The end of the year 2012 was marked as well by the participation of the International Fund for Cooperation and Partnership of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea as an observer in the 4th annual Civil Society Forum (CSF) of Eastern Partnership.
Thereby, on the 29-30th of November 2012, Ms. Julia Akhunova, BSCSIF Project Coordinator and Advisor to Secretary General, represented the Fund at the Civil Society Forum in the frame of Eastern Partnership Program that took place in Stockholm, Sweden. In the Forum organized by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 202 non-governmental organizations took part from EU countries and non-EU EaP countries: Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia and Belarus.
The opening session was attended by Mr. Stefan Fűle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Mr. Christian Strohal, Vice-chair UN Council on Human Rights and Former director of OSCE, Mrs. BirgittaOhlsson, Swedish Minister for EU Affairs and Co-chairs of EaPCSF Steering Committee, Mr. Jeff Lovitt and Mr. IhorKohut. As well, one of the guest speakers was Mrs. Natalia Gherman, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Republic of Moldova, as the next Forum will be hosted by Moldova.
“The idea of the Forum was to make a voice of civil society heard and to support the countries of the “Eastern Partnership” in order to develop dialogue and to communicate with each other not just on the level of government and its institutions, but also representatives of civil society”- declared Mr. Andrea Matteo Fontana, the representative of the European Commission, in the interview to the ENPI press center. “This happens due to the Forum and its national platforms in each Eastern Partnership country. The opinion of civil society is taken into consideration when the new programs are being elaborated.” Since the establishment of Eastern Partnership in 2009, the EU support to the civil society increased more than two times, and now it is estimated around 57,5 million euro for all six countries for the period, 2011 – 2013.
The Forum created in 2009, is operating on the level of four working groups:
– Democracy, human rights, good governance and stability
– Economic integration and convergence with EU legislation
– Environment, climate change and security
– Contacts betwen people – education, culture, youth
Besides, this year for the first time a new 5th working group was established for trade unions – on social dialogue.
After the official part and plenary session, the meetings in working groups and sub-groups started, where our international organization was introduced and a brief information about its activity was given. BSCSIF became a member of the 4th working group on education, culture, youth. At the end of the meeting new coordinators of the Committee and working groups were elected. Due to the fact that BSCSIF participated in the Forum as an observer, according to the norms and regulations of the EaP Forum, the Fund didn’t have a right to vote or to nominate candidates.
Thus, considering the fact that the goals and objectives of the Forum are similar to those promoted by our international organization, and 5 of the EaP countries are as well represented in the Fund (Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Belarus), BSCSIF aims at extending project collaboration in the frame of EaP Civil Society Forum and establishing a fruitful and effective cooperation network with the NGOs involved into the Eastern Partnership initiative.