An important initiative of a group of civil society organizations realized
Macedonian Civic Platform Established
The platform has a pluralistic, various, non-religious, non-governmental and non-party concept
Gramoz Shabani and Katerina Bogoeva
The Macedonian Civic Platform was established on 16 March 2004 in Skopje. The Macedonian Civic Platform is initiated by a group of civic organizations dedicated to the process of building the civil society in the Republic of Macedonia. The purpose of establishing such a platform is to relate the civic organizations in a democratic exchange of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and mutual cooperation for an efficient action directed towards accomplishing visible results in the society.
The Macedonian Civic Platform has pluralistic, heterogeneous, non-religious, non-governmental and non-party context, which relates the civic organizations involved in concrete activities of local, national and international level in a decentralized way.
The legitimacy of the Macedonian Civic Platform will be a result of its capability to strengthen the civil society (the civic sector), to implant it well and provide organization and constancy. The Macedonian Civic Platform gathers and mutually relates the civic organizations (and other factors in the civil society n Macedonia) and it has no intention to be a body that will exclusively represent the Macedonian civil society.
As an informal organization, the platform is open for all civil society organizations in the country.
From the very beginning of the realization of the idea, its initiators have expressed their realizations and visions for the future. Kelmend Zejazi - LGRP- USAID, considers the initiative a critical point of the civic sector's maturity. "Another level of mutual cooperation and coordination will be accomplished. I have no doubts that there will be a more coordinate setting of goals and work priorities".
The Executive Director of the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation, Saso Klekovski, who presented the charter of principles at the opening day, referring back to the certain moments in the past, reminded that in 1991 Macedonia faced the great challenge of walking along the independence road and construction of a democratic society.
"At those times, that road was considerably supported and easier to walk due to the great cooperation and support that the NGOs gave to these activities. The Peaceful Civic Initiatives Board, an informal group of the then organizations, was giving a considerable support. When that process came to its end, the initiative stopped. Ten years later, we are facing another moment of great significance to Macedonia: accomplishing European standards in a democratic, political, cultural and social sense. This is a moment when the goal cannot be accomplished with isolated activities of one or another factor, but it is necessary that we all find chances to contribute towards the realization of these goals. The awareness of the need for mobilizing the civil society has been growing within us. And that awareness was not, conditionally said, caused or turned into a problem. There is a great accordance on a level of vision what kind of society we want in Macedonia. The process of adjusting how we can contribute towards the mobilization of that vision together was a hard one. The dilemmas regarding that issue owe to the previous experiences, to the forced coordination during the communist rule, but also to the fact that in the last ten years, the development of the civic sector in Macedonia was based upon the foreign financial support, which has very often led us in a competitive, not cooperative position. Therefore, besides the accordance on sharing the vision for Macedonia, we still have the main challenge for changing our relationships from competitive to coordinative ahead us. Only together can we reach a level of mobilization of the civil society and contribute towards the vision for Macedonia. We spent enough time on debating what we don't want to become, we don't want to build obligatory umbrellas that will have exclusive positions and performance. So, the centralization and the exclusiveness were two major things that in the discussions on our first two meetings were marked as things that are not part of the civil society. The Macedonian Civic Platform should present an open space for thinking, discussions, formulation of proposals, exchange of experiences, thus contributing to the process of building the civil society. That space is open for everyone. The platform is pluralistic, non-governmental, non-religious and non-party and it relates the civil society organizations in a decentralised manner, on local, national and international level. The legitimacy and the credibility of the civic sector are built upon results, and not mass membership or voting, that is elections. We cannot accept the principles of the organization that are typical for the governmental sector. It is only on the basis of results, that we can gain credibility".
Speaking of the need for establishing a civic platform in this period of the civil society's development, Jasminka Friscik, programme manager of the Association for Emancipation, Solidarity and Women Equality in the Republic of Macedonia emphasized among other things that: "Leaving one and entering a new decade of the civil organizations' existence in Macedonia, the need for establishing such a platform was more than evident. Several factors called for and contributed towards establishing the platform, but primarily, it was the built awareness for the necessary cooperation and support and the unpredictable future ahead of us. Namely, for years now, the civil society organizations in Macedonia were labeled as organizations that once being inside the circle of mutual competition and prestige, they could not realize the needs for coordination and mutual support. That weak was the most commonly described weakness and obstacle, both by the government institutions that supposed to be our allies on the road for improving the citizens position in the country and changing the overall conditions, and by the citizens, whose well-being we have all worked for. The positive thing is that from this phase of development we all came out with a conclusion, which is the basic premise for establishing this platform - it is the fact that the mutual coordination and support can make our future efforts more efficient and more appropriate. On the other hand, in the near future we are going to be faced with a tempting period when separating from the international sources of financing, we will "have to" find ways of surviving and continuing further. The Macedonian Civic Platform can contribute towards building the so necessary common identity of the civil society organizations that will show to the other relevant actors toughness and unity in its action. Thus, the so far activities taken by the civil society organizations separately will become even more efficient and contribute towards more significant social changes".
The Centre for Civic Initiative from Prilep is another organization that takes part in the Civic Platform of Macedonia and its representative, Igor Tasevski thinks that in its original idea, the platform is dedicated to the promotion of the global issues and interests for the Macedonian citizens. "I believe", he says, "that with this platform they will be directed towards citizens' needs more, and that what makes this platform and the principles upon which it is founded satisfactory. There are no doubts that it will grow into a sustainable Platform that will support our long-term goals and visions. Now it is up to us, its members and those that will join in future to put our strengths and efforts together and contribute towards its sustainability. In times when the whole society and the social living face crisis, when there is a lack of ideas and initiatives, and the opinion for the non-governmental organizations, regardless of their profile is becoming more negative, a need was felt for strengthening the sector. The strengthening and the influence of the civic sector and its actors was the foundation for a group of civil society organizations and individuals to initiate the establishment of a civic platform in July 2003. The idea was this Platform to increase the capacity of the civic sector and the capability for its mobilization, based on the principles of openness, discussion, action, pluralism and objectivity. Facing the need for relating the civil society organizations in Macedonia in a joint action for accomplishing evident results in the society, the Centre for Civic Initiative supported this idea and worked on its promotion. Seen from a distance, when this idea was just beginning to materialize, the present situation with the Platform can only encourage us, since it is built upon solid basis. Simply said, the idea evolved and now we have a platform based upon principles that define it as an open space for thinking, intending not to be an exclusive body that will represent the Macedonian civil society, but a body that will increase the capacity of the civic sector and the capability for mobilization of the civil society. The Platform will have a bright future if the intention of all those who join it is to contribute to the development of the civil society, and not only to become members of another platform, network, coalition or so".
The Macedonian Civic Platform has its own regular and occasional bodies.
Its regular bodies are: The Council, the Committee and the Secretariat.
The Council is a regular body that has a leading role in the process of defining the principles, strategic directions and the basic principles of the Macedonian Civic Platform. All organizations that attended the establishing committee and expressed their will to be involved the Civic Platform are members of the Council.
The Committee consists of 11 organizations and three individual members who perform an executive role in the organization of the Civic Platform.
The Secretariat was established as a support to the Macedonian Civic Platform and its regular and occasional bodies. Until the next meeting of the Council, it will be located at the Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation.
The Macedonian Civic Platform is open for all civic organizations in the Republic of Macedonia. Besides the basic criteria for membership (a form of an organization, results, resources, internal organizational structure, relationships with other actors, reporting and transparency), the mechanism for accession foresees filling in an application and submitting the necessary documentation to the Committee. On Committee's recommendation, the Council makes the final decision for accession of new members.
The minimum financial assets for the functioning of the Macedonian Civic Platform will be provided by the members by paying an annual fee.
The working programme of the Macedonian Civic Platform will be determined additionally.