Representatives of five Montenegrin civil society organizations, which focus on young people and whose projects are supported through the programme “CSOs in Montenegro – from basic services to policy formulation – M’BASE”, implemented by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) with partners, today finished their study visit to Brussels, held from 27 November to 1 December. On that occasion, they visited a series of European Union institutions and organizations to get first-hand knowledge about their work, as well as to get familiar with Brussels’ perspective on Montenegro, but also made contacts with actors from the EU.
The intensive programme began with a meeting with Ambassador Petar Marković, who is the Head of the Montenegrin Mission to the EU, followed by a visit to the European Economic and Social Committee and a conversation with David Hoić from the External Affairs Directorate. Representatives of CSOs also met with programme coordinators of the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), with whom they discussed concrete ways of support through funding programmes open to CSOs. Also, the group had a meeting with Ina Petrenko, Head of the sector for citizens and EU values in the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EECEA), Sanja Marinković, representative of the Task Force for Western Balkans in the European External Action Service (EEAS), as well as with the representatives of the Directorate-General for External Policy of the European Parliament led by Andre De Munter.
Considering the growing anti-LGBTIQ discourse in Montenegro, which in the form of radical and clerical narrative targets not only this group but also women and other marginalized groups, CSO representatives also met with advocacy advisor Belinda Dear from the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexuals, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA Europe).
And finally, CSO representatives met with the Training and Project Coordinator of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), Elena Gil, as well as Mark Schwartz, policy advisor in the field of democracy, rule of law and good governance in the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung office in Brussels.
“This visit was a concrete contribution to the development of our organization’s network of contacts and I am sure that it will open many doors for cooperation. Until now, we have not had the opportunity to become familiar with the work of EU institutions and organizations in this manner. Their experience and work can significantly contribute to the development and economic empowerment of young people in Montenegro, especially if we manage to move from this networking to the next steps and create partnerships with actors from the EU with quality initiatives”, said Uroš Bulatović from the Union of Young Entrepreneurs of Montenegro.
“Having the opportunity to talk with representatives of the EU institutions was of great importance both for me and for my future activism. I am sure that the advice we received, as well as the experiences we heard about, will contribute to the further development of our projects and work with young people”, added Nevena Jovanović from the Youth Network of Montenegro.
“This study visit was an excellent opportunity to directly familiarize with the process of functioning in the EU. The organized meetings were of great importance to present to the representatives of the relevant institutions the pressing problems faced by the LGBTIQ community in Montenegro, as well as the entire society. We also received good advice on how, as a civil society organization, we can further lobby for the improvement of policies important for the target groups we work with,” concluded Miloš Knežević from the LGBTIQ Association Queer Montenegro.
The youth delegation was composed of Miloš Knežević, Executive Director of the Montenegrin LGBTIQ Association Queer Montenegro, Minja Novaković, Program Associate of the drama studio Prazan prostor, Uroš Bulatović, Executive Director of the Union of Young Entrepreneurs of Montenegro, Nevena Jovanović, member of the Board of Directors of the Youth Network of Montenegro from Podgorica, and Miloš Perović, Executive Director of Alfa Center from Nikšić. The delegation was accompanied by a representative of the project team Željka Ćetković, Coordinator of the Active Citizenship programme in CCE.
The visit was organized within the programme CSOs in Montenegro – from basic services to policy formulation – M’BASE, implemented by the CCE in partnership with the German Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), the NGO Centre for the Protection and Research of birds of Montenegro (CPRB) and NGO Politikon network, in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of European Affairs of the Government of Montenegro. The project is financed by the European Union and co-financed by the Ministry of Public Administration.
Aldina Žudjelović, Programme Assistant