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EaP CSF Newsletter 

7 October 2015

For the newsletter in Russian, please click here

EaP CSF Seminar on Association Agreements and DCFTA: Lessons Learnt and Ways Ahead

On 23-25 September the EaP CSF held a capacity building seminar on the National Platforms’ (NPs) participation in Association Agreements (AAs)/Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA) implementation. During the 3 days of the event more than 60 participants took part in 5 panel discussions and 7 parallel sessions with the aim to produce recommendations on increasing the effectiveness of civil society’s involvement in the implementation process. The final report based on the developed recommendations will be published in the coming weeks.

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Presentation - Bilateral Platform and NP in Ukraine

Presentation - Bilateral and Multilateral CSO Platforms in Moldova

Presentation - Civil Society's role in DCFTA

Heidi Hautala

EaP CSF Event on EU-Belarus Relations in European Parliament

On 14 October EaP CSF is organising an event on EU-Belarus relations in cooperation with the Chair of the Delegation for relations with Belarus MEP Bogdan Zdrojewski. The discussion, which will take place after the presidential election in Belarus to be held on 11 October 2015, will seek to address a variety of challenges the country is facing. From the new geopolitical reality created by the Russian assertiveness in the region to the future of EU sanctions against Belarus and EU engagement with the Belarusian society. Please register here until 4 pm on 9 October.

Draft Agenda

Update for the Annual Assembly Attendees

This year the focus of the Annual Assembly entitled Moving Reforms Forward in Testing Times will be to debate the progress of reforms in the EaP countries and the revised European Neighbourhood Policy. The event will also provide opportunities for the CSOs from different countries to find the areas on which they can work together, express solidarity, support and learn from each other, and of course to showcase the activities of the EaP CSF in 2015, and to plan for 2016.

This time the format of the event will be different allowing for more interactive discussions in smaller groups initiated by the attendees of the event themselves: Networking Fair, CSO-led parallel sessions, stakeholders’ meetings initiated by National Platforms or Working Groups, and parallel 1-hour info/training sessions led by donors or CSOs projects.

The attendees are encouraged to be pro-active and submit proposals discussions by 12 October so that the space is filled with the themes that respond to their interests and priorities. We also expect the National Platforms and Working Groups to submit their ideas in order to fill in the agenda with the topics of their interest.

Information for Attendees

Draft Agenda

Open Letter of Co-chair Krzysztof Bobinski to European Parliamentarians Observing the Presidential Election in Belarus

In his open letter, Mr Krzysztof Bobinski, Co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum highlighted the significance of election observation missions for the proper conduct of free and fair elections in Belarus. Mr Bobinski thus called on election observers to perform their duties conscientiously by reporting their conclusions about the conduct of elections without any bias or regard for the feelings of their country’s rulers.

Open Letter of EaP CSF Co-Chair

Heidi Hautala

Steering Committee Welcomed Political Prisoners' Release in Belarus

The EaP CSF Steering Committee (SC) welcomed the decision of the Belarusian authorities to release six political prisoners – Mikalai Statkevich, Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Dziadok, Euheny Vaskovich, Arytsom Prakapenka and Yury Rubtsou.

The SC called on the Belarusian government to rehabilitate these and other former political prisoners and fully restore their civil and political rights. The SC also expressed its gratitude to those EU and member state officials who have worked hard in the past months for the release of these prisoners and called on the EU to maintain a principled approach vis-à-vis Belarus.

Steering Committee Statement

Co-chair of the EaP CSF Steering Committee Andrei Yahorau published in Belarusian Journal his article analysing the political significance and implications of the release of the most prominent political prisoner Mikalai Statkevich.

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Heidi Hautala

Steering Committee Appalled by the Court Decision in the Cases of Leyla and Arif Yunus

The Steering Committee (SC) of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, as much as the international community, is appalled by the news from Azerbaijan on the sentencing of Dr Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, historian and renowned human rights activist, and her husband, famous historian Dr Arif Yunus, who were sentenced to respectively 8.5 and 7 years in prison having been convicted of illegal business activities.

Steering Committee Statement

Belarusian National Platform Expresses Position on the Future EU-Belarus Cooperation

In the light of recent revival of EU-Belarus relations, the Belarusian NP of the EaP CSF took the opportunity to state its own position on these developments and on the possibility of further cooperation between Belarus and the EU.

The National Platform welcomed the progress in the EU-Belarus relations but stressed that the general political and human rights situation in Belarus remained unchanged, and would therefore require an assessment by a group of representatives of international organizations to be published regularly.

Belarusian National Platform Position

Armenian National Platform Reacts to Government's Initiative for Constitutional Reforms

Armenian NP of the EaP CSF issued a statement expressing its position on the decision of the Armenian government to put on referendum the revision of Armenian Constitution this December.

While acknowledging that the constitution of Armenia contains some provisions requiring certain amendments, the National Platform expresses in the statement its concern about the announced constitutional reforms and the upcoming referendum as these initiatives are considered untimely and do not correspond to the interests of the state and the society.

Armenian National Platform Statement

Vera Rihackova Joins EaP CSF Secretariat as Advocacy and Membership Manager

Before joining the EaP CSF Secretariat, Vera Rihackova worked as a Senior research fellow at EUROPEUM Institute for European Policy, a Prague-based think-tank, and as a Project development officer at DiploFoundation. In 2010-2011 and 2012-2013, she served as Member of the EaP CSF Steering Committee. Her major areas of expertise include EU foreign policy with focus on EaP countries, EU democracy assistance and EU instruments of external action.

The vacancy became available after the previous Advocacy and Membership Manager Tatiana Basarab left the EaP CSF Secretariat to take a position at the Brussels Office of the Council of Europe. We wish her every success in her future endeavours.

Upcoming EaP Panels and Platforms Meetings

5-6 October     Eastern Partnership Statistics Panel on Labour Market Statistics                                          (Tbilisi, Georgia)

6-7 October     Eastern Partnership Panel on Environment and Climate Change                                           (Brussels, Belguim)

6-8 October     Conference of the EaP Platform 4 “Mutual Learning for Better Qualifications”                         (Batumi, Georgia)

20-21 October  7th Panel on SME Policy (Odessa, Ukraine)

22 October      9th EaP Panel on Public Administration Reform (Vilnius, Lithuania)

22-23 October 14th Trade Panel (Kyiv, Ukraine)

Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Secretariat of the EaP CSF Steering Committee 

Rue de l'Industrie 10
1000 Brussels