Ulicna, Ivana (2014) Sharing the Slovak transformational experience: how can Slovak NGOs contribute to democratisation of Tunisia? Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

As democracy assistance of major donors, such as the EU and the US, has recently encountered fatigue due to the decrease of their credibility especially in the Middle East and North Africa, this study set out to examine the potential of a deeply under-researched smaller post-communist donor, Slovakia, which officially extended its support to Tunisia in 2011. The research question investigated in this project was how Slovak non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can contribute to democratisation of Tunisia.

Based on the data obtained through qualitative, semi-structured interviews with Slovak NGO, research and governmental representatives, this project argued that despite historical, political and cultural differences, the Slovak NGOs can contribute to Tunisia’s democratisation by sharing Slovakia’s very recent transformational experience, which provides the country with a comparative advantage within the donor community and increases its credibility not only as a donor but also as an international partner. The tumultuous Slovak transformation positioned its NGOs best to contribute to Tunisia’s democratisation in the field of civil society building, security sector reform and electoral support. The Slovak experience with both sides of democracy assistance, as a recipient and a donor, allows it to avoid mistakes for which major donors have been criticised, such as one-size-fits-all or institution-centric approaches. Even though, due to its desire to anchor its Western and European identity, it promotes the same liberal values as the major donors, what further distinguishes its democracy assistance is its emphasis on the process of democratisation, rather than endpoints and putting the needs of the recipients to the centre of their project design.

However, if Slovakia wants to use its transformational experience as an added value of its democracy assistance, it should invest more into capacity-development domestically and reallocate finances from ineffective projects to allow the NGOs design long-term, and therefore more effective activities.

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