EU support for 20 new civil society projects within the M’BASE programme

“An active civil society is a key element of any democratic system, it gives the voice to citizens and creates the link between citizens and government institutions”, said Oana Cristina Popa, Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro, during the ceremony of signing contracts with organizations whose projects are funded by the European Union through the second call of the M’BASE programme organized by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) in cooperation with partners and associates.

The second of the five planned calls was launched on 5 November 2021, and it was accompanied by two info sessions dedicated to presenting the details of the call – in Nikšić and Pljevlja. By the deadline, on 24 December 2021, CCE received 86 project applications, mostly from organizations from the central part of Montenegro (61), then from the south (14) and from the north (11).

Oana Cristina Popa, Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro stressed that In difficult times like these, when there is once again war on European soil, your voice becomes even more important. You are the carriers of peace; you are the ones who bring people together, when politics divides them. I know this is a big responsibility, but I also know the strength and eagerness of the Montenegrin civil society. We count on you to continue to promote tolerance, peace and dialogue in these troublesome times.” She reminded of the developed cooperation of the EU with the civil sector in Montenegro and the growing financial support of the EU through pre-accession funds. “Through this grant scheme, we are supporting a great variety of civil society organizations all over the country, especially smaller ones, to help them grow and make a change in their communities. We are very committed to diversifying the organisations we support, the areas of action as well as the geographical spread. The projects will support actions in the fields of youth, culture, vulnerable groups, protection of the environment, just to mention a few”, she concluded, congratulating the organizations supported within this cycle.

Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director of the CCE, stated that 20 projects were supported in the total amount of EUR 598,605.41. “Total of 35 non-governmental organizations will be directly involved in the implementation of these projects, as lead applicants or partners, as well as 16 institutions as associates, and they will be implemented throughout Montenegro”, said Uljarević, announcing that a capacity building programme is prepared for the beneficiaries of this programme during March and April.

„Civil society in Montenegro has the great trust of citizens, but it is also burdened with unrealistic expectations. Many often expect us to resolve the unsolvable and to fight all battles. Civil society also proved tough in the complex socio-political context of Montenegro. But, besides the fact that we should continue to be the voice of many who are not able to defend some rights on their own, I hope that through these projects we will contribute that individual citizens’ voices are also heard and strengthened in every part of Montenegro“, stated Uljarević.

Jasmin Murić from CZIP underlined the importance of the M’BASE project, which through support for diverse and constructive ideas, predominantly local, opens the possibility for CSOs to contribute to social progress, but also to the fulfillment of obligations in the EU accession process. „From the point of view of an organisation that has a focus on environmental protection, I believe that reforms in this area are an unavoidable and very complex part of the European integration process. They also represent value for the citizens of our country, both in terms of strengthening health security and preserving natural beauty and spatial resources. The civil sector is a partner whose participation is crucial on the road to the EU, and some of the models of action are promoted in the calls within the M’BASE project“, he said.

This support allows us to implement key strategic activities of the Network for the upcoming period, but also to strengthen the capacity of employees, greater visibility of youth initiatives and to establish the conditions of networking of young people from different sectors and at different levels. We are very pleased that this is happening in the European Year of Youth, and that we will make a more effective contribution on involving young people in some policy-making processes, making young people’s voices is heard and prioritizing youth issues in public discourse,” said after the signing of the contract Miloš Marković, from the Youth Network whose project “Youth in the focus of society” was supported within this call.

„Most competitions are not designed to address serious social issues and address them, while the M’BASE project has the capacity to substantially strengthen, encourage and direct the sector towards active participation in monitoring and changing public policies. Through the project “I see an artist! I sense a better society”, we are launching a wider social dialogue that will activate various structures, including reluctant interlocutors, pointing out arguments, needs, and solutions. Our focus is to improve the position of young artists, through the articulation of their vision of social reality and vision of social and economic development, using innovative artistic expressions as their tool“, said Igor Rakčević, President of the Association of Fine Artists.

„The fate of the 19-year-old Sheila is just one example of the growing violence against women, and we believe that through the image of Sheila’s joy in life, on one hand, and ignorance of the dangers of those who were obliged to protect her, on the other hand, we can send a universal message about the need to change this concerning state. Our intention is to encourage the general and professional public to face the urgent need to face the problem of domestic and other violence through a documentary film about her. For an art studio that deals with education and guiding young people towards true values, this support is very important“, said Ivona Čović Jaćimović, director of the NGO Harlequin.

”It is common ground in Montenegro that the public sector serves as a reservoir for the employment of politically eligible and otherwise linked persons. However, so far there was no comprehensive efforts to map all the risks of undue political influence and corruption in employment in all segments of the public sector, at the level of the legal framework and in practice. That is why the opportunity we get is important to us, through the project “Neither the client, nor the boss! – For the integrity of employment in the public sector “, upgrading previous initiatives and include torn islands of the public sector, including public companies and agencies, in a debate on procedures and practices of employment and prevention of political clientelism and corruption in the public sector“, said Milena Muk from the Institute of Alternative.

”We want to focus on research on the quality of budget practices at a local level, through which we will analyze the process of creating, spending and reporting on municipal budgets, as the most important policy acts of local communities, on the examples of Bijelo Polje, Berane and Pljevlja. The goal of the project is to improve the quality of the budget process through monitoring and making recommendations by civil society, thus contributing to transparent, accountable, strategic and inclusive management of public money, which is one of the requirements of good governance on the road to the EU. The support within the M’BASE grants is an important incentive for us,” said Dražen Petrić from the NGO Forum for the Development of Democracy.

The themes of supported projects are diverse, and they address through specific interventions EU integration, youth, PWD rights, ecology and sustainable development, public administration reform, local self-government, corruption, media, science, culture, copyright, consumer rights, gender equality, etc. with pervasive capacity building of civil society.

The following projects were supported: Towards Socially Responsible Local Budgeting (NGO Forum for the Development of Democracy), Šejla – the Story of a Tragic Fate that Could Have Been Brevented (NGO Harlequin), STOP Sexism in Montenegro (Institute for Legal Studies – IPLS), Chapter 23 in my Community (Centre for Development of NGOs – CRNVO), ForUm for the Rights PWDs (Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro – UMHCG), Media for a Responsible Society (Media Association of South-East Europe), Your Right is Guaranteed: for More Effective Protection of Consumer Interests with a Strengthened Civil Sector (Center for Consumers Protection – CEZAP), Neither the Client nor the Boss! – For the Integrity of Employment in the Public Sector (Institute Alternative – IA), For a healthier health system! (The Center for Monitoring and Research – CEMI), Young people in the Focus of Society (The Youth Network of Montenegro), Support for a Participatory Approach in the Development of the Strategic Development Plan of the Municipality of Nikšić (NGO Association of Young Ecologists Nikšić), Science Caravan Towards the EU – Improving the Scientific Literacy of Young People in Montenegro (The Foundation for the Promotion of Science – PRONA), Žuka-Network of CSO Culture in Bar (NGO The Construction), Strong Civil Society in the Service of Active Citizens (Center for Democratic Transition – CDT), BRIGADE.ME – Digital Platform for a European Culture (NGO Art 365), I See an artist! I feel a better society (Association of Fine Artists of Montenegro – ULUCG), Together for a Cleaner and Clearer Vezišnica (NGO Better Life for a Countryside), Inclusive Creation of Local Public Policies and Services (NGO Parents), Music for Everyone! Strengthening the Capacity of CSOs in the Field of Copyright and Related Rights Protection in Montenegro (NGO Montenegrin Organization for Collective Management of Music Authors’ Rights – PAM CG), Active Youth for European Values (Sociological Center of Montenegro – SOCEN).

A detailed overview of supported projects will be published on the website of CCE and partner organizations in the next three days.

The programme CSOs in Montenegro – from basic services to policy shaping – M’BASE is implemented by the CCE, in partnership with the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), NGO Center for the Protection and Research of Birds (CZIP) and NGO Politikon Network (PIN) from Montenegro, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media and European Integration Office of the Government of Montenegro. The project is financed by the European Union and co-financed by the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media.

Monika Mrnjačević, Project associate