EAP Civil Society conference: EaP Index in ENP Commissioner's hands

On 20-21 May, the European Union's Eastern Partnership (EaP) Civil Society Conference was held in Riga and attended by over 300 civil society representatives and experts from the EU Member States and EaP countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as Latvian heads of state. It was also visited by the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn, who together with EaP Index Chief Editor and Pasos Director Jeff Levitt opened the last panel Re-Vitalising the Neighbourhood and the Vision and Tasks for the Eastern Partnership hand-to hand exchanging EaP Index 2014 publication and further on drawing up the future challenges for EaP to encounter.

It was rather symbolic to start with EaP Index, as it marks the annual integrative evolution of the eastern partner countries so far and poses the question “what’s next?” In the evaluative context of EaP framework, the Commissioner stressed the EU strategic and financial support for EaP region as well as urged the EaP countries to be patient, and “patience is the key strategic element on the way for transition and development”. It in a way marks the long way of the next roadmap from Riga to Malta (the next EU presidency). However, the representatives of CSO’s from Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia took their chance to “submit” their membership applications to the Commissioner, which was a significant strategic commitment and a sign of readiness from the civil societies.

As one of the most important issues, raised in the conference, was mobility and trans-border cooperation, as it is mobility and visa liberalization between the Eastern Partnership and European Union states that would strengthen and intensify the exchange of ideas, values, and experience. The Eastern Partnership summit in Riga should propose a visa free regime for Georgia and Ukraine from January 1, 2016, whilst still demanding these two states to finalize the implementation of reforms. 

The participants of the conference also call upon the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit to declare a clear position regarding EU membership perspectives for the states that have begun the implementation of Association Agreements. The European Union should be open and inclusive in policy making for Eastern Partnership, thus reaffirming its commitments to be “United in Diversity”, the recommendations said.

Creation of mechanism reducing the negative effects of propaganda, increase of NATO and EaP state cooperation in deterring new hybrid wars, and granting a visa-free regime for Georgia and Ukraine. These and other recommendations were incorporated in the recommendation paper of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Conference where the EaP CSF members had a leadership role. These recommendations were presented to the Riga Eastern Partnership Summit.

Recommendations conclude that Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine has left deep and negative effects on the Eastern Partnership’s region, and therefore it is essential to continue and strengthen the policies of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership, with a specific focus on supporting civil society. Furthermore, the recommendations also note the negative effects of Russian propaganda on its neighbouring states. The necessity to strengthen European values, establish mechanisms to constrain the negative effects of propaganda at state and public level, was also noted in the paper.

These recommendations will also be distributed to the European Union institutions, as well as the governments of the European Union and Eastern Partnership member states, with the aim of developing a more effective framework to achieve the aims of the Eastern Partnership.

The recommendations in their entirety are available here

More pictures from the conference: here.https://www.flickr.com/photos/ankfoto/sets/72157653260566545


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