Meeting with the Representatives of the Civil Society Forum National Platforms and the NGOs of the Eastern Partnership Countries
On March 17-18 the Fourth Ordinary Session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly (PA) will be held in Armenia. On March 16 within the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly under the auspices of Euronest PA Co-Presidents Heidi Hautala and Boris Tarasyuk a joint discussion of the Euronest PA and Civil Society was held with the cooperation of the Open Society Foundations, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the European Foundation of Democracy. Moderator of the Session was Richard Giragosian, Director of the Regional Studies Center, Armenia.
The representatives of the Civil Society of the Eastern Partnership Region and the MPs of the partner countries discussed the achievements and challenges of the Eastern Partnership. The rapporteurs touched upon the new strategic situation created in the region and the aspirations of some countries, the successes and failures recorded in the advancement of democratic reforms.
They also referred to the European Neghbourhood and EU regional policy, the recommendations and views of the representatives of the Civil Society on the revision of its instruments.
In the opening word the Euronest PA Co-President Boris Tarasyuk has welcomed the participants of the discussion, noting that the Euronest PA is an important platform for exchanging opinions.
In the word of Krzystof Bobinski, Head of the Eastern Partnership Civil Forum, representing Poland, the civil society in Armenia has registered progress during these years, which is welcome. He has highlighted the ongoing reforms, has touched upon the joint work of the civil society and the parliaments. Addressing the CoE member states, he has called on to adhere to the adopted principles, to work with the representatives of the Civil Forum for ensuring the implementation of the democratic principles.
Iryna Sushko, Representative of the National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society, referring to the civil society, has noted that in the Eastern Partnership countries it is being newly formed and still lacks its institutional structure, however it has proved its adherence to democracy and the rule of human rights.
Vano Chkhikvadze, Representative of the Open Society Foundation, representing Georgia, has talked about the achievements and shortcomings of Georgia in recent years, touched upon the challenges. Particularly, he has touched upon the issues of judicial power, protection of personal data and human rights in Georgia.
Nino Evgenidze, Executive Director of the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) , representing Georgia, has talked about the membership of Georgia to the EU Association Agreement and has noted the recorded successes.
Ion Manole, Representative of the National Platform of Moldova, has highly assessed the role of the civil society within the framework of the Eastern dialogue.
Hovsep Khurshudyan, Coordinator of the Fourth Group of the Civil Society, has presented a research which relates to the integration processes to the Eastern Partnership of the six countries.
In the word of the Head of the Eastern Partnership Parliamentary Assembly, the Chairman of the RA NA Standing Committee on Foreign Relations Artak Zakaryan, the work of the Euronest will be successful only in the atmosphere of mutual trust. According to Artak Zakaryan, the cooperation with the civil society is very important, since if there is no mutual trust between the societies of the Eastern Partnership member states, any work will be fruitless.
Larisa Minasyan, Executive Director of the Open Society Foundation-Armenia, summed up the discussion. Touching upon the subject, she has noticed that the civil society is important for each country.
When the EU’s Eastern Partnership initiative was launched in May 2009, the governments of the six Eastern European partner countries declared their intention to respect the values of democracy and human rights, and to align with EU standards of good governance and the rule of law. With a common Soviet past, they embarked together on the path of closer integration with the EU, but already in 2009 they were setting out from different starting-points with varying expectations of their trajectory. Some of them declared an ambition to become EU members. For others, their engagement was more a question of balancing geopolitical relations, not least with the EU to the west and Russia to the east.
The new edition of the publication The European Integration Index for Eastern Partnership Countries 2014 produced by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in cooperation with partner organisations generates recommendations to guide countries along the reform process and serves as a monitoring tool for both civil society and policymakers in the partner countries and the EU.