The National Conference within the project SMART Balkans – Civil Society for Shared Society in the Western Balkans was held on 22.05.2022 in the hotel Double Tree by Hilton. It was attended by more than 60 representatives from CSOs, institutions, and citizens from N. Macedonia and 10 panelists. In addition, two very productive panel sessions took place within the conference themed: Perspective of security and stability in the Western Balkans Region and Good Governance and EU integration in the WB Region: situation and role of CSOs.
Ms. Marija Risteska, Executive Directress of the Center for Research and Policy Making, opened the National Conference and, in the opening speech, she emphasized that the civil society and the media from the region need support that will enable them to be sustainable, objective, and independent, the SMART Balkans program meets this need and aims to build their capacities.
The Ambassador of Norway in Republic of Serbia, Montenegro and N. Macedonia H.E. Jorn Gjelstad, further stated “The civil society is one of our most trusted partners, and I am happy to inform you that today we are launching our new financing facility for the next four years, until the end of 2025. The Norwegian Government has set aside 17 million Euros for this programme alone, making it one of the largest programmes of Norway in this region. “Governance” and “Security and Stability” stand out as Norway’s strategic priorities in N. Macedonia. To be more concrete, we want to contribute to strengthening participatory democracies and Euro-Atlantic integration by empowering civil society to play a stronger and more active role in creating peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development. “
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to strengthening participatory democracies and Euro Atlantic integrations in the Western Balkans by empowering civil society organizations and CSO networks for stronger and active role in creating peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia.
The project’s primary focus is a distribution of more than 450 grants, in 6 countries, particularly more than 150 grants in N. Macedonia, for four years and capacity building of CSOs.
The Project SMART Balkans – Civil Society for Shared Society in the Western Balkans started with the implementation on 1.1.2022 and is fully funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway. The four-year project is one of Norway’s most extensive programs in the region of over EUR 17 million and is implemented by a consortium of three organizations from the region: Center for Civil Society Promotion (CPCD) from BIH, in cooperation with partner organizations Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM) form N. Macedonia and Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) from Albania.