Exclusively for Eastbook.eu, Stepan Grigoryan, head of the Analytical Center on Globalization and Regional Cooperation, writes about his reflections on the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum held recently in Stockholm, Sweden, and how the initiative affects the situation in the EaP region.
First it should be noted that the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) is already a well-established institution, through which NGOs from EaP countries have an opportunity to present their activities and current problems. It is also an opportunity to discuss solutions with representatives of their counterparts as well as experts from the EU – plenary meetings of the EaP Civil Society Forum address the most pressing concerns of their representatives, leading to making decisions together. Thus, at the Forum in Stockholm, several resolutions on Ukrainian, Belarusian and Armenian issues, which were brought to the agenda by organizations of the third sector, were finally adopted.
Furthermore, it is very important that the EaP CSF has managed to create a mechanism of selection and election of the organizations participating in its activities during last four years. A complex electoral system ensures participation of leading public organizations from the EaP in the Forum. The key role here play National Platforms forming an approach of the third sector in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
About two hundred of the leading non-governmental organizations from the EaP and several EU countries attended the EaP Forum. The noteworthy part are working groups, where various issues (human rights, elections, freedom of the press, corruption, energy security, environment, culture, education, etc.) are discussed – the results of their efforts were elections of coordinators and proposals for the plenary session of the EaP CSF.
Indeed, the Forum allows NGOs to present their position within working groups and at plenary sessions. The event creates space for National Platforms of the EaP countries to present and promote issues concerning the civil society of the region. Let’s not overlook the effort of working groups forming a united and coherent approach of non-governmental organisations within National Platforms of the six EaP countries. It was confirmed during the Stockholm event when the third working group raised a question regarding nuclear energy safety at the plenary meeting.
It is quite heartening that the European Commission acknowledges the work of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. In his speech in Stockholm, Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle mentioned the important role of the EaP Forum in the development of democracy in the region and expressed the readiness to support the activities, initiated by the participants of the event.
Translated by MA