshop designed as a learning and reflection tool for CSOs wishing to apply for a grant under the USAID Civil Society Project. During the workshop, participants will be able to:
- learn about successful applications and identify the biggest strengths projects selected for support; - reflect on the most common mistakes CSOs made under the first Request for Applications (RFA) and understand the biggest weaknesses; - identify possible ways to strengthen their project planning capacities; and - network with CSOs with similar missions and other potential partners.
Candidates for participation in these workshops should meet the following criteria: - Be an active member in a CSO or informal group; - Show interest in and understanding of key civil society issues at the local and/or national level.
All interested applicants should apply by December 12, 2012, by sending a CV and a completed application form to email@example.com. The application form for participants can be downloaded from here.
Depending on the number of applications received, several workshops will be organized between December 17 and 25, 2012. Applicants are expected to be able to attend the one-day workshop during this period. Efforts will be made to accept all applicants; therefore a maximum of two persons per organization can apply.
More information at: 02/3245-536 Tamara Atanasovska
Roma and the implementation of the Law on dealing with illegally constructed buildings
On November 30, 2012 Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM), Habitat for Humanity Macedonia and the National Roma Centrum (NRC) held the round table "Roma and the implementation of the Law on dealing with illegally constructed buildings – conditions and challenges", during which participants discussed about the situation with the implementation of the Law on dealing with illegally constructed buildings and the challenges that the Roma community is facing.
Opening the debate, Slavica Indzevska, program director at FOSM, noted that the "Legalization of Roma housing" project funded by the Open Society Foundations’ Emergency Fund for Alleviation of the Consequences of the Economic Crisis, the Budapest Roma Initiatives Office and Habitat Macedonia, and directly implemented by Habitat and NRC aims to help Roma families to legalize the illegally constructed homes and thus exercise the human right to housing as a key requirement for the integration of marginalized groups.
PROMOTION OF 'THE CONTEST FOR MACEDONIAN IDENTITY 1870-1912'
A book that speaks of the continuity of Macedonian identity
On November 29, Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) promoted the Macedonian edition of the book "The Contest for Macedonian Identity 1870-1912" by author Nick Anastasovski, published in 2006 as a doctoral thesis at the Victoria University in Australia.
FOSM’s executive director Vladimir Milcin noted that the period covered in the book is the period during which the term nation emerged and was introduced in Europe and the Balkans, and the period during which the rule of the Ottoman Empire ended. Period in which the Macedonians didn't have an officially recognized element defining the nation, such as language, church, culture, education, hence the Macedonian nation was under constant pressure and attempts for assimilation by the other neighboring nations. Speaking of identity, Milcin noted that the Macedonians managed to preserve their identity in these turbulent times and asked if today, when we have our own country and we have all the elements of the nation, we are strong enough to strengthen and deepen the identity, especially if we take into account the fact that people originating from here, and living far away from Macedonia, do much more about the identity, although they have significantly less resources available.
Fourth forum session held in the municipality of Mogila
The fourth forum session from the series of budget forums was held on November 23 in the municipality of Mogila. During the session, 83 citizens had the opportunity to hear the project proposals for the municipal budget for 2013 - proposals drafted by the municipal administration based on the discussions and proposals made during the three previous forum sessions.
The proposals for infrastructural projects that need to be planned in the budget for 2013 refer to the following municipal problems: construction of a fountain, paving of the road – Beranica, legalization of the electrical connection to the sports hall, naming of streets in the municipality and the establishment of a livestock market.
Participants were addressed by the mayor Slavko Velevski, and during the forum session there was an explanation about the rules for selecting a priority program and projects that will be financed from the budget of the Community Forums Program and the municipality.
Macedonian lustration is a socially detrimental process
The November 28th promotion of the book "Macedonian lustration (1999-2012) - events, statements, titles; Application of the lustration regulations" was organized by the Law Program of the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia as one of the events held in celebration of FOSM’s 20th anniversary.
Historian Harold Schenker noted that from a historical aspect, lustration is an instrument of moral and political de-qualification of society, which depends on the transition process and on the brutality of the past regime. For Schenker, it is important to start the lustration as soon as possible after the change of the system, because that is the time when it is most effective as an instrument, and its implementation depends greatly on the public debate on lustration, which is not sufficiently present in Macedonia.
Promotion of the book “Macedonia’s Child-Grandfathers: The Transnational Politics of Memory, Exile, and Return, 1948-1998” by Keith Brown
Anthropological document about the collective identity of the refugee children
On 27 November 2012, the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) held a debate and promotion of the book “Macedonia’s Child-Grandfathers: The Transnational Politics of Memory, Exile, and Return, 1948-1998” by Keith Brown.
Talking about the author of the work, the debate moderator - FOSM’s Executive Board president Gordana Duvnjak said that although Brown has close friendships with people from Macedonia, he still has an unbiased approach to the fate of refugee children, and that his writing is not burdened by the daily political influences on this topic. Furthermore, Brown’s views on the Civil War in Greece differ from the views of the majority of historians, but Brown is creating books that are open for debate, and not final documents, Duvnjak said.
Our money belongs to the government, and its debts belong to us
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia organized the debate "Who does our money belong to" on November 2, during which the constant state borrowing was discussed, as well as the amount of the debt, its sustainability and the consequences of borrowing on the overall economic situation in Macedonia.
According to the debate moderator - journalist Ida Protugjer, the purpose of this debate is to raise the awareness among citizens that the money that is available to the government does not actually belong to it, but to all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia and that through elections, citizens only give winning parties the right to manage public money. According to Protugjer, with this right also comes along a big responsibility to properly use the budget funds.
FOSM and Citizens' Association HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje
Screening of the documentary "Waiting for the inevitable"
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) held a debate and screening of the documentary "Waiting for the inevitable" on November 23, in cooperation with the Citizens' Association HOPS - Healthy Options Project Skopje. This film shows the court proceedings after the police action "suppression of street prostitution" in November 2008, when male and female sex workers were detained and forcefully tested for HIV and hepatitis C virus.
Ninoslav Mladenovic, Advisor to the UN Resident Coordinator on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) discussed about the legal elements of the European judicial systems and the recommendations made by UNAIDS regarding this topic. Mladenovic presented the amendments to the laws in a number of European countries, as part of the efforts to end the criminalization of marginalized groups, with particular emphasis on sex workers, i.e. amendments that lead to decriminalization of the unintended transmission of HIV/AIDS. Mladenovic expressed hope that a procedure would be initiated for amending Article 205, thereby eliminating the opportunities for its abuse.
REGIONAL RESEARCH PROMOTION PROGRAMME IN THE WESTERN BALKANS
Failing to abide by the law, the lack of an adequate strategy and support programs and the lack of funds are the main obstacles in the development of scientific research
The Foundation Open Society - Macedonia organized the November 22nd debate on the topic "Supporting research in social sciences – challenges and perspectives" as part of the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans.
Opening the debate, journalist Biljana Jovanovska noted that the situation with the institutional support for young researchers in the social sciences is not good at all, and moreover there is an unjustified silence by the academic and the professional public. "There is not enough money to fund research projects and projects in social sciences are seldom funded. Government is completely marginalizing social sciences, which raises the suspicion of deliberately marginalizing social sciences because they create critical thought which is the driving force of society.
PROMOTION OF THE STUDY “PARLIAMENTARY CONTROL OVER THE GOVERNMENT OF THE RM
The Assembly is completely dominated by the government
As one of the events for celebrating its 20th anniversary, the Foundation Open Society Macedonia (FOSM) organized a promotion of the fourth edition from the series "The application of the laws under scrutiny" on November 21, 2012, dedicated to the parliamentary control over the government. All participants in the promotion and the debate agreed that at this point, the Assembly does not perform its constitutional function as a controller of the government, and that the government is the one exercising complete domination over the Assembly.
Local and Regional Development - Potential or Deception
On November 20 , the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) and the Centre for Local Democracy Development, organized a conference entitled “Local and Regional Development - Potential or Deception.” The conference focused on the progress of the decentralization process in Macedonia and the challenges of local and regional development.
Opening remarks were delivered by Gordana Duvnjak, president of FOSM’s Executive Board, Robert Wuertz, USAID Mission Director in Macedonia, and Association of the Units of Local Self-Government (ZELS) Vice President, Zoran Damjanovski.
Forum sessions held in the municipalities of Lipkovo and Mogila and the inter-municipal forum in Struga and Debrca
Forum sessions were held in four municipalities in Macedonia in November as part of the project "Community Forums Program". The project strengthens civic participation in the decision-making process on a local level, in order to foster partnerships between local entities and to find more efficient solutions to problems that are of interest to the local community.
The second forum session of the series of inter-municipal forums between the municipalities of Struga and Debrca was held on November 1 in Debarca, and was attended by hundreds of citizens from both municipalities. During the session, the citizens outlined the environmental pollution problems and the need to urgently address the waste problem, and each work table suggested five ways for solving the problems of these two municipalities. Until the next session of the inter-municipal forum, which is to be held in the municipality of Struga, these proposals will be developed in project concepts.
PROMOTION OF 'CHILDREN OF THE GREEK CIVIL WAR, REFUGEES AND THE POLITICS OF MEMORY'
The persecution of Macedonian children was a systematic breaking of the Macedonian national core in Greece
On November 16, the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) organized a promotion of the book ‘Children of the Greek Civil War, Refugees and the Politics of Memory’ by Loring M. Danforth and Riki Van Boeschoten which is a scientific work that successfully combines archival sources with the ethnographic field research of two authors writing about the Greek Civil War and evacuation programs for 38,000 children.
Speaking about the historical aspect of the book, one of the promoters, Todor Cepreganov, Director of the Institute of Natural History noted that the evacuation of children from Aegean Macedonia in the past decades did not receive the deserved attention from historians, but in recent years publications dealing with the persecution of refugee children have become more frequent. Although the evacuation Macedonian children was presented as a humanitarian action sparing them from the horrors of the war, the persecution of Macedonian children was actually a systematic breaking of the Macedonian national core in northern Greece, concluded Cepreganov.
Projectitis - the Dutch disease of EU funding targeting Roma
Analysis of EU funding for the Roma
There is a disease affecting the Roma civil society in European Union similar to the Dutch disease – I call it projectitis. The Dutch disease linked an increase of available natural resources to a decrease of manufacturing output and a paradoxical economic downturn. I argue in my analysis that the explosion of available funds for Roma inclusion (if not seriously rethought) leads to a significant increase of paper production, rhetoric, expensive meetings and an overall decrease in efficiency of public money, grassroots work, erosion and disappearance of some of the most important pillars of the Roma civil society. This analysis might well apply to civil society in general but my expertise gives me more legitimacy to argue about the Roma civil society.
The explosion of the European money available for the Roma inclusion came with some significant problems. Left unaddressed these problems will lead to a disaster. Some argue that we already have a disaster.
The arguments here are not against European Funds or EU Roma Framework Strategy. Those, I believe, are very much needed as otherwise Member States with significant Roma population will probably continue to do nothing to address anti-Gypsyism and Roma exclusion. It is much more comfortable for Central and Eastern European governments to tacitly encourage Roma migration and ask the European Union to solve “their”(Roma) problems. Many times in the past high-level officials did not hesitate in drawing a very clear but racist line between"them" Roma and “real” national citizens.
PROMOTION OF THE BOOK "GOD IS NOT GREAT" BY CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS
The work of Hitchens as a reason for religious debate
Foundation Open Society – Macedonia organized a debate on November 9 on the occasion of the publication of the book "god is not Great” by Christopher Hichens in Macedonian language. Hitchens is a reknown British journalist, writer and public speaker, and the book was originally published in 2007 with a circulation of half a million copies.
Opening the event, moderator Biljana Bejkova outlined that the debate and the promotion of "god is not Great" is not accidentally organized on November 9th, the same day when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. On this day, according to Hitchens, a great human energy was released and this type of event – the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War show how much obedience, subordination and slavery are not inherent to humans. According to Bejkova, Hitchens’ main motive is to challenge and to debate. “Hichens was convinced that conflict is desirable. He believed that the words unity and unification have a great privilege that they do not deserve. In a recent interview for BBC he said: ‘I am not a unifier, I'm a divider. I think that only dissolution can bring progress. Politics by its definition is separation. I refuse someone to tell me what to think and how to think, how to write, especially not someone who believes in fiction’ underlined Bejkova.
‘Kheljar Man’ by Shutka Roma Rap on ‘The Womeximizer 2012’ compilation
The track ‘Kheljar Man’ (Make me dance) by Shutka Roma Rap is now included in the compilation ‘The Womeximizer 2012." The CD includes the tracks of the 20 most interesting performers from this year's edition of the world music fair ‘Womex’, which took place from October 17 to 21 in Thessaloniki. Shutka Roma Rap presented itself at the renowned event on the ‘Club Globalkan’ stage dedicated to music from the Balkans. They were among the nine performers selected to perform at this stage out of the 300 candidates.
Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans
The commercial Thomson list cannot be a prerequisite for advancement in the academic and scientific career in social sciences
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia organized a debate within the framework of the Regional Research Promotion Programme in the Western Balkans on November 6, on the topic of "How much is the Law on Scientific Research Activity providing academic excellence in social sciences."
According to the debate moderator Irena Cvetkovic, the debate is organized in order to raise the issue about the sensitivity of the criteria for evaluation and promotion of academic excellence in the area of social sciences in terms of scientific values specified with the Law on Scientific Research Activity. Therefore, there was a discussion about the criteria according to which the academic papers of Macedonian researchers are being evaluated, and a discussion about the Thomson database of academic journals and its impact factor as a reference list for quotation.
The phototype edition of the first English version of ‘Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language’ promoted
On November 5, the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia promoted the phototype edition of "Grammar of the Macedonian Literary Language" by Horace G. Lunt.
Opening the promotion, FOSM’s executive director Vladimir Milcin noted that in a time when the Macedonian language is being neglected, when the significance of Blaze Koneski and the connection with Slavism is being denied, the Foundation sees the release of this book as necessary for the protection of the Macedonian language and nation, as opposed to the numerous accusations that FOSM has ‘anti-state’ policies. Milcin reminded that the ‘Grammar’ of Lant was a strong scientific argument at the time of publishing against the denial of the Macedonian language by the neighbors, a denial that continues to this day.
The perspectives of Macedonia – full speed ahead until December 2012
The November 2nd “Chance or Challenge” conference, organized by the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM) and the Macedonian Centre for European Training to celebrate FOSM’s 20th anniversary, addressed selected topics pertaining to the progress of European integration processes.
“Today's conference is important both essentially and symbolically, as it marks FOSM’s 20th anniversary and the 10th anniversary of the Macedonian Centre for European Training - a dedicated partner in our efforts for Macedonia’s EU accession. We are guided by the interests of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia” said Vladimir Milcin.
Macedonian territorial organization as an example for Moldova
During the study visit of the Moldovan high delegation as part of the project "Provision of transformation through the implementation of administrative-territorial reforms", the round table ‘Territorial Organization in Macedonia’ was held on November 2, 2012. Speakers at the round table: Jove Kekenovski Ph.D., professor Rizvan Sulejmani, Goran Angelov, Ace Kocevski and other experts, active participants in the process of administrative and territorial organization of the Republic of Macedonia.
The twelve member Moldovan delegation composed of: the State Chancellor and Deputy State Secretary of the Cabinet of the President of the Republic of Moldova, the presidents of the Regional Councils of Hinesti, Ungeni, Sorosa, Orfei, Telenesti and Leova, the mayor of the municipality of Mindresti, as well as representatives from the NGOs arrived in Macedonia on October 29. The delegation visited the municipalities of Gostivar, Veles, Aerodrom, Ilinden and Kavadarci, and the City of Skopje and was familiarized with the Macedonian experience in the implementation of the administrative territorial reforms. During the visit, members of the delegation met with representatives of the Ministry of Local Self-Government, mayors, civil society organizations, university professors and other experts involved in the decentralization process in the Republic of Macedonia.
The Moldovan delegation will convey the experiences acquired during the study visit in designing their own model of territorial organization.
The study visit is part of the project "Providing transformation through the implementation of administrative-territorial reform", implemented by the Institute for dynamic development "Sfera Nova" from the Republic of Macedonia and the Business Consulting Institute (BCI) from Moldova, in order to exchange experiences in the field of territorial organization, decentralization, and their effective implementation in practice. The project is financially supported by the Foundation Open Society Institute - Macedonia, within the framework of the program East-East Beyond Borders.
Reaction of 58 organizations submitted to the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption
Reaction issued by 58 organizations concerning the needs identified by the State Commission forPrevention of Corruption for introducing an obligation for members of executive bodies of CSOs to submit asset declarations and declarations of interests.
58 organizations issued a reaction on October 31 concerning the needs identified by the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) to amend: (1) the Law on Associations and Foundations, (2) the Law on Prevention of Corruption, and (3) the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interests according to the State Programme for Prevention and Repression of Corruption and the State Programme for Prevention and Reduction of Conflict of Interests and the accompanying Action Plans 2011-2015.
Namely, 58 organizations address the president of SCPC in order to emphasize the remarks and suggestions related to certain solutions proposed with a view to eliminate problems identified in the Section XI – Media and Civil Society from the State Programme for Prevention and Repression of Corruption and the State Programme for Prevention and Reduction of Conflict of In¬terests and the accompanying Action Plans 2011-2015 (hereinafter: State Programmes with accompanying Action Plans). Namely, instead of enhancing the cooperation with civil society in the fight against corruption, the State Programmes and the accompanying Action Plans identified the need to amend the legal framework governing the obligations of the civil society, thereby imposing new obligations that are contrary to civil society’s main goal, role and activities, i.e., to act as “watchdog” or to control the public sec¬tor operation.
According to the 58 organizations, unclear is the analysis, recommendations and/or comparative practices on the basis of which SCPC has identified the need for introducing an obligation for members of executive bodies of CSOs to submit asset declarations and declarations of interests. The activity anticipated under the State Programmes and the accompanying Action Plans according to which members of executive bodies of CSOs (which include Presidents, Executive Directors and Members of Executive Boards) are obliged to submit asset declarations and declarations of interests, is contrary to the international regulations in the field of prevention of corruption, in particular the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
The 58 organizations refuse to believe that by amending the Law on Prevention of Corrup¬tion and the Law on Prevention of Conflict of Interests, SCPC intends to introduce obligations for the civil society that would imply public sec¬tor’s control over the civil society, instead of the other way around, as by definition, the civil society plays the role of “watchdog” over public sector’s performance. Therefore, we request the above-indicated title to revise Section XI – Media and Civil Society from the State Programmes and the accompanying Action Plans and, in that, give due consideration to these proposals.
Forum sessions held in the municipalities of Karpos, Lipkovo and Mogila
Forum sessions were held in three municipalities in Macedonia in October within the framework of the Community Forums Program. The project strengthens civic participation in the decision-making process on a local level in order to promote partnerships between local entities and to find more effective solutions to problems that are of interest to the local community.
The fourth forum session in the municipality of Lipkovo was held on October 18, attended by 104 people. During the session, the nine project proposals of the working groups created during the forum process were presented. All project proposals were approved for voting at the next, fifth forum session. Citizens will choose which project proposals are to be implemented from the following proposals: asphalting streets in the Municipality of Lipkovo; building a children's playground with equipment; lighting the yard of the ‘Medical Center’ and purchasing a medical vehicle for the needs of the municipality; central heating in the elementary school ‘7th of March’; cleaning the riverbed of Lipkovo and illegal dumpsites; reconstruction of the elementary school ‘Riljinda’; reconstruction of the elementary school ‘Faik Konica’; reconstruction of the water supply system in Vaksince, Orizare, Otlja and Matejce and reconstruction of the bridge on the local road Slupcane - Orizare.
In the municipality of Karpos, the fifth, penultimate forum session of the Community Forums Program was held on October 19, in the premises of the elementary school ‘Lazo Trpovski’. In the presence of more than 200 participants, and out of the five project proposals for funding from the project fund, the citizens chose the project ‘Improvement of the conditions for implementation of educational and teaching work and reduction of operating costs in JUODG Prolet’ with a total budget of 5,607,802,00 denars.
Mayor of Karpos Stevco Jakimovski, expressed his satisfaction with the presence and great interest of the citizens, and with the quality of the developed projects and promised that the projects which will not be funded from the program’s project fund will be funded from other sources. Jakimovski announced that next year the municipality will provide funds for implementation of Forum sessions in each of the local communities, so that the citizens themselves detect and decide about the priorities.
In the municipality of Mogila, the project continued with the implementation of the second session of the series of budget forums on October 23. At the forum session, hundreds of citizens had the opportunity to get acquainted with the various fundamentals of municipal budget revenues and generated revenues in 2012. The citizens were also presented with the municipal development plan and the strategic priorities for 2013. Citizens also discussed opportunities to increase revenues in the budget.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT
Macedonia: Government must protect LGBTI people from discrimination
The recent attack against a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Support Centre in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, underscores the urgent need for protection in law against any forms of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, said Amnesty International today.
In the early hours of 24 October, the office of the newly established Support Centre for the LGBTI Community in the capital Skopje was stoned and several windows broken. According to the police, the attack was perpetrated during the night by three masked people. Fortunately the building was not occupied, and no one was injured.
Discrimination against LGBT people in Macedonia and the need for anti-discrimination laws to combat it are well-documented. For example, on 10 October 2012, the European Commission reported that “The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community continue to suffer from discrimination and stigmatisation”. The Commission also repeated their concerns that discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation had still not been included into the Anti-Discrimination Law.
Two days later, on 12 October, the Minister for Social Affairs, responsible for ensuring protection from discrimination, rather than acknowledging the need to uphold the rights of LGBT people, took the opportunity at the UNICEF conference to state his opposition to equal marriage for LGBT people. He subsequently reiterated his position on a national TV station, and later on his personal Facebook page. President Gruevski too also criticized calls for marriage equality by linking it to falling birth rates.
The Macedonian authorities have so far failed to include protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Law on prevention and protection against discrimination which entered into force on 1 January 2011. Nor is there any provision in law for the investigation and prosecution of hate crimes, including on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Amnesty International urges the Macedonian authorities to ensure that prompt, impartial and effective investigations are opened into any attacks on the lives or property of LGBTI individuals or organizations. Any alleged homophobic or transphobic hate motive should be thoroughly investigated and all those against whom sufficient admissible evidence of criminal wrongdoing exists should be brought to trial in fair proceedings.
The government should immediately take measures to amend anti-discrimination legislation so as to include sexual orientation and gender identity as specific grounds for discrimination. Further, in the absence of legislation prohibiting hate crime, the government should, without further delay and in consultation with LGBT organizations, introduce such legislation, specifically including hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as ethnicity, race, gender and other grounds recognized in international standards.
Finally, Amnesty International urges the President, the Minister and all other public officials and government representatives to condemn discrimination and violence against LGBTI people.
Training: ‘Strategic management of proceedings in which free legal assistance is approved’
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) in cooperation with the Macedonian Young Lawyers’ Association (MYLA) organized a training on the topic: ‘Strategic management of proceedings in which free legal assistance is approved’ from October 19 to 21, 2012 in Ohrid. The training was attended by representatives of authorized associations and part of the registered lawyers for free legal assistance who had the opportunity to acquire knowledge about the strategic management of proceedings, the meaning, the use and effects that can be achieved by strategic proceedings management. The participants did some practical work on identifying and developing cases for strategic management, and were guided by Darian Pavli, a lawyer from the Open Society Justice Initiative and Filip Medarski, a lawyer from Skopje. In addition, participants had the opportunity to meet and learn more about the proceedings before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as an effective tool for strategic management of legal proceedings.
GEM in Prilep
Witnessing a transition towards barbaric capitalism
The current political and economic developments, the local problems of citizens and the situation with civil liberties were the issues debated at the third consecutive debate of the citizens’ initiative ‘Citizens for European Macedonia’ (GEM) held on October 18 in Prilep.
Opening the debate with a lot of emotions, Roberto Belichanec stated that his birthplace had become an example of how the current government is recoloring the identity and history of the Macedonian people overnight, taking as an example the recoloring of the Prilep Ucastok, which as a symbol of fascist Bulgaria had the same color all over it. “To this day, all of these buildings in Bulgaria have retained their original color, as a symbol of fascism; it is only here that the Ucastok has been recolored. This recoloring is an example of everything that is currently happening to us. The authorities are refurbishing our history and identity” concluded Belichanec, adding that a good part of the people are now in a situation to beg for employment in political party headquarters, and they need help to get out of this situation.
First session of the budget forum in the municipality of Mogila
The first forum session of the budget forum in the municipality of Mogila was held on October 8 in the restaurant ‘Kolta’, during which mayor Slavko Velevski addressed sixty residents.
The residents of Mogila had the opportunity to be familiarized with the forum process and the features characteristic for the budget forum. After the structure of the forum was established and after dividing participants into a number of work tables, participants were familiarized with the activities for realization of the strategic development plan and the priorities for development of the municipality for 2012, and the priorities for development of the municipality in 2013 were also discussed.
The next forum session in Mogila will take place on October 22, 2012.
The Minister of labour and social policy is discriminating instead of protecting
The Coalition ‘Sexual and health rights of marginalized communities’, Foundation Open Society - Macedonia, the Macedonian Helsinki Committee, LGBT United and HOPS, at the joint press conference held on October 14 reacted to the several consecutive disturbing and discriminatory statements of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy - Spiro Ristovski. The common strategic goal of the organizations is to advocate for the integration of the socially marginalized groups, and this is the reason for their legitimate interest in opposing statements for homosexual people and couples.
The organizations disappointedly concluded that in the past few days, the ruling structure, in order to win over the electorate continues with its unscrupulous and undemocratic tendency of manipulating with populist arguments and mobilization of the classic prejudices and fears of the general population. The statements of Antonio Milososki from the election campaign in 2006, when VMRO assumed power, with which he divided the Macedonian society to healthy and ill, with the healthy segment of society being reserved for the heterosexual marital reproductive couple, these days were extended by the minister of labour and social policy, Spiro Ristovski. It is very disappointing when such statements come from the institution that should protect the people from discrimination, and more importantly, promote non-discrimination principles and values. It is also very disappointing that the ruling structure, the one which is obviously represented by the minister as a representative of all the citizens of the Republic of Macedoni, continues with its sensationalistic and undemocratic monologue regarding the issues of family, marriage, and finally, same-sex unions.
Comments of FOSM and MCET on the 2012 EC Progress Report on the Republic of Macedonia
This year, same as in the previous ones, Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) and the Macedonian Centre for European Training (MCET) prepared a comparative analysis of the progress reports on the Republic of Macedonia for the period 2009-2012 aiming to provide a better perception of the pace with which our country is approaching or moving away from the European Union (EU). This year, the comparative analysis was entitled ‘European pink clouds’ because when analyzing the 2012 report against the objectives of the Accession Partnership and the problems already noted in previous reports, we get a clearer picture of the true dynamics of our country's accession to the European Union, which is not good at all.
We can draw several general conclusions from the analysis:
1. The high-level accession dialogue (HLAD) managed to return European integration in the reform agenda of the Republic of Macedonia. We welcome the additional efforts of the European Commission (EC) focused on finding a solution to the name dispute with Greece in the hope that the process of European integration will be finally unblocked. However, the analysis of the ‘pink’ pages of, according to the Government, the most positive report so far, indicates something else - the name dispute is not the only problem standing in the way of Macedonia's EU integration. If we take a sober look at the details, we will certainly conclude that the return of the European agenda is more on a rhetorical and symbolic level (instead of mutual attacks, Gruevski and File write joint columns or the government is no longer promoting Euro-skepticism) than on a real and essential level (solving problems in the judiciary, tackling corruption and reducing unemployment and poverty). The detailed analysis shows that Macedonia has a serious problem with progress in the reforms.
Milcin: It is dangerous to be a minority of any kind in Macedonia today
Professor Vladimir Milcin, a prominent director whose plays have impressed audiences and critics around the world for decades, has been at the helm of the Foundation Open Society Macedonia (one of the largest NGOs in the country) for almost 20 years. This role, i.e. his political activity, and the critical observation of the system, society and government, in both the past single-party system and in the current one, is the reason for professor Milcin to be in frequent confrontation with the ruling structures, which have used numerous forms of pressure on him – from police monitoring, to public labeling, stigmatization and attempts to publicly discredit him. We discussed about the civic activism and active citizen participation, about the condition of the civil society sector, the influence of politics and how media is treating this social sphere, and about the situation with the human and minority rights in the country.
AKTIV: What is your assessment about the condition of the civil society sector today? Are CSOs performing their social role, or are the critics right when they accuse the civil society organizations for working in closed cabinets, working with a closed circle of people on trainings and seminars and not having direct contact with the situation on the field and the actual needs of the citizens?
Milcin: I'm not sure I understand what you mean by ‘the social role of civil society organizations.’ The role of associations is determined by their members, and the role of foundations is established by their executive boards. We can neither require nor expect the same approach and results from institutionalized organizations that are expertly and continuously monitoring the spending of public money, on one hand, and informal initiatives expressing disagreement with certain government actions. One does not exclude the other. And it doesn’t need to. Both are legitimate forms of action in civil society. Polycentricism and pluralism are essential features of the NGO sector. And the allegations you mention are mostly stated by Latas and some activists from the extreme Left. Allegedly, the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia is the culprit for the absence of an actual civil society sector in Macedonia! Of course, this allegation is not supported with a single real argument.
Let’s raise our voices against the ones threatening our freedoms
Citizens' initiative ‘Citizens for European Macedonia’ (GEM) organized a public debate ‘The spirit of freedom’ on October 10 with the citizens of Kriva Palanka to discuss the situation with civil liberties in Macedonia.
Roberto Belichanec opened the debate with a review of the draft-law on civil liability for insult and defamation, which according to him would further restrict the freedom of speech. According to Belicanec, the draft-law and its approval from the EU are a way for the government to make individuals voiceless. ‘When they take away the right of speech and opinion, and when you do not have any channels of communication, even to complain about something, then you cease to exist as an individual" Belichanec said.
Freedom cannot be endlessly enjoyed without constantly fighting for it, believes Zarko Trajanoski, especially in situations when there are forces that are really persistent to end it.
Referring to the current report of the European Commission and the upcoming local elections, Branko Geroski believes that the EU will firmly support the current prime minister until there are serious problems his rule, such as mass protests. According to Geroski, it will be crucial to have fair and democratic elections, and for the people to express their opinion on the fair elections and defeat Gruevski, because, according to Geroski, nobody from Brussels or Washington will not solve the local problems.
For Vladimir Milcin, the recent developments are causing shame, which is already equal to a revolution. According to Milcin, there are people who spit and insult only if they are hidden behind the anonymity and the crowd, and we must respond instead of being silent.
According to Mersel Biljali, the latest report of the European Commission is a gift to the citizens, and not the merit of the Government. He believes that the negotiations with the EU could have begun in 2006, but the provocations with antiquisation blocked the process. According to Biljali, all citizens feel the pressure from this government, and the best proof for this is that more than 60 thousand young people have left the country in the last ten years.
The citizens of Kriva Palanka expressed their disappointment with the current situation, the fear of the pressure from the local dignitaries, as well as the unenviable economic situation that compels a growing number of citizens to leave Kriva Palanka and the surrounding area.
GEM will organize several more public debates throughout the country in order to develop the democratic culture of dialogue and to promote the democratic values such as openness, criticism, engagement and civic activism.
The citizens’ initiative ‘Citizens for European Macedonia" organized the public debate ‘The spirit of freedom’ on October 4 with the citizens of Kavadarci, exchanging views and observations on civil liberties.
Starting the debate, Branko Geroski said that we live in an authoritarian, undemocratic and totalitarian society, and that the prerequisite for the way out of this situation is the development of the free spirit of the citizens of Macedonia. Referring to the current socio-political situation and the upcoming local elections, Geroski emphasized that all political parties must seek and offer practical solutions.
First joint forum session of the municipalities of Struga and Debarca
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) started the implementation of the new cycle of the Community Forums Program in the Struga and Debarca municipalities. The program is funded by the municipalities and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The first forum session in Struga held on September 27 was attended by 110 residents of the two municipalities. During the first session of the cycle of inter-municipal forums, the structure of the forum was established and thematically divided work desks were formed. The work desks will work on defining projects which will need to be elaborated by the end of the 5th forum session.
The next session of the inter-municipal forum will be held in late October in the village of Meseista, on the territory of the municipality of Debarca.
PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAM
Workshop – From community monitoring and applied budget analysis to improvement of the immunization of Roma children
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) is organizing a two-day workshop in partnership with the New York Public Health Network Program: ‘From community monitoring and applied budget analysis to improvement of the immunization of Roma children”. The event will be held on October 4-6, 2012 in the Millennium Hotel in Ohrid.
The training is designed for FOSM’s grantees working on projects in the area of health rights of the Roma and projects for monitoring in the Roma community.
The purpose of the planned workshop is to develop an integrated strategy for advocacy and an action plan, as well as to improve the practices related to monitoring in the community and the applied analysis of the budget for next year, which will be functional on both the local and national level.
The Law on free access to information is good, but not fully implemented
The Law on free access to information of public character is still not being implemented properly. Although six years have passed since its entry into force, citizens and institutions still have problems when they need to obtain information of public character.
These are the general conclusions in the analysis for the implementation of the Law, carried out by the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) and introduced on September 27, 2012, a day before the ‘International Day for Free Access to Information of Public Character’.
Presenting the findings from the analysis, Dance Danilovska stated that the law is good, but its application is problematic on multiple levels. ‘40 percent of the 732 submitted requests were appealed before the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Information of Public Character. In addition, up to half of the submitted appeals were due to the silence of the administration,’ said Danilovska.
It is noticeable from the submitted requests that the local government is less open than the central government. Out of 255 requests submitted to the local self-government units, 41.6 % of the cases were related to silence of the administration. In addition, information holders are trying to avoid disclosing information by providing general or vague answers. Such was the case with the ‘Commission for verification of facts’ with 119 from a total of 123 requests being appealed. The Commission responded vaguely or generally to the requests or recommended visiting its website, where the requested information cannot be found.
The analysis indicates that the independence of the Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Information of Public Character is threatened. ‘The Commission is in an unenviable position with an extremely modest budget, which has been decreased by 30 percent compared to 2007. Therefore, many of the planned activities for 2011 remained unrealized. There is also a personnel issue, there are still unfilled positions in its Secretariat, and the selection of two members of the Commission took more than a year’, says the analysis.
FOSM’s conclusion is that the law formally exists, but information holders are finding ways to circumvent and avoid providing information. Although an amendment to the Law was planned for September, representatives of FOSM’s law program believe that the law is good and should not be amended, and that more work needs to be done for its full implementation.
The analysis will be published in both Macedonian and English during the month of November, marking the 20th anniversary of FOSM.
ASSESSMENT OF THE HIGH LEVEL ACCESSION DIALOGUE
How was it so far, and how will it be?
Priority goals are not set ambitiously enough
On September 18, the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) and the Macedonian Centre for European Training (MCET) organized a debate at which the findings of the monitoring of the High level accession dialogue (HLAD) were presented through an analysis of the fulfillment of the objectives and measures of the Operational roadmap.
The general conclusion of the ten speakers from civil society organizations, who closely monitor the areas covered by the Operational roadmap, is that the measures and objectives contained in the roadmap are incomplete, not ambitious enough, and mainly on a technical level, do not offer actual solutions to key problems. It was also found that many of the problems in reality, which in turn are part of the five areas defined in the Operational roadmap (freedom of expression, rule of law, public administration, electoral law and market economy) are not at all included. NGOs agreed that there is a lack of essential inclusiveness of the process, i.e. only the civil society sector is involved in just two of the areas - freedom of expression and elections, and for the other three areas inclusion is just formal, i.e. on a level of formal meetings where they are informed about the achievements and progress in the implementation of the objectives and measures.
The Law Program of the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia held the second briefing on the topic of lustration on September 14 in order to inform journalists about the content of the answers for 238 submitted requests for free access to information of public character. The main focus of the research conducted by FOSM is the work of the Commission for verification of facts and its legal and practical capacities to implement the lustration process in accordance with the international standards for respecting human rights.
In July this year, FOSM sent a total of 238 requests for access to information of public character to the competent institutions in the process of implementation of lustration. Institutions submitted a response for 85 percent of the requests, 63 percent of which were appealed due to an inadequate response. The remaining 15 percent of the requests were ignored by the institutions. The Law on Lustration stipulates that the law itself would be implemented in the period up to the commencement of the implementation of the Law on free access to Information of public character, as the moment from which it is believed that the openness of institutions is guaranteed, but the total number of 69 percent appealed requests indicates that access to information is not being exercised.
Despite the fact that the Commission answered all of the questions, it actually repeated for 87 times that FOSM’s request for access to information of public character is in the form of a question that requires an answer, and the Commission for verification of facts of the Republic of Macedonia cannot subsume this request in any form stipulated in the Law. As for the remaining 36 requests, the Commission did not mind the form of the request, and in its response it refers us to its website - the link with the six-month reports of the Commission.
It is also worth mentioning that 8 requests have been forwarded by the Directorate for Security and Counter-Intelligence to the Commission, for which we have not received a response yet. Therefore, it is obvious that the main actor in the implementation of the Law on Lustration does not intend to inform the public about the way it leads this important process that should enable the further democratization of the Macedonian society.
Assessment of the high level accession dialogue: How was it so far, and how will it be?
The debate Assessment of the high-level accession dialogue: ‘How was it so far, and how will it be?’ will be organized by the Foundation Open Society Macedonia (FOSM) and the Macedonian Centre for European Training (MCET) on September 18, 2012, Tuesday, 11:00h, in the GEM club (Menada, Old Bazaar),
The debate will be presenting the findings of MCET from the monitoring of the creation and implementation of the high-level accession dialogue (HLAD) and the results of the survey on inclusiveness and importance of HLAD, conducted by MCET. This will be followed by presentations of representatives of relevant civil society organizations that closely monitor one or more of the priority areas covered by HLAD (media, rule of law, public administration, electoral reform, economy) and they will present their findings, experiences and ideas related to HLAD.
Panelists: Bojan Maricic (MCET) Roberto Belichanec (Media Development Center), Margarita Caca Nikolovska (Institute for Human Rights), Fani Karanfilova Panovska (Foundation Open Society - Macedonia), Ana Janevska (Transparency Macedonia) and Biljana Stojanovska (Institute for European Politics). Moderator: Andreja Stojkovski.
‘Shutka Roma rap’ at Womex on October 18
The Macedonian band ‘Shutka Roma rap’ will perform on October 18 before the musical elite of this year's edition of one of the world's most important music events ‘Womex (World Music Expo). Each edition of the event, which gathers in one place thousands of music professionals (journalists, festival organizers, music agents) is held in a different European metropolis. This year ‘Vomex’ will take place from October 18 to 20 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Rappers from ‘Shutka Roma rap’ accompanied by a live band will perform on the ‘Globalkan’ stage. They were selected as nine performers from more than 300 who applied. The idea behind ‘Womex’ is to enable musicians to perform before eminent representatives from the music scene and thus open up opportunities for engagements and contracts for the coming year. An additional success is that one of the songs of ‘Shutka Roma rap’ will be included in the prestigious compilation ‘Womeximizer’ containing songs from 15 to 20 of the most interesting performers at ‘Womex’.
Project started in 2010. Open Society Foundation - Europe Macedonia published komplicijata "I Šutka Tani Mo Than" (Shutka my birthplace). CD Suto Orizari found several rappers that deal with various topics of their daily life in the Skopje suburb. The album was well rated by the world music community, and therefore formed a band concert needs which entered four of rappers that were CD. They performed several renowned European festivals including "Ñèãåò" in Hungary and "Roskilde" in Denmark. But this year the band entered a new phase of his life and the band entered four new Roma rappers while the old crew remained only three. New album with this lineup is in its final stage, and there is already interest from discography Company "Piranha Music" from Berlin, Germany to issue CDs.
The project ‘Shutka Roma rap’ began in 2010 when, with the support of the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia, the compilation ‘I Šutka Tani mo Than’ was released. On this CD, several rappers from Shuto Orizari are covering various topics from their everyday lives in this Skopje suburb. The album was received quite well by the world music audience, hence a band was formed for live performances, consisting of four of the rappers from the CD. They performed at a number of renowned music events throughout Europe, such as Sziget in Hundary and Roskilde in Denmark. But this year the band entered a new phase and four new rappers joined the band, whereas only three rappers remained from the old team. The new album with this line-up is in its final stage, and there is already interest from the record company ‘Pirana music’ from Berlin, Germany, to release the album.
Comments on the Draft Law on Amending the Law on Police
In the absence of a public discussion in the process of preparing the Draft Law on Amending the Law on Police, today (12 September 2012) the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) sent comments on the draft-law to the President of the National Council for European Integration, Radmila Sekerinska, thereby using the unique opportunity for discussion about the significant changes made with this draft-law.
In 2008 and 2009, FOSM supported the process of adoption of the new Code of Criminal Procedure, in force since November 2010, in cooperation with the Association for Criminal Law and Criminology of Macedonia, the OSCE mission in Macedonia, OPDAT (Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training, The US Department of Justice) and the Ministry of Justice. In the two year period, more than 20 professional discussions were organized for each of the sub-sections covered by the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Considering that the adoption of the amendments to the Law on Police (the draft-law) is carried out mostly to comply with the Code of Criminal Procedure, FOSM believes that it is extremely important to keep the public debate spirit for the solutions contained in the draft-law, thus contributing to a higher degree of incorporation of the standards for human rights protection in the domestic legislation.
Despite the series of inconsistencies that FOSM believes are part of the draft-law, in particular in the provisions concerning deprivation of liberty, the comment sent to Sekerinska covers the collection, processing, analysis, evaluation, use, transfer and deletion of personal data, as well as the insufficient procedural guarantees of offenders who, in accordance with the law, can be deprived of their liberty.
More than 40 people participated in the gathering of new grantees in Mavrovo on September 6 and 7 supported by the USAID Civil Society Project. They met not only to learn about communication and advocacy strategies, reporting, and monitoring and evaluation, but also about what each of their organizations is working on.
The USAID Civil Society Project is supporting 23 projects under two types of grants: 1) support to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that act as democracy hubs in their communities, and 2) support to CSOs engaged in government oversight and research-based advocacy. The projects cover a wide range of issues, including: development and support of democratic processes at the local level; preparation of a citizens budget; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community rights; initiatives in rural areas; volunteer services; active citizenship; judicial independence; environmental protection; and more. (The complete list of all grantees can be found at the following link).
The USAID Civil Society Project will offer consultations and additional trainings for the grantees that will also be open to other CSOs, with the aim of strengthening the capacity of Macedonia’s civil society. The project is implemented by Foundation Open Society – Macedonia in partnership with four CSOs: Youth Educational Forum (YEF); Forum – Center for Strategic Research and Documentation (Forum-CSRD); Center for Civic Communications; and Reactor – Research in Action.
PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAM
Workshop - Using the media in advocating for changes aimed at improving the health of Roma
Foundation Open Society - Macedonia (FOSM) in partnership with the New York Public Health Network Program, is organizing a two-day workshop: Using the media in advocating for changes aimed at improving the health of Roma. The event will take place September 11-13, 2012, in the Hotel Metropol in Ohrid.
The training is intended for FOSM grantees working on projects in the area of health rights of the Roma and monitoring projects in the community. The purpose of the planned workshop is to strengthen the capacities of the NGOs, whose focus is the health of the Roma, to use the media as an advocacy tool for changes and improvement of the health of the Roma population in Macedonia.
Participants will be trained by Mary Joyce, consultant of the Media and Health Program (subprogram of the Public Health Programme of OSI, New York), and founder of the Meta-activism project.
The work of the authorized associations for free legal assistance supported by FOSM has been acknowledged by the Ministry of Justice.
Driven by the need for a more efficient application of the Law on free legal assistance, FOSM and the associations monitor its application from the beginning. As a result of the work, two reports were published in 2010 and 2011. Through their work, the authorized associations have directly identified key shortcomings and problems that emerged during the implementation of the Law on free legal assistance. They publicly indicated the omissions during the promotion of the annual reports and stressed the need for urgent amendments to the Law on free legal assistance.
The associations summarized the established omissions in the application of the Law on free legal assistance in the Public Policy Document entitled ‘How can the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia get a quality Law on free legal assistance?!’ which was submitted to the Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Justice acknowledged the work of the authorized associations and formally asked the Macedonian Young Lawyers’ Association - Skopje (MYLA) to nominate a member of the working group that was formed to amend the Law on free legal assistance. MYLA’s member in the working group will advocate for the improvement and expansion of opportunities for citizens to use this law, and will also strive to improve the position of the associations as providers of prior legal assistance and to facilitate the legal requirements for obtaining authorization.
The public policy document can be downloaded here.
USAID Civil Society Project
Awarded 23 Grants to Civil Society Organizations (CSOs)
In response to the first Request for Applications of the USAID Civil Society Project (CSP), a total of 175 applications were submitted by civil society organizations to the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM). Based on the available budget, 23 project proposals were selected for grants totalling $494,115 (the list of grantees is provided below).
These grants are made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. Selected projects will be implemented for a period of six to twelve months. FOSM will provide opportunities for networking and technical assistance to all grantees.