On 27 and 28 November, the conference entitled “e-Society: Open Institutions and Accountability” was held in the Holiday Inn Hotel as the closing event of the four-year project ACTION SEE (Accountability, Technology and Institutional Openness Network in the South East Europe region) funded by the European Union. The conference brought together over 250 representatives of institutions, civil society, media organizations, and individuals from the Western Balkans region.
The opening ceremony was addressed by Robert Popovski, Minister without portfolio in charge of Communication, Accountability and Transparency, Fani Karanfilova-Panovska, Executive Director of the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM), Nikola Bertolini, Head of the Sector for Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union in Skopje and Bardhyl Jashari, Executive Director of the Metamorphosis Foundation.
Bertolini emphasized that citizens do not receive the information they requested and what is normal in the EU regarding this process, is not normal there. Karanfilova Panovska demanded more transparency in the allocation of state funds to CSOs, and said that there is a lack of transparency and accountability in the decision-making process.
The recommendation of the panel “4 years of advocating for open institutions and transparency ” is that all countries in the region should provide access to information and should not hold a monopoly on it. Milena Gvozdenovic from the Center for Democratic Transition, which is part of the ACTION SEE regional project, said the results show that at the regional level Parliaments meet 65% of the openness criteria, the executive branch meets 49%, the local self-government 36%, and the courts meet 42% of the openness criteria.
On one of the parallel sessions, the legal compliance of GDPR and the protection of personal data in relation to the application of the Police Directive was discussed, through the experiences of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Republic of Serbia, processes and challenges in the harmonization of national legislation, as well as the importance of the Personal Data Protection Officer within law enforcement and national security institutions. Speakers at the panel were Jan Ellermann, Europol Personal Data Protection Specialist, Trpe Stojanovski, Professor at the Faculty of Security at “St. Kliment Ohridski” University, Igor Kuzevski, Personal Data Protection Expert, Dragana Stojkovic from the Office of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection from Serbia and Viktor Dimovski, Director of the National Security Agency, Republic of North Macedonia.
During the second day of the conference, the Government Transparency Strategy 2019 – 2021 was promoted. Metamorphosis Foundation and FOSM participated in the drafting of this Strategy.
Lidija Cvetanovic, from the Cabinet of the Minister without portfolio in charge of Communications, Accountability and Transparency, said that the Strategy is a product of the joint efforts of the government and the non-governmental sector which is a guarantee for high quality. Danče Danilovska Bajdevska from FOSM noted that the challenges such as unified access to documents and datasets, and timeliness in publishing public information remain as challenges.
At the panel discussion “Media and good governance (Combating misinformation)”, attended by Sead Dzigal of the International Balkan University, Vladimir Petreski, editor of Vistiminomer.mk and Marjan Zabrcanec, Special advisor for PR to the PM Zoran Zaev.
In his speech, Zabrchec exclusively revealed that a hybrid attack had been unveiled a few days earlier against the prime minister’s office, misusing the identity of young eco-activist Greta Thunberg.