23 July 2012
The two co-Chairs of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum were invited to attend the EU-EaP Ministerial Meeting on 23 July 2012, and invited Eastern Partner governments and EU Delegations in the partner countries to the Civil Society Forum annual event in Stockholm, Sweden, on 29-30 November 2012.
In a statement made to the EU-Eastern Partners ministerial meeting, held in Brussels on 23 July 2012 to sign a joint statement on the roadmap to the autumn 2013 EaP summit, the co-Chairs of the CSF Steering Committee, Ihor Kohut and Jeff Lovitt, welcomed the increased engagement with both EU and Eastern Partnership governments in the governmental platforms and ministerial meetings through the extension of permanent participant status for the CSF.
Ihor Kohut, who spoke on behalf of the CSF at the meeting, said: “Civil society actors are well-placed to take up the role as independent watchdogs, monitoring and evaluating the effective use of resources, and observance and strengthening of democratic reforms, human rights, and the rule of law.”
According to the statement, “it is not acceptable to have any political prisoners in the Eastern Partnership countries, and we call for the unconditional release of all. On 26 June 2012, the Council of Europe called for resolution of the cases of more than 80 political prisoners in Azerbaijan alone, and we must not forget that next week marks the anniversary of the imprisonment of Ales Bialiatski, a courageous human rights defender in Belarus.”
The CSF is planning to undertake election observation missions in the forthcoming parliamentary elections taking place in 2012 in Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine, and the Forum called for the establishment in all six partner countries of trilateral fora for regular consultations with the respective partner government, the EU delegation, and representatives of the national platforms of the CSF. These fora should consider, assess, and monitor implementation of, policy developments in relations between the EU and the respective partner countries, and public consultations should be held to reach out to all sectors of civil society and the wider public.
Ihor Kohut told the ministers that the annual Forum event, to take place in Stockholm, Sweden on 29-30 November, will include a debate to assess the first six months of the roadmap, as well as in-depth sessions on elections, media freedom, and the fight against corruption. He confirmed that the Forum would welcome the attendance of high-level representatives of the partner governments, as well as the heads of the EU Delegations in the six partner countries.
“The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area will deepen Armenia’s economic integration with the EU,” Onno Simons, Acting Head of the EU Delegation in Armenia, said at the EUAG seminar in Yerevan on “EU-Armenia: challenges and opportunities in the negotiations process towards a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area.”
“The start of these negotiations means that Armenia has made a clear choice for Europe. As you know, while a DCFTA can be combined with participation in another free trade agreement, it is incompatible with membership in a customs union with third countries,” he said.
The EU Trade Policy Committee approved the launch of negotiations towards a DCFTA between the EU and Armenia in February 2012. A ‘zero-round’ preparatory meeting was held in early May, which was followed by the first round of negotiations in Brussels on 19-20 June this year.
“The launch of the negotiations is a key step in a long process during which Armenia has proven to respond sufficiently to the requirements for starting such negotiations. This agreement cannot be just a piece of paper. It should go hand in hand with real change. It requires further reform in Armenia, which the EU is ready to support,” Onno Simons said.
According to him, the agreement can lead to a wide range of benefits for Armenia.
“A DCFTA would imply Armenia’s integration with the EU Internal Market to the fullest possible extent. This includes the elimination of barriers to trade, services and investments. Armenian producers and exporters will, thus, be offered free access to a market with over 500 million high income customers. Experts estimate that Armenian exports could increase by 30%,” Acting Head of the EU Delegation in Armenia said, adding that “having such an agreement with the EU, will likely attract more investors in Armenia and improve the economy. As tariffs and barriers disappear, more products and services will become available to Armenian consumers.”
“Moreover, all Armenians will win from the reforms necessary for a DCFTA, since standards, laws and procedures in Armenia will be modernized to EU levels.
Consumers will start enjoying better quality and safety of products.
- Armenian and European businessmen will be working in your country in a more fair and business-friendly environment, thanks to reforms in customs, administration and competition.
- Inventors and artists will benefit from the protection of intellectual property rights.
- Central and local government authorities will spend more efficiently, and, hence, save taxpayers’ money thanks to a competitive transparent system for public tenders.”
“Undoubtedly, the DCFTA between the EU and Armenia will lead to a challenging process of transformation, for example on customs procedures, but we trust that this is a positive process.
It would require change not only on the normative level, but also efficient and consistent implementation.
The European Union believes that with sufficient political will, as well as assistance where necessary, challenges can be successfully overcome. Then Armenia and the EU can, in time, finish negotiations and fully benefit from this agreement,” Onno Simons concluded.
This landmark event is devoted to a range of topics in the fields of Human Rights Education and Youth Activism. This year, the Summer School focuses on the best practices of young human rights activists in advocating for minority rights in Armenia.
The Summer School pursues the following objectives:
- Provide an understanding of human rights education;
- Promote dialogue between minority youth and human rights activists, national, regional and international watchdog organizations, government institutions and civil society;
- Provide a space for participants to share their best practices in the field of human rights education and minority rights in particular;
- Create networks and alliances among different communities, cultural groups, non-profit organizations, experts and government institutions to better promote minority rights in Armenia;
- Empower minority youth to act as multipliers in their society and raise awareness on human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The ideal participants should:
- Be aged between 18 and 35 years;
- Have a general understanding of human rights;
- Show high motivation and ability to live and work in a multicultural environment;
- Be available in the first week of August;
- Be responsible and available for teamwork both during and after the event.
Candidates will be selected on the basis of gender & geographical balance, as well as their motivation and skills in the relevant fields.
Interested candidates should send their CV and a motivation letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please, describe the following in your motivation letter:
- Why are you interested to participate in the WFCE Summer School?
- How will you use the knowledge and skills gained during the Summer School?
- Your experience and skills in the relevant fields.
INNOVATION: If you have a Facebook profile, you are welcome to send your profile link instead of writing a motivation letter.
If you have any questions about the application process, please, do not hesitate to contact us. We For Civil Equality NGO is covering all costs related to your participation including transportation, accommodation, meal, coffee, training materials, etc. The Summer School will be from 6 to 9 August in Tshaghkadzor.
The training is organized within “Youth Dialogue for Diversity” Project funded by the Dutch Embassy in Tbilisi.
THE DEADLINE FOR SENDING APPLICATIONS IS 30 JULY 2012, 18:00 Yerevan time.
PLEASE, NOTE THAT LATE APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.
EaP Civil Society Forum presents recommendations on next generation of EU programmes Erasmus for All and Creative Europe
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) Civil Society Forum has written a letter setting out recommendations regarding the next generation of the EU Programmes Erasmus for All and Creative Europe. The recommendations were agreed by the coordinators from the Forum’s working group on contacts between people, and addressed to representatives of EU and EaP countries who attended a meeting of the EaP Platform on Contacts between People.
Regarding Erasmus for All, civil society representatives reiterated the need for a programme which should have a clear orientation on active citizenship and participatory learning and the European values needed; it should keep and develop operational grants for European umbrella associations and should value not only systemic, but also organisational and individual impact to enable the participation of small and medium size organizations and of young people, adults and seniors.
Members of working group saw see the Programme Creative Europe 2014-2020 as an opportunity to improve cultural cooperation between the EU and Eastern Partnership countries and as an important step towards building open and democratic societies in the EU neighbourhood. It should contribute also to a working dialogue for cultural policy reform to release the socio-economic potential of cultural development and cooperation. The civil societyrepresentativescalled on EU and EaP countries to remove the obstacles to international cultural cooperation. (EU Neighbourhood Info Centre)