IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA at the Focus Group about the Cooperation between the Civil Society and Decision-makers

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PartnersSerbia organized an online focus group on March 29, 2023, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. about the cooperation between civil society organizations and the decision-makers with the aim to present and discuss preliminary research results on the subject.

The research and the focus group are part of the activities of the five-year project “Civil Society Resilience Strengthening Activity”, carried out with the support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) by the consortium of organizations headed by PartnersGlobal. The organization PartnersSerbia is a member of PartnersGlobal, which is devoted to the promotion of the rule of law, the development of civil society, and institutional building in Serbia and the region.

Blazo Nedic, a consultant on the project, facilitated the focus group, and six representatives of civil society organizations took part in it. He first presented the preliminary results of the research and then the preliminary conclusions and recommendations, after which he opened the discussion.

The research was done by questionnaires and interviews. A hundred and twenty-eight organizations dealing with different target groups from Serbia took part in it. Most organizations that participated in the research (91,4%) cooperated with public authorities. However, only half (50.8%) evaluate this cooperation as good, and a large percentage as predominantly and comprehensively unsatisfactory (39%).

Some preliminary conclusions the facilitator highlighted about the decision-makers were administrative silence, acceptance of only “gentle advocacy”, formal presence in cases of political risk, denying major topics, giving small amounts to support civil organizations, non-transparency, and others. Therefore, recommendations will be formulated in the direction of overcoming these conclusions.

The participants mainly agreed with the presented preliminary results, conclusions, and recommendations; some expressed their opinions and views that were not included in the presentation, such as the problem of giving up applications for public invitations by government bodies due to the financing of the so-called GONGO organizations.

On behalf of IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA, executive director Svjetlana Timotic took part in the focus group. She emphasized that due to the doubt that local, provincial, and national bodies finance the so-called GONGO organizations, IZ KRUGA VOJVODINA also often recedes from applying for their calls for funding. In addition, she pointed out that she considers a particularly significant aggravating factor in cooperation with decision-makers the insufficient account of the accessibility of spaces where meetings and events take place, as well as providing communication in accessible formats.

More focus groups with other civil society organizations will take place, and the results will be used for more precise formulation of research conclusions and recommendations for improving the cooperation of civil society organizations and decision-makers.

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