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At the heart of the manifold crises we are facing today, lies a distrust in democracy and its institutions. Democracy and the notion of a liberal and open Europe are increasingly challenged and even endangered by non-democratic ideas and policies. Closely connected to this is a longstanding neglect of the precarious conditions many citizens have to deal with every day. It is a matter of urgency to think about alternatives in both thinking and action and to re-claim Democracy, Social Justice, and Europe.

We see emancipatory potential in the region of Southeastern Europe taking into account the social movements and the civic activism visible in the past two years across the region. With this Forum we also wish to encourage a culture of constructive dialogue with all stakeholders including the ones from the governmental institutions.

The CSF Skopje hopes to unite fellow citizens in thinking, in providing food-for-thought and motivation for action by collaborating and creating new networks, in raising awareness for major concerns and in creating and effectively communicating a new Vision of Democracy in Southeast Europe.

The past, the present and future of the Western Balkans are inseparable from the rest of Europe. This Civil Society Forum is part of a larger series of events in the run-up to the next Western Balkans Summit in Italy. In Skopje, we want to further pro-democratic and emancipatory thinking and action and also lay the groundwork for eventual policy recommendations from Civil Society to EU and WB-6-leaders.

The Civil Society Forum series is focused on establishing a sustainable and relevant second-track platform in the Berlin Process which creates impulses for both decision-makers and wider European debates. Finally, the Civil Society Forums have to be recognized as a relevant segment for the governments and politicians in the region and to continuously create the urge to maintain closer cooperation with the civil society in the future.

The Civil Society Forum Skopje is organized under the umbrella of the “Civil Society Forum of the Western Balkans Summit Series” as a joint initiative of the European Fund for the Balkans, ERSTE Foundation, and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and European Alternatives. The local partners of the Civil So-ciety Forum Skopje are the Macedonian Centre for European Training, JEF Macedonia and the Youth Educational Forum.