Second National Conference in Serbia titled: “Crisis management system in Serbia: the role of civil society organizations?”

Today, 30.06.2023, the second National Conference in Serbia “Crisis management system in Serbia: the role of civil society organizations?” was held at Hotel Mona Plaza in Belgrade. This conference was organized as part of the SMART Balkans project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The conference presented an opportunity for the discussion of current topics and networking among civil society organizations.

The conference was inaugurated with opening remarks by the State Secretary to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Eivind Vad Petersson. He highlighted the importance of civil society in a democratic system and emphasized its role in holding the governments accountable and protecting the interests of the people: “By promoting transparency, accountability, and good governance, civil society helps to prevent the abuse of power and corruption. Norway therefore takes pride in supporting civil society in Serbia and in the Western Balkans through the SMART Balkans program, which has a financial frame of about 16 million euros over a four-year period”.

The Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, Mr. Tomislav Žigmanov, emphasized the Government of the Republic of Serbia’s recognition of the crucial role that civil society plays in the development and functioning of democracy. He highlighted the vital function of civil society organizations in representing the immediate interests of citizens. In line with this understanding, the government actively involves these organizations in the formulation and execution of policies.: “This approach aims to foster a partnership between the authorities and CSOs. The final step in establishing such relations is the establishment of the Council for the creation of a stimulating environment for the development of civil society within the Government of the Republic of Serbia. This council serves as a new institutional mechanism, providing a permanent and institutional framework for dialogue between government institutions and CSOs. The council’s members are currently being elected in the ongoing election process involving CSOs”.

The Executive Directress of the Center for Research and Policy Making – CRPM informed that the SMART Balkans project is focused on enhancing the capabilities of civil society organizations with the objective of fostering networking and collaborative efforts to bring about more effective policy changes that address the concerns of the citizens. In the first year of implementation, the project allocated a total of NOK 9,253,307.39 in grants for Serbian organization, providing support to various initiatives. “The largest support provided so far has been directed towards services and initiatives that enable the improvement of mental health, prevention of violence, reintegration of victims of violence into society, and the participation of civil society organizations in service delivery, policy creation and implementation, as well as the monitoring of policy implementation. In this way, we respond to the needs of citizens and contribute to a more stable and secure Serbia and a stable and secure Balkans” – Risteska said.

Recent events in Serbia, including mass shootings at an elementary school in Belgrade and anonymous bomb threats in the region, have raised concerns among citizens regarding the system for risk management and protection of the well-being of children and the general public safety. In that direction, the focus of this year’s conference panel discussions was on the role of civil society organizations in responding to crisis situations and building resilient communities. The panel discussions engaged relevant stakeholders and mobilized them to come together and combine their resources for efficient crisis management. CSOs in the same time have been assessed as important actor with knowledge and expertise to play a pivotal role in crisis management. However, it is crucial for the state to create an enabling environment that facilitates collaboration and maximizes the impact of CSOs in society. SMART Balkans conference sought to explore strategies for strengthening these partnerships.

During the conference, National Intervention grants were awarded to 11 civil society organizations from Serbia, amounting to NOK 5,547,765.37. The awarded organizations will implement their projects over a period of approximately two years, tackling issues under the project’s main thematic areas, security and stability and good governance, including gender equality and women’s empowerment, countering violent extremism among youth, citizen participation and community development, media literacy, security sector reform and disaster risk reduction, as well as privacy protection and data security.


Organizations awarded with National Intervention grant are:

  • Association for Development of Creativity
  • Fenomena Association
  • ASTRA-Anti trafficking action
  • Slavko Curuvija Foundation
  • Center for Free Elections and Democracy – CeSID
  • Da se zna!
  • Association Uzice Center for Human Rights and Democracy
  • Civic Initiatives
  • National Youth Council of Serbia
  • Zaječar Initiative
  • Partners for Democratic Change Serbia (Partners Serbia)