Civil society organizations must advocate positive social values and citizen activism. Professionalizing civil society organizations is contrary to the very nature of their actual role and purpose in modern democratic processes.
Even though Transparency International Croatia (TIC) was established in 2000, today it represents a new way of civic engagement of individuals in the public sphere, advocating activities which are directed at specific social issues, as the fight against corruption represents one of the biggest challenges in Croatia today.
Transparency International Croatia was one of the founding members of Platform 112, an advocacy network of civil society organizations whose goal was to ensure the fulfilment of the conditions for closing Chapter 23 as one of the final conditions for concluding negotiations for Croatia’s accession to the European Union. Members of TIC unanimously decided in October 2014 that TIC withdraw from Platform 112 because it was deemed that it had served its purpose.
Similarly, TIC has challenged and opposed Transparency International, which is in fact a German non-government organization, because we considered that the way in which this organization acts and is conducted is not based on the values which it purports to advocate. The TIC accreditation procedure was conducted on the basis of unquantifiable criteria, a non-transparent procedure and slanderous accusations from secret informants in Croatia, in order to impede the real fight against corruption in Croatia. The reasons given for terminating our cooperation were as follows:
· Inadequate financial stability
· Non-cooperation with associations gathered around Platform 112
· Volunteering as opposed to being paid for our work in TIC
The High Administrative Court overturned the 2014 Decision by the Ministry of Administration which was aimed at hindering TIC’s work in Croatia on the basis of complaints by individuals in Croatia who are closely associated with certain TI people in Berlin. Over the past two years, TIC members and volunteers have invested more than 7,400 volunteer hours in TIC. There were no fees or any compensation whatsoever paid and funds in the amount of 52,500 Kuna which have been obtained from institutional support for 2016 from the National Foundation for the Development of Civil Society have been spent on utility bills and the gas connection for which TIC waited two years for approval.
We have filed criminal complaints regarding the hindrance of our work (on the part of “secret informants”) with the Public Prosecutor and all other relevant bodies in Croatia.
Citizens have the right to get involved in civil society and to be equal partners with all other key players in the public arena. Civil society organizations have every right to be different and advocate differing positions about public issues. They must be enabled in their activities as opposed to being hindered, and be able to equally present their different views.