Serbia: Relations between state, NGOs should be institutionalised

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Belgrade, Oct 29, 2008 - Serbian Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government Milan Markovic said today that the relation between the state and NGOs should be institutionalised and proposed setting up an office within the government to deal with this.

At a meeting themed "Strategic Guidelines and Institutional Cooperation between State and Civil Sector" held at the Sava Centre, Markovic said that the Law on associations, currently undergoing parliamentary procedure, marks the beginning of this relationship, while institutionalisation will be the second step.

A cheap and efficient government office free of red tape will be a good solution, said the Minister.

According to him, the Law on associations offers a good solution for the work of foreign NGOs in Serbia.

Due to political turbulence, the Law was sent to parliamentary procedure four times and was composed in 2001, therefore I believe it is well composed. The idea is to enable setting up NGOs without the state's intervention, said Markovic.

He added that three physical or legal persons are enough to set up an NGO.

Markovic stressed that the government has become aware of the importance of the civil sector and added that a democratic society cannot exist or be successful without it.

Director of the Civil Initiatives Miljenko Dereta said that the greatest positive step is instituionalisation of these associations.

Minister of Youth and Sport Snezana Samardzic-Markovic noted that 37 civil associations and 16,000 young people were involved in the creation of this strategy.

The strategy was included in the Council of Europe's manual as an example of good practice in creating strategic documents.

Representatives of the EU Integration Office, the Deputy Prime Minister's team for implementation of the Poverty Reduction Strategy and representatives of NGOs from the region attended the conference.