ENDitorial : E-society in SE Europe

By EDRi · November 23, 2006

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More then 350 participants from 10 different countries (Albania, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania,
Czech Republic and Ireland) participated at the second International
E-Society.Mk Conference organized by Metamorphosis Foundation in Skopje from
15-17 November 2006.

The focus of the conference was regional approach to ICT policy creation.
The conference provided broad participation of experts, policymakers,
advocacy groups and other stakeholders from Macedonia, the South-East
European (SEE) Region and EU to share knowledge and experiences through
series of panel discussions and workshops. It provided an excellent
opportunity for different stakeholders from the region to discuss challenges
ahead, share information, experience and exchange knowledge. Moreover, it
brought a regional perspective to local problems and provided a possibility
to foresee future ones.

Countries in the SEE region share similar historical and political
background, as well as future aspirations towards joining the EU. All of
them share the need for development of information society as tool for
economic and social development. However, they have various levels of
achievement and diverse foci in both policymaking and implementation. The
level of sharing of good practices and regional cooperation in the SEE has
been unsatisfactory. Current and future needs require increased networking
of information society experts, both at policy and practical level,
especially synchronization of governmental communication system by adoption
of same standards, with a view on leapfrogging to EU level. This need is
also evident within the civil society, as increased solidarity, backed by
sharing of experiences and expertise on regional level will contribute to
the local effectiveness of NGOs.

Considering the Macedonian example, almost all relevant stakeholders, from
political actors of all stripes, to business and civic sector
representatives, have repeatedly expressed the need for building of
information society in the country, both as mainstream element of economic
development, and as vehicle for increased inclusion of various communities
and groups. This national-level agreement lead to completing of several
important legislative and policy efforts, most importantly the Law on
Electronic Communications, and the National Strategy on Information Society
Development. Sponsored by UNDP and FOSIM, the National Strategy for
Information Society Development was created by a multilateral expert Task
Force, coordinated by the Commission for IT. Under
patronage of the President, it was accepted by the Government in June, and
adopted with consensus by the Parliament in September 2005. Similarly, most
of SEE countries adopted National ICT Strategies but lag behind with their

During the conference discussions it was emphasized that SEE countries need
to undertake essential and well coordinated efforts in order to achieve the
level of development present in the countries of European Union. NGOs in
partnership with governments and the private sector must play a crucial role
in the development of information society and ensuring that the transition
toward the information society is conducted in a way beneficial to all
segments of the society and in a manner that does not endanger individual
rights and freedoms. As Mr. Antoin O Lachtnain from EDRI-member Digital
Rights Ireland pointed out “It is vital to put citizen’s welfare and dignity
at the heart of the e-society”.

Furthermore, it was underlined that it is unlikely to have high impact
without the full involvement of NGOs which represent the interests of
citizens in various ways and act as a bridge across the gap of trust which
very often exists between citizens and governments.

The challenges the region will face in the future will require increased
cooperation, more skills, increased productivity and a deeper understanding
of the issues arising from using ICT and their influence on our society.

Second International Conference E-Society.mk

Task Force for Information Society – Macedonia

Conclusions and recommendations of the e-Society.Mk 2006

(Contribution by Bardhyl Jashari – EDRI-member Metamorphosis Foundation –