13. December. 2018. | 04:36

Civil sector in Kosovo, cooperation and chances

Cooperation between Serbian and Albanian NGOs in Kosovo is fairly good, but there is a huge space for improvement. This was, among other things, said at the Mitrovica Social Club organized in Pristina by the NGO "Aktiv" from North Mitrovica.



The Head of Aktiv`s office in Pristina, Boban Simic, warned that, if NGOs did not raise some issues and if there was no cooperation between Serbian and Albanian civil sectors in Kosovo, then it would be hard for us to expect some other forms of cooperation.

"Earlier, this cooperation was at a very low level because the Serbian organizations had a problem establishing cooperation with the NGOs in Pristina. The reason for this was the lack of common topics and interest before the beginning of the Brussels negotiations." - Simic explained.

Nowadays, in his opinion, we witness the situations in which Serbian and Albanian NGOs unite around some of the smallest common denominators.

"Cooperation is inevitable in situations in which the common interests are recognized. There is the Brussels agreement, the problems of young people that are common for both sides; human rights are universal and there are certainly points of contact of NGOs in Kosovo, "- Simić added.

He said that the technical capacity of the Serbian organizations was the reason why there had not been any cooperation before, because, as he explained, the technical capacity of Serbian NGOs was much lower than the capacity of Albanian civil society organizations.

"This means we can count on the fingers of one hand those NGOs that can cope with the burden of promoting the non-governmental sector in the segments in which they should represent the rights of communities. We live in times where the cooperation between civil society organizations is necessary"- said Simic.

He added that it was very important for that point of contact not only to be about the calls for proposals to donors, but rather a means of link between sectoral organizations, contributing to the rapprochement and equalization of attitudes on some issues.

The Director of the NGO "Forum for Development and Multiethnic Cooperation" Dejan Radivojević emphasized at the same event that the cooperation between Albanian and Serbian NGOs in Kosovo is relatively good and that it depended on many factors.

"The first factor is the political situation. Spheres of interest are also an important area. If the interests of certain organizations overlap, there may be cooperation between them"- said Radivojevic.

"The organizations are insufficiently proactive in finding common goals and endeavors aimed at joint projects. On the one hand, there are donors who impose development goals through their projects, programs and strategies. On the other hand, however, most organizations do not have enough capacity to conduct certain projects"- said Radivojevic.

He pointed to a lack of awareness in Kosovo on the fact that a joint civil sector could change certain things in a positive direction.

The Director of the "Balkan Policy Research Group" Naim Rasiti believes that it is necessary to develop sectoral cooperation between the civil society organizations in Kosovo. He said that there were ten NGOs in Kosovo that had a vision of how to finalize the Brussels Agreement.

He also stressed that the NGOs in Pristina started a petition regarding visa liberalization for Kosovo, but did not see any Serbian non-governmental organization supporting it.
"Perhaps we should make sure that Serbian NGOs are part of it. However, they themselves should see the general interest and get involved in the process" - says Rasiti.

In the debate organized within the project of the Center for Civic Energy supported by the Kosovo Foundation for an Open Society (KFOS), the panelists also expressed their views on how much Belgrade's and Pristina's policies and relations impact the work of the non-governmental sector.

They also discussed the issues of how much the association of NGOs could raise their capacities and strength, and what the attitude of central and local authorities towards non-governmental organizations is.