“For a stronger voice of citizens: Support of the European Union (EU) to civil society of Serbia”

During the past decade, European Union supported 250 projects of various civil society organizations, as it was pointed out at a panel discussion “For a stronger voice of citizens: Support of the European Union (EU) to civil society of Serbia”, held at the stand of the EU Delegation to Serbia and EU Info Center at the International Book Fair in Belgrade. “In the past 15 years, European Union has provided 30 million euros for civil society organizations in Serbia. EU helped in two ways - by supporting the NGO sector and strengthening cooperation between the state and civil sector”, said programme manager of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Svetlana Djukic.

The Director of the Center for Cultural Decontamination which exists for 22 years, Borka Pavicevic, reminded that the Center’s projects supported by the EU promote critical thinking. “Creativity, skepticism, discussion, controversy - this is what the European Union helps us with, to be Europe”, concluded Pavicevic.

Programme manager of NGO Atina, Jelena Hrnjak, reminded attendees of the care of migrants in Serbia. “That is when we have realized the strength of our citizens in relation to the system which is slow to change. Three years ago, we predicted the situation with migrants and offered a solution to the state to take care of these people who are in Serbia”.

Programme director of “Transparency Serbia”, Nemanja Nenadic, pointed out that the benefits of projects are multiple, as they allow for long-term and comprehensive researches to be carried out. “Our organization offers specific advice and recommendations on how to change legislation. That is why we benefit from the EU, because state institutions do not want to implement some of these things, and through the EU we can impose them as a topic”.

The Government Office for Cooperation with Civil Society began working in 2011. Acting Director of the Office, Zarko Stepanovic, pointed out that the EU recognized the importance of the Office from the very beginning and supported the development of Strategy for Cooperation with Civil Society, which is to be adopted by the end of the year. “The Office gave an opportunity to civil society organizations to give proposals, and about 400 non-governmental organizations participated in the process of Strategy development through their suggestions”, said Stepanovic.

Currently, there are more than 27 thousand associations, foundations, and charities in Serbia.


For NGO Atina, text translated by Marija Pantelic

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