The external environment is a very important factor and one that has a large impact in the execution of activities and the development of CSOs. Factors of the external environment which directly impact the development or the shortcomings in the civil society sector are: socio-economic, socio-political and socio-cultural.
Socio-economic factor – Kosovo is one of the poorest countries in Europe, where nearly half of the population is estimated to be living below the national poverty line and half the population is unemployed. Kosovo’s economy is characterized by a very broad informal sector. Also there is a huge dependency on remittances (money sent from diaspora) and donor assistance. Ranked as one of the most corrupted countries in Europe, the economy of Kosovo does not contribute to creating an encouraging environment for the civil society to act.
Socio-political factor – Long periods of political instability and a very problematic judicial system – despite direct help provided by the European Union to this sector – put Kosovo in a position of a partially free country when it comes to exercising of political rights. We come across a slightly more positive situation with the basic legal framework on civil society, where the Law on NGOs enables a swift and easy registration procedure and provides the main principles for the establishment, operation and dissolution of NGOs. Despite having a large number of printed and electronic media in Kosovo, investigative journalism can rarely be seen because of fear of punishment. The overall processes that Kosovo underwent during the last few years, as well as the international presence and donor approach have damaged the criticizing culture in the country.
Socio-cultural factor – is based on three main components: interpersonal trust, tolerance and public sensitivity. The level of interpersonal trust among the citizens of Kosovo is very low. One of the main reasons for this low level of interpersonal trust is the disappointment of the citizens as a consequence of general economic and political stagnation in the country. Regarding tolerance, Kosovar society is presented as being moderately tolerant. Certain taboo issues such as homosexuality and HIV/AIDS are still deemed unacceptable to the Kosovar society.
Information shall be supplemented at the time of publishing the Civil Society Index in April 2014.