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Regional conference “Citizens on watch”

crtaThe regional conference “Citizens on watch,” organized by “CRTA”, was held on December 7th in Belgrade.

Do people monitor and control the work of state officials and institutions and do they have that possibility, were the questions at a roundtable entitled “alert the public – accountable politicians?”. The presenters at the roundtable were the commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection Rodoljub Sabic, the chairman of the Board of the Agency for the Fight against Corruption, Dr Zoran Stojiljkovic, creative director Nadezda Milenkovic and managing director of research at Ipsos Stratedžik Marketing Svetlana Logar. Mersad Avdic from the Centre of Civil Initiatives (BIH) and Natasha Seferovic from the Network for the organization of the NGO sector (Montenegro) presented their experiences in government monitoring and activating citizens. On behalf of the CRTA the round table discussion was moderated by the Director Vukosava Crnjanski – Sabovic.

The commissioner for information of public importance Rodoljub Sabic said that the most valuable result of the process that began by adopting the Law on access to information of public importance was that thousands of citizens in Serbia recognize the law as significant.

“The main thing is that many citizens insist on the right to know what government is doing and how the money is spent. If we compare the State and its citizens we do not have much reason to be dissatisfied with the citizens. To ensure residents being awake, the first assumption is the knowledge of facts, knowledge of the problem. We have supplied all the possible laws; signed international documents joined organizations, but it has no effect. We cannot expect results from fictional institutions. ”

President of the Board of the Agency for the Fight against Corruption Zoran Stojiljkovic said that the citizens have a great distrust in politicians.

“I fear that we all who sit here deal with a hard and uncertain job. Research has shown that there is a rift between political elites and citizens: 80 percent of citizens agree that if there was some mysterious way, they would replace all the politicians. I do not think that the white election papers will change anything. We need to go with active politics and by active politics I mean connecting the NGO sector and reviewing the electoral bids. We should ask the candidates for direct answers to concrete questions. The three most important issues for the citizens are: employment and life standard, safety and perspective, and the fight against corruption. Because they cannot answer those questions they are trying with what they can, for example, with the reduction in the number of delegates. ”

Nadezda Milenkovic, creative director, believes that citizens have fallen asleep, and that the task of the media and the NGOs is to wake them up.

“Although it is day, I will begin with the words of Milka Canic:” Good evening! “Outside it is a serious darkness, and the darkness can hide terrible things. We watched how citizens of the world are starting to wake up, the Arab Spring and the riots on Wallstreet. And we are quite exhausted. Since October the 5th the capacity is spent. Us citizens will need “safe houses” with these elites. “Research The director of Ipsos Marketing Stratedžik, Svetlana Logar, said that citizens do not trust the principles of democracy and market economy.

“Why people are not awake –well they need motivation. The main problem of the citizens is the question: “Why would I do it when it has no effect?​​”. That is, a lack of faith in the outcome of the engagement, with the result that people are losing confidence in democracy as a system of values. The research conducted in 2010 showed that 20 percent of people agree that democracy and the market economy is the best system yet. Also, 55-60 percent of young people would like to leave the country. The confidence in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia is equal to the confidence in NATO. The distrust of citizens in non-governmental organizations is dramatic. One step toward waking the public is to regain citizens’ trust in the NGOs. ”

The representatives of the organization Why not from BiH Darko and Boris Brkan, Elena Ignatova from Metamorphosis foundation from Macedonia, Aldo Merkoci, the representative of the Movement “MJAFT” from Albania and Dragan Koprivica from the CDT (Center for democratic tranzition) from Montenegro participated at the panel discussion “Elections and how to monitor them- The use of new technologies in the time of elections”

Boris Brkan briefed those present on the campaign of civil society, in particular on projects of the NGO “Why Not” at the previous election, he gave a detailed description of the applications Glasometar and Istinomjer who have made a great success in the last election campaign in 2010. Elena Ignatius spoke of activities aimed at implementing Istinomjer (Vistinomera) and Glasometra (Glasomera) in Macedonia in 2011 with the support of the NGO “Why not” and-CRTA, and about the goals and activities of the Foundation Metamorphosis. Aldo Merkoci presented Mjaft from Albania and numerous activities in the context of the elections in Macedonia, while Dragan Koprivica presented interesting and innovative projects concerning the use of mobile phones to monitor the elections, in which Montenegro was the first in the world.

The day before, organizations gathered in Belgrade were talking about the possibilities of working together, as well as the perspectives of using new technologies for monitoring the work of the authorities and civil society work on elections.