Strengthening civil society has had a prominent place in the international community's strategy for the West Balkans. Rather than creating an independent and sustainable NGO sector, however, it has made local NGOs largely dependent on the international community for funding and other assistance. This article examines the international community's perceptions of local NGOs and vice versa, drawing on findings from 60 in-depth interviews with representatives of the international community and 18 focus groups with NGO representatives in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia. While the international community is fairly positive towards the NGO sector, the NGOs are more critical of the international community, and particularly so in Macedonia. Perceptions are shaped by a number of individual and organisational factors as well as by the international community's overall agenda in the region.

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