50th issue and 5th year of Civic World
In front of you is the 50th issue in the 5th year of Civic World. The first issue was published in January 2001. Civic World was preceded by the NGO Newsletter from 1996.
The 50th issue in the 5th year of Civic World, besides the celebration for its marking, is a good reason to reflect upon and assess the past. The first step is a glance on the expectations. In the introduction to the first issue I asked the question: Why “Civic World?”
Civic World should contribute to the development of the civil society. Then and now, in my opinion, the reference point is the problem stated in Why NGO-ists, and not materialists, surrealists or defeatists”, by Zoran Kostov in the NGO Newsletter. The civil society is not rooted enough, even in the social elites, and it is more a reflection of individuals’ enthusiasm or copying the European standards rather than citizens’ interest, and, it is not accepted by the state as a social partner. Some of the alleviating circumstances were lack of tradition and the existential problems.
Even today, we can find arguments for both pessimism and optimism. Only every third citizen is socially active in any form of civic associating. And, while the civil society is rooting itself into the urban environment (about 42% of all organizations in Skopje, which include 24% of the population), it is almost non-existent in the rural areas (about 6% of the organizations are located in the rural areas, where 40% of the population is present). More and more organizations are becoming real movements, mostly the women organizations and the organizations of people with special needs. It is not by accident that most of the winners of the Award for Civil Society and Democracy originate from these groups. However, besides them, the civic self-organizing is becoming acceptable with groups where it used to be unimaginable, for example, with the market-traders (the association of market-traders). In this respect, we can also mention the first successful lobbying for changes in the Laws.
Civic World supported the process of rooting the civil society in Macedonia and contributed to the changes in the understanding, spreading and deepening the concept of civil society. Now we are faced with the challenge to spread it outside Skopje and the urban regions. We are faced with the challenge of cooperation, but also calling for accountability on the part of the country and the business sector.
Civic World has placed its own more operative goals: better access outside the management of the civil society organization, being more reader-friendly oriented and have on-time information. I personally think we accomplished these goals. We have introduced several changes, such as new contents which illustrate new policies. For example, we introduced the columns Balkan Express, Europe and World as a reflection of the opening of the Macedonian civil sector. We improved the format and we started printing in colour, which only confirms the fact that Civic World is a reflection on the power for learning.
Since the Civic World is designed for the citizens, in the months that follow, we will do some research into citizens opinions on it. The citizens’ experiences and opinions will help us set the directions for the next 50 issues and the next 5 years.