by Ismayil Fataliyev, Local Correspondent from Azerbaijan.
The 11th Annual Assembly of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum — “EaP4EU: Joining forces for a win-win partnership”, was held on December 4-6, 2019 in Brussels. The key event conducted on an annual basis for the last 10 years brought together over 250 civil society representatives from the EaP region and the EU. Throughout the event stakeholders and key decision-makers debated on the achievements of the Forum and the EaP in general. All participants discussed the common priorities and chances to improve the partnership between the EaP and the EU.
Like in previous years EaP Civil Society Facility Project was an important part of the event as well. Yet, there was one exception this time. The EaP Civil Society Fellows were not only among observers but delegates and keynote speakers as well.
Former and current Fellows willingly share their thoughts on the event, on what it brought and lacked, on the importance of the Forum for the civil society organizations in the region.
Dumitru Alaiba, MP of Moldova, keynote speaker, Fellowship alumnus 2017, Moldova
Dumitru Alaiba participated in the last year forum in Tbilisi as a delegate of his NGO which deals with anti-corruption issues. He says this platform is a place where the EU communicates with civil society leaders from this region. He is sure that each person who was invited should be proud of what they are doing as it is a pure indication of being recognized as a leading civil society organization.
“The event helps to create mutual support and solidarity among like-minded people from our region. It is very important to support and encourage each other, exchange ideas. Countries from the region have very similar problems: human rights, rule of law, justice, corruption, transparency, mass media, etc.”
Dumitru says by delivering a keynote speech at the forum he was aiming at encouraging colleagues. He believes that he is a sort of politician who can support “movements from civil society” but acknowledges that “soon or late everybody will make a jump from an NGO to an official position”.
“If you want to produce changes it is OK to be a part of the civil society but also to jump to the other side for a while. You are provided with certain power by people of your country and it gives you a bit different motivation. You can take action. We are speaking about fresh blood politics. If you look around in our country then where is that fresh blood if not in civil society?”
Yaroslav Minkin, NGO representative (STAN), delegate, Fellowship alumnus 2019, Ukraine
It is the third time Yaroslav Minkin participated at the forum and “votes for changes and better decisions”. He admits that for the very first time he was skeptical of it and regarded it as a formal event without any sense and influence. But then by further participation, he became “a person who actually changes rules, strategy, important direction.”
“For me this platform is symbol of the unity of different active structures, organizations, people from Eastern Partnership countries who try to find solutions for the whole region, their own countries, to monitor implementation of deliverables from the EU. But above all, it is about people to people contact, about cooperation on the regional level, finding partners, and friends.”
Such forums are about empowering new generations and civil society sector in general to influence processes in the EaP region, — he says.
Victoria Isac, NGO representative (Center for Training and Educational Development), observer, Fellowship alumna 2019, Moldova
Victoria Isac says participation at the EaP CSF was a great opportunity for the organization she represents. She specifically got impressed by delivered speeches about the results of 10 years-long activities within the Forum.
“I met important people that inspired me via huge impact they have in their countries while promoting human rights, fighting with corruption. The speakers of the Forum shared the results of 10 years of Partnership which are great. I am personally grateful for the EU support through all the projects especially EaP SC Facility in helping the citizens from the Eastern Partnership countries to have a better life.”
This article was produced by Ismayil Fataliyev, the Project’s local correspondent and EaP Civil Society Fellow from Azerbaijan in the framework of the EU-funded ‘Eastern Partnership Civil Society Facility – Regional Actions’ Project. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Ismayil Fataliyev and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the Project.
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