The 2018 Civil Society Organization Sustainability Index (CSOSI) for Central and Eastern Europe and Eurasia published by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) highlights Estonian civil society organizations (CSOs) as role models in the region; however, attacks targeting CSOs in several states are raising concerns.
"Our civil society is the strongest in the region," said Kai Klandorf, director of the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations (EMSL). "Estonia's indicators in terms of the sector's infrastructure, advocacy and legal environment are good. In need of attention are organizational capacity, financial viability, and service provision."
The study, which included Estonia and 24 other states in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, cited as a disconcerting development the fact that public perceptions of CSOs have deteriorated over the past year in ten of the states studied.
In several states, organizations opposing the government's positions have been branded as "disloyal," and their access to public financing has been limited. Such CSOs have also become targets of attacks by state-related media, which are most frequent against organizations related to the environment, anti-discrimination as well as the protection of human and women's rights.
"The capability of CSOs grew in those states where the government took conscious action to foster their activities," Klandorf said. "Capacity has declined in states where [CSOs] are pitted against one another for political reasons and where the activities of undesirable organizations have been limited."
Click here to read the 2018 index (link to PDF), including Estonia's results in detail.
Editor: Aili Vahtla