Name of the project: Triple A for Citizens: Access to information, Advice & Active help
Duration: December 2012 – December 2014
Donor: European Commission
European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) – Belgium
Nacionalna zaklada za razvoj civilnog društva – Croatia
Asocijacija za demokratske inicijative – BiH
Program građanskih prava Kosova
Law Centres Federation (LCF) – Velika Britanija
National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux – Romania
National Association of Citizens Information Services – Irland
Association of Civil Society Development Centre – Turkey
YUCOM – Serbia
Nine organizations from EU member states and the western Balkans are united in a common task – to challenge the myth that the citizens of post – communist societies are passive by showing no interest in the defense of their own rights. The rejection of this myth is based on the assumption that this legend will disappear as soon as the way of exercising their rights is brought to the public attention – both before and after the occurrence of a possible problem.
This is the reason for the decision that the concept of counseling for citizens is widened in the western Balkans and Turkey. The regional forum on counseling citizens should encourage this process.
Because of many reasons counseling for citizens must be seen as important – it provides direct assistance to individuals in the form of information, gives recommendations or active help and at the same time it is an important source of getting to know the real needs and problems of people. The counseling services may use that knowledge of the real needs of citizens to influence the respective states politics.
Our first task is to establish where Serbia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Turkey stand today regarding the topic of counseling for citizens – are there any assumptions for their existence, which are the forms of counseling, where and to what extend does counseling already exist.
Therefore it is important that the research we started by surveying the organizations isn’t only understood as an assistance to citizens but also to the organizations in question as we plan to form a base for counseling and to collect information on that topic at one central place.
Depending on their own possibilities organizations from the EU will survey the application of the existing and successful counseling models in the western Balkans. The regional partnership will also publish a call for financing of organizations wishing to add the dimension of counseling in their work.
The implementation of this project will be performed through the twinning arrangements within the partnership: Romania – Croatia and Kosovo, United Kingdom – Turkey and Serbia, Ireland and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Already the number of counseling cases (questions and complaints of citizens) processed by the ten organizations should show the necessity and importance of a counseling service for citizens.
Therefore the counseling services that will arise within this project should be sustainable and permanently active.