The 7th EaP CSF Annual Assembly held on 19-21 November in Kyiv has attracted over 250 participants, observers and guests who attended more than 20 sessions of different formats focusing on the most topical issues for the EaP civil society.
Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the Steering Committee Member Mikayel Hovhannisyan and Iryna Sushko representing the Ukrainian National Platform opened one of the major civil society events held this year under the title “Moving Reforms Forward in Testing Times”. “Everyone benefits when civil society is strong, proactive and independent. Democratic governments know they are stronger when they listen to you,” said Commissioner Hahn, adding that the EU had substantially increased its financial support through the Neighbourhood Civil Society Facility, benefiting more than 200 organisations across the region.
The Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk emphasised the importance of maintaining the dialogue between the civil society and the Ukrainian Government: "We need the help of civil society when the Government takes difficult decisions. And I am asking for such help."
Mikayel Hovhannisyan described the duality of the current state of the EaP: "one EaP - for governments and the other - for societies". He highlighted that "the closer these two are to each other, the more synchronised they are, the better it is. Harmonisation of the EaPs is one of the major tasks of the civil society in general and the CSF in particular."
ENP review was featuring prominently on the agenda. The speech of DG NEAR Deputy Director-General Katarína Mathernová highlighting the major points of the ENP review provoked an interesting debate. According to the EaP CSF representatives, the revised ENP is not ambitious enough and does not carry a strong message or response to the current challenges. It provides weak incentive for the countries that have to work hard and implement demanding reforms.