From an STSM to State University Tetovo in North Macedonia

Dr. Bezen Coskun, Associate Professor at TED University, Faculty of Administrative Sciences and Economics, received a STSM grant to visit State University Tetovo, North Macedonia between 19 and 28 June. Coskun conducted a field research entitled “The Impact of Civil Society Dialogue as an External Action Practice of the EU on Accession States.” Coskun closely worked with Professor Shefik Shehu and his colleagues from the Political Science Department of the Tetovo University. Besides academic meetings, several civil society organizations in Tetovo, Skopje and Gostivar were visited. As a young state (independence date: 8 September 1991) and one of the EU accession states, North Macedonia has a vibrant civil society. Even the establishment of the Tetovo University by Fadil Sulejmani in 1994 was the outcome of a grassroots action. There are around 500 registered CSOs in North Macedonia. Active CSOs usually work on specific fields related to democracy, rule of law, youth empowerment and social inclusion. Also, the ethnic diversity of the Macedonian society reflects in civil society. During the STSM, civil society representatives from three major communities of the country (Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish communities) were visited. To sustain their activities, most of the active civil society organizations rely on international funds in general, IPA and Erasmus+ funds in particular. By inquiring about the impact and effectiveness of the civil society support programs as an external action practice of the EU, the visit was invaluable to understand the inner workings of civil society in EU accession states. The mission stimulates a new common research area between the researchers from Turkey and North Macedonia.  Draft of a co-authored article with Prof. Shehu comparing the impact of the EU funds on civil society in Turkey and North Macedonia will be a starting point for future academic collaborations.  Furthermore, visited CSOs such as Community Development Initiative (Tetovo) and Youth and Community Center (Gostivar) were introduced to Youth Services Center (Ankara) for future collaborations at the civil society level.