With 35 participants, representatives of six political parties, 12 civil society organizations, four foreign diplomatic missions and with the expert team of GONG from Croatia, CIVIL - Center for Freedom, today (September 1, held a thematic meeting "FREE ELECTIONS FOR FREE CITIZENS: The future of Macedonia") in Hotel City Park.
At the meeting, participants discussed the situation in the country, the political crisis and the process of overcoming it. The electoral code, election system, voters register, the State Election Commission and its bodies, the financing of political parties and election campaigns, the media and elections - were just some of the topics that were covered and for which concrete proposals, requests and recommendations were presented. The need for transparency in the political process was also emphasized by the NGO network Platform 23 at their press conference, yesterday.
CIVIL - Center for Freedom and a many other civil society organizations, political parties, experts, along with a large portion of the citizens in the Republic of Macedonia, are deeply concerned with the political crisis and the process of overcoming it. Therefore, in understanding the need to involve more actors and stakeholders in the ongoing political process, despite the fact that negotiations are taking place behind closed doors, it is of great importance that we try to contribute to the process. CIVIL will continue in bringing the requests and views on the political situation and democratic processes in the Republic of Macedonia out in the open. Citizens have the right to request responsibility from the political actors, who are determining the fate of us all behind closed doors.
CIVIL, in cooperation with experts from various fields, analyzes the evolution of the situation on a daily basis and develops documents containing draft measures and legislative solutions for the democratization of the country and for providing at least minimum conditions for free elections in 2016.
During the several-day visit of the expert team of the Republic of Croatia, composed of a representative of GONG and the Centre of Excellence within the Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, CIVIL received valuable expert support and training for its monitoring teams that are allocated across the country.
CIVIL and the expert team from Croatia harmonized their findings and views, one of which is that the political process should generate clear and precise provisions. Violation of the provisions of the laws should be sanctioned appropriately. Intimidation and blackmail of voters or bringing them into a disadvantaged position, are serious violations and must be sanctioned. The obligation to present solutions to the interested public must be respected. The public has the right to obtain information on everything that is happening.
Therefore, we join the calls for negotiators to regularly inform the public about the progress of negotiations.
We agree that in these conditions a comprehensive reform of the Electoral Code can not be implemented, therefore, it is necessary to determine priorities in order to create the conditions for respecting at least the minimum standards for holding free and fair elections.
The state MUST ensure maximum respect for human rights and freedoms, of which the right to vote is one of the fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, international legislation and domestic laws.
A model and system must be provided for conducting elections that fully reflect the will of the voters. "Basically, we can not allow for abuse of power and violation of human rights and freedoms. Macedonia can not afford electoral fraud "- is the loud statement of CIVIL, repeated many times in public.
Since January this year, CIVIL started educating citizens about their right to vote and began monitoring in several areas within the project "My right to vote", supported by the USAID Civil Society Project, which is implemented by the Foundation Open Society - Macedonia. During the entire summer, the monitoring teams, reinforced with new tools and extended mandates, have been monitoring the situation within the framework of the project "Free elections for free citizens", which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany. The expert team of GONG worked with the team of CIVIL, as a result of the support from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.
Macedonia urgently needs an effective and impartial system for protecting the voting rights of the citizens.
CIVIL is working on gathering information from the field. During this period, a continued political campaign is noticed, accompanied by a series of cases of abuse of power in an electoral context. This phenomenon increased especially during the summer period, contrary to the agreements and recommendations of the international community and the domestic public.
The media are under extended pressure and control of the structures of power in the country. CIVIL once again, loudly repeats the demand for freedom of the media. It is necessary to allow the media to fulfill its social function, which is to inform the public. We demand free, politically neutral and open media, so that the public may always be correctly informed!
The openness of the media - will provide voters with objective information that is necessary in making an informed decision.