Centrul Diplomatic/Diplomatic Center

Centrul de Studii Politice si Diplomatie/ Center for Political Science and Diplomacy

UNDERSTANDING MACEDONIA – A SERIES BY Irina Simonovska – Spirkovska ( part II)

Macedonian Specifics of the Civil Society Development

Macedonian Political Researcher -Irina Simonovska – Spirkovska

Regarding the position of Republic ofMacedonia, one thing can be immediately seen; a small country and nation. The small countries and nations have the destiny for their survival and progress to be dependent on the global events and trends. Hence, they intensively feel the changes within the global human society, both on political and economy level. Resolving their internal problems, they always must keep themselves awake and in touch with the global changes, following the general progressive trends, predominantly taken by powerful countries.

Thus, even the process of modernization follows this pattern. Obviously, one of the characteristics of the processes that have marked the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty first century can be observed through the fact that the position of the small countries, the concept of their organizing of the commercial life, the efficiency of the economic system, political stability, social security, the material situation of citizens, the degree of social development throughout the whole country, is greatly determined by the ruling current global relations and the dominant part of various countries in them.[1]

            The dissolution of the communist/socialist model had different socio – political implications in different countries of Southeast, Eastern andCentral Europe. Its consequences varied greatly, dependant by many factors, beginning with different historical perspectives of the countries and (eventually) ending with the ultimate result of possible security or insecurity of citizens in the system. Thus, on one hand, progress, social and economic stability, employment, predictability of future, but on the other hand, war, poverty, famine, moral deterioration, social insecurity and total unpredictability of nearly every segment of the system.

 

The Macedonian Particularities of the Civil Development

There are few Macedonian (but also Balkan – andMacedonianot being part of them) specifics that are worth to mention:

A sharp ideological break with the leftovers from the communist/socialist past had taken place, inspired by the classic civil – societal concept, supported by the continuing aversion to the same; one can find similar views and manners of behavior when it comes to foreign organizations and various development agencies which were active in this respective domain – while at the same time, there was broader (and scientific) public opinion opted (and was convinced) for the (nearly) absolute usefulness of the latter, as a breath of fresh air, with capability not only to solve crucial social problems and underdevelopments, but also to bring benefit by transplanting (and more frequently) importing the Western experience into the East.[2] Furthermore, an atmosphere of distrust towards the capacity of state authorities to deal with the mentioned problems facing the Macedonian state, economically and politically, had been created.[3]

In terms of segmentary division, during the period of transition, large number of civil associations was established as a response to the rapid social changes and the great expansion of the concerns and needs of society.

 Regarding the domain, first (even before the transition), ecological organizations appeared (the end of the 80s), followed by youth organizations and humanitarian organizations (beginning of the 90s) and with further establishment and implementation of the principles for protection of the human rights – appeared great number of respective organizations. Afterwards, till present days, the structure was becoming more heterogeneous since there were organizations from every segment of society.[4]

Speaking of large civil organizations’ initiatives from abroad, it seems that they favored their own organizational structures instead of the already established, under the pretext that the latter are already outdated, communist, bureaucratic and inefficient forms of action, which in turn produced some problems in understanding the effect of the civilian system and confidence in the usefulness of the same, while at the same time they also contributed to modernization in the civil aspect, bringing in foreign expertise for approximation of basic liberal values and necessary assistance in achieving important goals, especially in the field of social justice and interethnic relations.

Together with the old subjects, the foreign subjects have worked on creation of additional auxiliary entities which played the role of intermediaries between the foreign and domestic factors – putting the latter in rather discriminative role.

Certain problems of non – continuity had existed, meaning of primary direct financial interest as a true motivation, meaning that the continuous and dedicated work as a security from foreign funds.[5]

Renaming certain already existent subjects of the civil society with new terminology had taken place (to avoid any similarities with the past one) eventually leading to confusion about their number: in this context, for example, it was confusing which part of civil initiatives are not NGO’s (because they had been presented exclusively as the main carriers of the civic modernization), so the insight into the real number of subjects in the wider civic system remained quite unclear.[6]

The institutional placement of the subjects partly coincided with the organizational framework of the foreign factor, meaning that the latter was defining the priorities in the favoring of certain branches at the expense of other: for example, the number of subjects that were dealing with personal and political rights was far greater than the number of the same – dealing with social and economic rights (they were not properly included because of the fact that the fall of the communist state couldn’t be achieved without privatization (primitive accumulation of capital) and free market. As a conclusion, the organizations and initiatives for women, youth sector and similar, were present only nominally.

A big part of the organizations inMacedoniawere (and still are) working on constantly improving the civic background for successful implementation of democratic principles in the interethnic sector within a new environment (with reference to the continuing process of decentralization, especially after the constitutional changes in 2001).

There had been a problem of limited self – regulation within the civil sector itself; lack of internal democracy in the organizations; existence of small number of “big” civil organizations with well developed internal structure.[7] According to more recent analysis, “…The strongest values are peace – non-violence and gender. The weakest value is transparency. Democracy is somewhere between and CSOs are on half way in practicing internal democracy…” The civil society has shown better in the promotion of democracy than practicing the same internally. Many of the organizations were founded by (charismatic) leaders. Some of them are failing to divide the leadership from the management and/or limit their powers and terms”.[8]

Few institutional innovations in the civil domain had taken place, such as an introduction of the practice of mandatory communication between civil society and the state and the inclusion of the same into the creation of certain policies[9], as well as the recent legal changes that facilitate the registration and financing of the entities in this sector.[10]

The civil sector is characterized by a high degree of representativeness of the social groups and good organized infrastructure for support, plus significant level of networking between the different organizations (but also indifferent relationships with other stakeholders in society, especially the business sector!) which reflects into dynamics in their communication, coordination and cooperation, which in long terms’ speaking, results in strengthening of the social capital. [11]

One of the very positive aspects is the economic potential of the civil initiatives through their role of employers, including in their activities – the economically active population and by that, contributing to the reduction of unemployment.[12]

There is clearly a difference between the transition in respect of civil society between Central and Eastern Europe. With exception of Slovenia(whose transitional model has more similar to the Central European model than to the Southeastern one) the trade unions and respective organizations are hardly organizationally represented. The only civil sector that has been really active is the sector for ethnic and minority rights, as we can see in the cases of Macedonia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovinaand Kosovo.[13]

Observing these positive and negative features of the civil society in Macedonia, the objective assessment mark is generally positive. Its top spots are promotion and practice of the positive values, thus creating the basis for its achievement and influence, while one of the weak spots is the view of the public opinion, displaying lack of confidence and public spirit, which had an adverse effect on the civil society image as a moderate in size and unbalanced in its structure.[14]

 

Macedonian Social Changes in Multicultural Context

As speaking of transition towards liberal – democratic civil society, it must be emphasized that the transition of the multiethnic societies, such as Macedonia, is often burdened with another layer: ethnic sentiment against the universal civil one, or put in other words, individuality of the sovereign citizen and his feelings toward his ethnic collective as a complementary part of his attitude towards the state. Ethnic pluralism is an important issue, which, roughly speaking, rebels against the state institution and thus, centralization. According to some authors, this social manifestation can impede the road to democracy – whether it had culminated in a war or conflict (such as in the case of Macedonia) or not. Thus the question, is existence of democracy of groups (organized on basis of different organizational principles) possible?[15]

Speaking of the Macedonian case, there are some authors who argue that in this respect, political transition in unitary civil state (regarding interethnic relations) is possible through the cohabitation of the two partners – civil society and state[16], only if the official state politics is efficient enough in solving problems on the political front. Then, the state centralization can play a crucial role in creating a policy of homogenization and intensification of contacts between cultures (where now civil society plays a crucial role), as demonstrated in the field of interethnic relations in Macedonia after crisis since 2001.[17]

Macedonia is a multi – ethnic, multilingual and multi confessional society within a small territory and population, imposing another “problem” that had waited long for before it was constitutionally and declaratively solved after the armed conflict 2001, concluded with the Framework Agreement giving wide scope of collective rights and promoting the principle of inclusiveness of minorities; its implementation is and will be a long – term project.

In this regard, the civil society is a basic condition and a “must” for every multicultural and multi confessional society – asMacedoniais, because it is a fundamental prerogative and major source of strength and civic identity of the primary social core of the country – the demos. Its essence lies in the fact that it is an ongoing and constant process of learning and analyzing beyond the differences, as well as building trust and tolerance between various social, to be more specific – ethnic groups. Through continuous communication, interaction and compromises there is a process of building own separate identity, but, shaped by a new layer whose core is the community of interests and common values (as proved through the Macedonian example in 2001 and the Framework Agreement).

 

* * *

 

The establishment of an open civil society in Macedonia turns out as one of the most important issues, or can be even considered as a basis (or even one of the initial triggers) in the process for the modernization of the country as a whole. The reorganization, though, as a process, could be a very slow one, and its benefits – could not visible for a very long time. Its primary meaning is raising the citizen (and his welfare) on the pedestal as an ultimate (passive) principle in society, but also as an active creator (and inspiration) for new social reorganization. The newly gained political, economical and normative legitimacy of civil segment gave it a new role and opportunity to action and affect almost every aspect of social life, transplanting and importing experiences from the West, but with necessary adjusting to the domestic characteristics and circumstances.

However, in the past, given the fact that ethnic identity among the various groups was quite accentuated in nearly every sphere of social life, this had a negative implication on the development of civil society and building common civil identity among citizens, which issue cannot be related only to transition, but is a never ending and constantly upgrading process.

Through continuous efforts for embracement and implementation of the multicultural model, Macedonia, as a state, but more as a society, in the last 8 – 9 years shows, how in real life, through the use of civil instruments, a process of building of liberal – democratic society can bridle the centrifugal tendencies in the society (in ethnic respect) and create a centripetal tendency for homogenizing the social structure.[18]

The above mentioned helped Macedonia to create a very positive image in the international community for choosing the right way to step out of backward traditionalism and head into new era of cosmopolitism.

 

 

 

RESUME

 

After gaining of independence, the actual process of modernization Macedonia witnessed numerous political, economic and social problems in general. The building of the civil sphere as a continuous process till present days has shown complete determination of the society to carry itself out of post communist – socialist sphere of organizing social relations, while displaying certain level of willingness to adapt to rapid structural changes and represent the country in a very positive light in front of the international community (which is moreover important for the integration in the EU). The civil society in Macedonia became a scene for expressing of sharing common values. Since Republic of Macedonia is a multiethnic, multilingual, multi confessional, and in cultural sense, plural society, this characteristics inevitably had certain implications (or even reflections) in the development of the civil society as an aspect of modernization. That feature can be seen in remodeling the social sphere in that context, before and after the crisis in 2001 and the respective changes of the constitutional and political system towards plural democracy with respective elements of communitarian approach. Creation of the civil multiculturalism is a continuing action of creating opportunities for practice and preservation of particularity within a group and further, its compliance with the wider system of common values and interests and pleads forward harmonization of common interests of all citizens of a community by bringing their special interests whose realization is guaranteed through highest forms of normative protection.

Regarding the institutional background, it must be concluded, as in elsewhere where communism / socialism was present as a dominant form of social relations, that in Macedonia, the success of the civil project is highly dependent on the relationship with the state and its institutions, as well as the international factor. Although the civil sphere is formally separated from the state sphere, this does not mean that no special relationship of cooperation takes place, especially given that the state is one of the participants in the process of creating policies that support joint civil identity and cultural distinctiveness. When it comes to the international factor, its presence and significance is greatest in the harmonization and approximation of the liberal – democratic values in the way of the country’s aspirations towardsEuropeand European Union as one of the final road at the end of the transition.

 

 

Selected bibliography:

 

  • Frchkoski, Ljubomir, Model of the multiethnic relations inMacedonia, Krug,Skopje, 1998;

  • Kacarska, Simonida, Civil organizations in theRepublicofMacedonia, a Connection Between the Public and the State or an Isolated Entity? Analysis of the period 1990 – 2007, MCMS, Center for Regional Research and Cooperation,Skopje, 2007;

  • Medrano, Juan M., Some Thematic and Strategic Priorities for Developing Research on Multi – Ethnic and Multi – Cultural Societies, Discussion Paper, MOST, 1996;

  • Pavlovic, Vukashin, The Suppressed Civil Society, Article in the Publication: Civil Society in the Countries in Transition, Comparative Analysis and Practice,Subotica, 1999;

  • Pechijareski, Ljupco; Nikoloski, Dimitar; Dimeski, Stevcho, Macedonian Citizens at the End of the Twentieth and the Beginning of the Twenty- First Century, Metaphore, Prilep, Macedonia, 2002;

  • Trajkovski, Ilo, The Politics of the Post – Communist Civil Society, Article in the Bulletin: Development of the Political and Legal System of theRepublicofMacedonia, University “St. Cyril and Methodius”, Law Faculty,Skopje, 2000;

  • Conference “Strengthening the triangle CSOs-National Governments-European Commission” Reinforcing the Europe-wide Civil Society and Building Partnerships”, Prepared by Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, Zadar, Croatia, 19-20 October 2009;

  • ”National Human DevelopmentReport,Macedonia, 1999 – Civil Society in Transition, UNDP (Skopje), Ministry of Development,Skopje, 1999;

    • RepublicofMacedonia(Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) Country Analysis, Forum Syd, 2007;
    • Strategy for cooperation of the Government with the civil sector (With Action Implementation Plan 2007 – 2011), General Secretariat of the Government of theRepublicofMacedonia,Skopje, 2007.

[1]Pechijareski, Ljupco; Nikoloski, Dimitar; Dimeski, Stevcho, Macedonian Citizens at the End of the Twentieth and the Beginning of the Twenty- First Century, Metaphore, Prilep, Macedonia, 2002, p.15.

[2] The analysis of the relationship between the civil organizations and public was addressing two key factors: the influence of communism and disappointment with the transition. The combination of these factors complicates the formation of organic connection between him and the wide public. In accordance with the abovementioned, when talking about public participation in, the formal structure is present, but lacking the substantial aspect of the civic participation. The case ofMacedonia fits the findings of the theoretical literature on transition, whereby the development of civil activism is one of the hardest tasks of the process democratization. InMacedonia, an additional contextual element represents a disappointment with the transition and the constant postponement of the benefits of this process. Reference: Kacarska, Simonida, Civil organizations in theRepublic ofMacedonia, a Connection Between the Public and the State or an Isolated Entity? Analysis of the period 1990 – 2007, MCMS, Center for Regional Research and Cooperation,Skopje, 2007.

[4] Strategy for Cooperation of the Government With the Civil Sector (Action Implementation Plan 2007 – 2011), General Secretariat of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, 2007.

[5] Civil society organizations remain heavily dependent on foreign funding. Since 2005 whenMacedonia became an EU candidate country focus of the international donors shifted to other regions that led to their withdrawing. As a result EU funding (mostly Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance) became main interest for CSOs. But there are also several concerns related to the capacity of CSO to fulfill the requirements of EC, in particular high annual budget of the organization, co-financing or complicate application procedures. Consequently, only limited number of CSOs can participate in the process of application for projects of tenders. Taken from: Conference “Strengthening the triangle CSOs-National Governments-European Commission” Reinforcing the Europe-wide Civil Society and Building Partnerships”, Prepared by Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, Zadar, Croatia, 19-20 October 2009.

[6] Without having an adequate understanding of the meaning of this imported “symbol,” (NGO), and its place in the concept of civil society, the total number of CAOs was reduced to approximately 600 NGOs. By doing so, more than 4,000 registered and active CAOs were excluded from the “actual civil society.”National Human DevelopmentReport,Macedonia, 1999 – Civil Society in Transition, UNDP (Skopje), Ministry of Development,Skopje, 1999.

[7] Strategy for cooperation of the Government with the civil sector (With Action Implementation Plan 2007 – 2011), General Secretariat of the Government of theRepublic ofMacedonia,Skopje, 2007.

[8]Republic ofMacedonia (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) Country Analysis, Forum Syd, 2007.

[9] The Strategy for Cooperation of the Government with the Civil Society (January, 2007) provides a base for setting structures and process for civil dialogue. In the frames of activities to achieve the 2nd Strategy goal “Participation of the Civil Sector in the Decision-Making Process” a change in the Rules of Procedure of the Government were adopted in March 2008. The changes were made in order to enable the access to the draft laws on the web sites of the Ministries drafting the laws. The Rules of Procedures stipulates “every interested party can submit opinion, remarks and proposals to the electronic registry regarding the published proposals for a novelty is the obligation of the relevant ministries to prepare report on the received opinions, stating the reasons why the remarks and proposals were not accepted, which should be published on the web site of the relevant ministry and electronic regulation registry1. For example, proposals have been published by the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Transport and Communications and Ministry of Health. Taken from: Progress Report on the Implementation of the Strategy for Cooperation of the Government with the Civil Sector (2007 – 2011) for the period January 2007 – December 2008. Source: Conference “Strengthening the triangle CSOs-National Governments-European Commission” Reinforcing the Europe-wide Civil Society and Building Partnerships”, Prepared by Macedonian Center for International Cooperation, Zadar, Croatia, 19-20 October 2009.

[10] Based on comparative analysis and overview of the financial support to CSOs by the state made in 2007, information with draft measures was prepared to be adopted by the Government of theRepublic ofMacedonia. After the consultations with the ministries, only the Code of Good Practices for Funding of Citizens’ Associations and Foundations from the Budget of theRepublic ofMacedonia was adopted. The Code is based on the provisions stipulated in the draft guidelines. This activity has contributed for improving the criteria for allocation of funding, but not the amount of the funds allocated from the budget. Furthermore, most of the funding (particularly the funds allocated from the games of chance) are reserved for an exclusive number of organizations. Although the open call for funding of citizens associations and foundations from the budget in 2008 was published on time and in accordance with the provisions suggested in the Code, the further monitoring of the recommendations was missing, particularly in terms of respecting the deadlines. Ibidem.

[11] Source: Index of Civil Society, CIVICUS, 2005, Taken from: Strategy for cooperation of the Government with the civil sector (With Action Implementation Plan 2007 – 2011), General Secretariat of the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, 2007.

[12] Ibid.

[13] For further references, see: Trajkovski, Ilo, The Politics of the Post – Communist Civil Society, Article in the Bulletin: Development of the Political and Legal System of theRepublic ofMacedonia, University “St. Cyril and Methodius”, Law Faculty,Skopje, 2000, p.208.

[14] Ibid.

[15]  There are theories (R.Dahl) which suppose that the social organism as a whole is divided into many micro systems forming their “micro – elites” who presumably have their internal organizational principles. Furthermore, that “correlation” of that micro – elites creates equilibrium on the global political spot for making decision. But, enev in that scheme, there are key “value and procedural verticals” and direct connections between the citizens and the central institutions of the system. Reference: Frchkoski, Ljubomir, Model of the multiethnic relations inMacedonia, Krug,Skopje, 1998, p.17.

[16] The autonomy of civil society from the state and politics is perhaps one of its main differentiae specificae. Of course, this autonomy cannot be absolute, and it is precisely here that perhaps the greatest theoretical and practical difficulties are concentrated concerning identification, examination and understanding of civil society. The autonomy of civil society refers to the relatively free social space for the self – regulation of certain interests and needs (economic, cultural, religious, social, charity, educational etc.). If the state doesn’t recognize or threatens the autonomy of this space, i.e. if it curtails the space for civil society and wants to subordinate it to the logic of the state and politics – then, in the long run, it acts against itself and its own stability. Reference: Pavlovic, Vukashin, The Suppressed Civil Society, Article in the Publication: Civil Society in the Countries in Transition, Comparative Analysis and Practice,Subotica, 1999, p.98.


[18] The Ohrid Framework Agreement and later, the constitutional changes transformed the majority democracy model (which ensured the monopoly of the majority), and was ‘’corrected’’ by the elements of consociative and plural democracy, which on the other hand enables balance of power and influence between the majority and minority communities, when it comes about the positions and interests of main importance for keeping and developing the identity of the later.

February 2, 2012 - Posted by | Foreign policy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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