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Faces of Open Government: Minister Jeton Shaqiri

Rostros del gobierno abierto: Ministro Jeton Shaqiri

Jeton Shaqiri|

Jeton Shaqiri is the Minister of Information Society and Administration in North Macedonia. Following a Cabinet Meeting and workshops supported by the OGP Support Unit, Minister Shaqiri reflects on North Macedonia’s open government achievements throughout their decade-long membership in OGP and shares their ambitions for their fifth OGP action plan, which the government is currently co-creating with civil society.

The Government of North Macedonia is currently implementing its 2020-2024 Operational Program, which includes many open government goals like fighting corruption, improving access to justice and to public services, and reforming the public administration so it better serves citizens. OGP members often find success using their OGP action plans to deliver on existing domestic or international strategies and pledges. As North Macedonia co-creates its fifth OGP action plan this year, how will you align your commitments with the Operational Program?

As an OGP member since 2011, we have behind us four action plans and results that have made a change in our society. We’ve advanced concrete projects and the culture of work of institutions. Today, the public can more easily understand the work of government, influence policy-making and the delivery of public services, and hold the government accountable for the results of its policies and the performance of provided services.

Through the implementation of OGP action plans, we can not only respond to some of the government priorities but also to the priorities of other initiatives, such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

This year is especially important for us. As a result of a dynamic and inclusive co-creation process with the active involvement of hundreds of representatives from the civil and public sector, the OGP Council, and the OGP Network of Civil Society Organizations, North Macedonia will produce our fifth OGP action plan for the period 2021-2023. In line with the priorities set in the Operation Program, the action plan will focus on the issues of transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, prevention of corruption, promotion of good governance, and improvement of public services, access to justice and open justice. The action plan will include all three pillars of government – executive, legislative and judicial – making North Macedonia the first country in the Western Balkans region to do so. New commitments in the action plan will confirm the strong political will for reform work focused on the joint strategic priorities of the Republic of North Macedonia, NATO and the European Union membership, ensuring full separation of powers between different branches of government, the functioning of the rule of law and the building of strong, professional and open institutions.

PHOTO: Credit: Ministry of Information Society and Administration, Government of the Republic of North Macedonia

North Macedonia is the only OGP member in the Western Balkans and one of very few in Europe working on access to justice. The progress you have made in this area serves as a great example for the open government community. What lessons can you share about the work you’ve done so far? What are you hoping to achieve in your next OGP action plan?

The right of access to justice is one of the fundamental human rights. The exercise of this right is connected and depends on the availability of legal services for all citizens, regardless of their material and social position. We’ve been able to advance access to justice reforms through strong advocacy of the Ministry of Information Society and Administration (MISA) and Foundation Open Society Macedonia (FOSM) and full engagement of the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Labor and Social Policy. We hope to achieve access to justice for all citizens through the provision of community-based justice services and its recognition by the state through different delivery models. Examples include community lawyering, community paralegals, university-based legal clinics (as a new modality for student training on work with marginalized communities), public legal education sessions, provision of free legal aid, sustainability of the CSOs services, and more.

Building on the success of the two access to justice commitments in the 2018-2020 action plan, we have proposed five draft commitments to continue improving access to justice in the country for marginalized and vulnerable groups – including the Roma community, people with substance use disorder, among others –  that are facing barriers related to access to health, social, and legal services. 

Investments in access to justice and legal empowerment of marginalized and vulnerable communities on a national and local level, will strengthen the capacity of individuals to use the law to find solutions to their justice problems. It is a way to ensure development and deepen democracy, giving voice to those who have been historically powerless to bridge over the barriers related to access to health, social, and legal services, especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

PHOTO: Credit: Ministry of Information Society and Administration, Government of the Republic of North Macedonia

Tackling corruption is another key priority for North Macedonia’s next action plan, with draft commitments around public procurement and beneficial ownership transparency already underway. Can you tell us more about what you’re hoping to achieve in this area?

Corruption and political abuse are the greatest enemies of citizens and institutions. In this way, as in all previous cycles of OGP, we will pay special attention to the issue of preventing corruption and promoting good governance. We will include commitments related to beneficial ownership transparency, public procurement as open data, public disclosure of the files of officials selected or appointed by the government and of asset declarations to continue to improve on the efforts initiated in the third and fourth action plans. After the introduction of the Register of Beneficial Owners, the new efforts will enable public publication of information about the beneficial owners of companies that have concluded public procurement contracts. The government will provide to the citizens an adequate insight into the competency of the chosen candidates, property situation and the interests of the selected and appointed persons and an overview of their changes in the period while performing the function. Through those commitments we strongly believe that we are moving one step further in improving good governance by introducing the new tools to prevent corruption.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev met with the OGP Support Unit ahead of a Cabinet Meeting in April 2021.PHOTO: Credit: Government of the Republic of North Macedonia


In April, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and OGP’s CEO Sanjay Pradhan shared remarks about the vital opportunity North Macedonia has in 2021 to push the open government agenda further and shine as a regional and global leader. While OGP is housed in the Ministry of Information Society and Administration, the meeting demonstrated how open government values are uniquely ingrained in the work across ministries. Can you share a bit about this collaboration?

The Cabinet Meeting in April this year, hosted by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev together with all members of the Government of North Macedonia, reaffirmed the vision for open government and gave additional focus on promoting the existing values of transparent and accountable work of the  government. As a competent institution for coordination of the OGP process, the Ministry of Information Society and Administration works in close cooperation with the non-governmental and public sector on these values. Considering that this initiative has been actively worked on for 10 years and we are advancing each new cycle from what we have learned in the previous one, I can say with certainty that in our society, we have a large network of reformers that not only understand them but actively work on the values ​​of OGP, transparency, accountability, participation and inclusion. Proper planning, prioritization and implementation of commitments is confirmed and achieved through the established governance structure and participation in the OGP initiative with committed adherence to the standards for co-creation and a multi-stakeholder forum. The CSO Network for OGP, the Working Group, the recently-formed OGP Council and other stakeholders will continue to work together to coordinate, monitor and implement the OGP commitments.

In September 2020, we began a dynamic and inclusive co-creation process for our fifth action plan, involving hundreds of representatives of civil society, civil servants from public institutions and holders of public functions in the public sector. We held three online educational meetings, 12 online meetings to identify problems, responsible institutions and the need for their possible transformation into commitments and over 40 individual meetings for clarification and determination of commitments in the action plan. Additionally, as a continuation of the Cabinet Meeting in early June, two cabinet workshops related to Access to Justice, Public Services Delivery, Transparency and Accountability were held ensuring the finalization of the commitments through a proper review of what has already been done in close cooperation with key officials from institutions and civil society representatives.

I’m confident the commitments will provide real recognition of the results and the citizens will be able to confirm the change.

Comments (1)

Public Officials Association Reply

excellent cooperation with the national coordinator Ms. Gordana Gapikj

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