29. Jan 2015.

Cooperation With Civil Society Crucial for Local Development

In the hall "Americana" of the Youth Centre Belgrade, on 28th January 2015, a conference was held for the purpose of presenting results of the project "ReForce – Reinforcing the Role of Civil Society Organisations in Community Development and Public Administration Reform", thus a project was officially successfully completed. Conference, which was held under the title “Effective Impact of CSOs’ Projects Financed From Budgets of Units of Local Self-Governence”, had as well an aim to address the necessity of continuation of the process of establishing and strenghtenig cooperation of local CSOs with local authorities with an aim of establishing partnership approach in creating local policies and community development.

During the first part of the conference, which was moderated by Tamara Skrozza, a journalist from the weekly Vreme, attendees were addressed by Mr Zeljko Ozegovic, State Secretary in the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government of the Republic of Serbia, Ms Ivana Cirkovic, Director of the Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Mr Nikola Tarbuk, assistant to the Secretary-General for representation of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities. Their presentations were focused on the analysis of existing policies and practices related to cooperation between civil society and government, and all of them emphasized the importance of the role of citizens in decision-making processes and the importance of further development of a supportive  environment for their participation.

After the opening statements, Mirko Popovic, Coordinator of the Center for European Integration of the Belgrade Open School, presented the results of the project "ReForce" and Grant Support Scheme which was condacted within the project. Throughout the Grant Support Scheme was established  and  institutionalized cooperation between citizens' associations and local self-governments in 11 towns and municipalities in southern and southwestern Serbia. Those were municipalities of Bela Palanka, Bosilegrad, Vladicin Han, Vlasotince, Nova Varos, Raska, Surdulica, Trgoviste and Cajetina, and cities of Uzice and Vranje. In these 11 municipalities and cities 11 projects of citizens' associations were small grants awarded, but were as well co-financed by local self-governments. Implementation of projects clearly showed that it is possible to contribute to local development even with limited funds, as long as those funds are directed towards adressing real needs in community.

Afterwards, Ms Tijana Pajević, from the Office for Local Economic Development of the  Municipal Administration of the Municipality of Raska, shared, as an example of good practice, experience of cooperation of the Municipality of Raska with civil society, practice of transparent and accountable distribution of local funds, as well as the experience of the Municipality of Raska within the project "ReForce". She additionally highlighted future plans of the Municipality of Raska plans for further improvement of procedures for involvement of citizens in the decision-making process and improvement of transparency and accountability in the work of the Municipality.

Presentations were then followed with the discussion with the audience about the necessity of further strengthening of cooperation between civil society and local authorities and the necessity of conducting “ReForce” simmilar projects that will address capacity building of the civil society organizations and local self-governments.

The event was attended by 80 representatives of civil society organizations and local self-governments from all over Serbia.

Project “ReForce – Reinforcing the Role of Civil Society Organisations in Community Development and Public Administration Reform” was implemented in a 14-months period, from 28th of November 2013 to 28th January 2015, with the support of Delegation of the European Union in Serbia within “Civil Society Facility 2012” programme and Office for Cooperation with Civil Society of the Government of Republic of Serbia.