EaP Index 2014 in conference “Civil Society Contributions to Human Rights and Reform Agenda”

On 8-9 June the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) organised the advocacy conference“Civil Society Contributions to Human Rights and Reform Agenda” aiming at engaging in dialogue with EU decision-makers and human rights organisations.
The conference explored the areas of vital interest to strengthening democracy, human rights and stability in the region, looking at the civil society contribution to the reform agenda in the areas of human rights, security, media freedom, visa facilitation and women’s leadership. A high level closing panel engaged with the participants on the road after Riga Summit and focus of the future reviewed Eastern dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy. The conference opened by Gerhard Schumann-Hitzler, Director for Neighbourhood East at DG NEAR, and closed by Gunnar Wiegand, Director for Russia, Eastern Partnership, Central Asia, Regional Cooperation and OSCE, from EEAS, has been visited by a high number officials from EaP CSf member CSO's, EU officials and varius think tanks and media.
The first panel “Human Rights in the Eastern Partnership countries: Challenges and Focus Areas” addresed difficult human rights situations present in EaP countries, particularly present in Belarus and Azerbijan, having high numbers of political prisoners as well as many political censhorship and regime suppression on human rights defenders. Jeff Lovitt (PASOS) Chief editor of European Integration Index 2014, presented the results in human rights section, and addressed the discrepancy between positions of EaP countries in the index, with Azerbaijan and Belarus being Belarus and Azerbaijan at the bottom of the list. He paid attention to Azerbaijan human rights situation not being correctly refflected in EaP Index 2014 edition. This should prompt Azerbaijan for transparency and accountability to the international community in the implementation of human rights commitments and standards in reality,  rather than normative and declarative state action. Lovitt suggested that the EU should step up the human rights dialogue with Azerbaijan, despite the fact that it is an energy supplier, therefore, human rights should not be sacrificedd or non-visible agants the commercial agenda.
Please see the event agenda attached.

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