Every civil activism is a legitimate way of doing politics

 

When an Italian daily asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs in RM’s government, Nikola Poposki, about the pressures, as he says, that are caused by George Soros’ Foundation in Macedonia in regard to the internal politics, he gave the following untruthful statement:

The problem isn’t just the huge amount of money, viewed according to the criteria of Skopje, but also the abnormal concentration. In fact, 90% of the financial assets which the NGOs receive, come from one source only. And if you add the fact that great deal of the users actively do politics (which should be done only by political parties), under the guise of humanitarian organizations, it can be clear for you as well that all of this could not be accepted by one sovereign country.

[Source: Веб страница на ВМРО ДПМНЕ. Date: 15 January 2017]

 

EXPLANATION:

In his interview for the Italian daily La Verità, the Minister Poposki, in the style of VMRO-DPMNE’s trending campaign for “desorosoization”, seriously initiated by the Proclamation of VMRO-DPMNE read in front of the State Election Commission (SEC) at the end of last year, states numbers and attempts to compare the financial support given by the Foundation Open Society – Macedonia (FOSM) with the financial support given by the Budget of RM, when it comes to NGOs or CSOs.

These numbers, albeit incomparable due to the non-transparency of the budget expenditures regarding this purpose (example Budget of RM for 2016 – item 463) as well as the non-transparency of expenditures regarding this purpose on local level or of public enterprises, for example (page 4), won’t be problematized in this article.

The section that we assess as untruthful is related to the claim that “great deal of the users actively do politics (which should be done only by political parties).”

Poposki’s statement can be checked by visiting Foundation Open Society – Macedonia’s website and consulting the documents that contain information on who receives money from the Foundation and what the money is spent for. In the 2015 Annual Report, as part of the implementation of FOSM’s Strategy for the period 2014-2017, it can be noticed that organizations or individuals appear as users in the following categories:

  • Freedom of expression
  • Advancing of human rights in the health care system
  • Youth engagement in social issues
  • Fight against corruption
  • Monitoring and documenting of human rights
  • Budget transparency

Furthermore, the concepts that have been implemented in these areas are also stated, and among them, for example is the Humanitarian and Legal Assistance to Migrants concept.

Regardless how many organizations or media are financed using this money (only four organizations with media websites), the statement is still untruthful exactly because of the lump accusation that great deal of the users do politics.

Viewed from a substantial viewpoint, a significant part of every CSO’s activity is a political activity. Isn’t dealing with freedom of expression or freedom of media a political activity to some extent? Isn’t, among other, monitoring and documenting of human rights, or, fight against corruption, a political activity?

All activities of these organizations, of course, are political and they have nothing to do with political parties. Namely, it is a matter of dealing with certain policies of the government or the local self-governments that are under observation of CSOs, which implement various activities for criticizing and lobbying for altering of those policies if weaknesses are determined or if citizens perceive them as wrong. And, since when this has become illegitimate or has been reserved only for political parties?

Hence, Poposki’s statement, although formally, is partially true, it has nothing to do with truth, i.e. is untruthful. Every civil rally for support of, for example, fight against limitation of freedom of expression or against limitation of the right of abortion or emancipation of Roma women, de jure is civil activity, but de facto is political activity of citizens, and it doesn’t mean that “users actively do politics” and that “it should be done only by political parties”.

There is one more untruth in Poposki’s statement, and it is that 90% of the funds CSOs receive come from the same center, i.e. FOSM, which is also untrue.

Only by comparing the financial reports of FOSM and the Budget, we can notice that both the government and FOSM have spent almost identical amounts on CSOs (in government’s case this in non-transparent), and also, large amounts of money, probably larger than the money in CSOs, come from UNDP, USAID and above all, the EU (see the table below), as well as from bilateral donations by various friends of Macedonia.

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Tabular overview of EU’s financing in Macedonia that shows huge investments in civil activities. Source: European Union

However, Poposki’s statement, besides untruthfulness, contains inconsistency as well. Namely, in the past 25 years, huge amounts of FOSM’s money have been spent in the form of support of government’s projects or the health care system or the education or the rule of law or the security, and this is backed by the facts given by FOSM’s executive director Fani Karanfilova Panovska, in the interview for NOVA TV.

 

Assessed by: Teofil Blazhevski

 

SOURCES:

 


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

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