BELGRADE – The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade and The Balkan Trust for Democracy of The German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF-BTD) continue supporting European integration and reform processes in the Western Balkan countries.
With the intention of helping the Western Balkans to become a zone of stability and security through the implementation of reforms within the EU integration process, with an emphasis on the rule of law and economic development, civil society has been recognized as a significant driver and promoter of reform processes through the project “Strengthening EU integration in North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia”.
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro Jørn Gjelstad pointed out in an interview for the European Western Balkans that cooperation with civil society in these countries stands out as a priority for the Embassy.
“The CSO sector is important to any country. Without the active engagement of the civil society and their organizations, the necessary consensus and trust for rational and inclusive governance would be more difficult to achieve. The CSOs should be encouraged to advocate views that inform and shape the public debate,” Gjelstad said adding that mutual respect and professional connections should, therefore, be developed between CSOs and the authorities, provided that the roles are well defined and the relationship transparent.
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Serbia, North Macedonia and Montenegro underlined that in terms of effective contribution to the process of democratization and EU integration in the three countries, civil society is doing the most important contribution.
“And this is why Norway is actively supporting a wide range of projects carried out by CSOs in all the three countries through the Balkan Trust for Democracy. These projects are all specifically designed to expand democratisation, increase transparency and to improve the quality of life at the local level,” Gjelstad highlighted.
Support is provided for almost one-third of the areas that need to be reformed in order for these countries to become members of the European Union.
The project envisages support for activities stemming from the most important negotiating chapters – reforming the rule of law and judiciary (Chapter 23), creating the area of justice, freedom and security (Chapter 24), as well as reforming public procurement (Chapter 5), competition policy (Chapter 8), information society and media (Chapter 10), energy (Chapter 15), environmental protection (Chapter 27), common foreign and security policy (Chapter 31) and financial controls (Chapter 32).
Support is divided into three groups, depending on the type of activities and the actors implementing them i.e. whether they are individual CSO or coalitions/networks of organizations.
Project proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis. More details about the terms of the Project can be found HERE.