Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs invited the 6 country facilitators to visit
Stockholm to discuss the formulation and anchoring of initiatives and
organisation of civil society input. The meetings were held with government officials and
representatives of Swedish civil society organisations.
Deputy Director-General, Head of Department for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Ms. Malena Mård said in the
invitation: Sweden has a long tradition of collaboration and consultation
between the government and civil society. In formulating public policy, the opinion of civil society is
regularly sought by the Swedish Government Offices, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs included.
Furthermore, Swedish non-governmental organisations have extensive experience
in building public opinion, mobilising civil society and crafting positions.
Many Swedish non-governmental organisations also have experience from working
with counterparts in the Eastern Partnership countries.
During the visit, CSF country
facilitators got the chance to meet with several representatives of Swedish
ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for Eastern Partnership development as
well as work with particular countries and regions. It was also a good
opportunity to present experience and plans of the EaP Civil Society Forum to
representatives of Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
This agency is not yet deeply involved in supporting EaP related projects but
might be more involved if the Swedish government gave them such a mandate.
It was also of great
Importance to meet with some Swedish NGOs who shared their experience of work
and understanding of modern local and global challenges for civil society.
Country facilitators during
these meetings paid particular attention of the following key messages:
- Sweden has played a key role in establishing and
developing the EaP. Swedish experience of influential and strong civil society is widely
well-known and highly respected. Civil society organizations involved in
EaP Civil Society Forum expect further support from Sweden in expanding
the role and strengthening the institutional position of civil society in
- Strategic debate about a Wider Europe, signals
from the EaP countries and the responsibility of the member states should
be further continued. There is a necessity for clear signals from EU
countries that EaP societies have EU membership perspective (even if it is
long-term). It can bring much more motivation and energy into the
- There is a need of further involvement of other
civil society actors into EaP activities: there is still low involvement
of trade-unions, business associations, faith-based organizations,
networks and coalitions at least. Therefore the benefits of the Eastern
Partnership should be promoted to them.
- There is also a need for greater support in
expanding the role of civil society dialogue with governments (especially
in EaP countries) within EaP process. Belarus objection in relation to
CSF participation at EaP
platforms meetings could be presented as a case which requires some
solution in favour of CSF involvement.
- Joint EaP CSO
monitoring and evaluation system and activities should be planned and
implemented as one of the key inputs into the EaP process from civil
- One of the key proposals for the EaP from the
Civil Society Forum is developing and implementing “road maps” for the
EaP, both at program level and in specific thematic areas. Specific
implementation methods should be proposed to develop and implement these
road maps with both CSOs and government officials, at national and at
- To avoid the reliance on slow and insufficient
donor co-ordination and lack of funding supporting the EaP, the idea of
establishing a special Fund from which it is possible to support EaP
cooperation projects of CSOs was presented. Practice of including EaP into
some existing programs of EU (NSA-LA, EIDHR) is good but absolutely not
enough. Non-EU funding and private donors could be also attracted to EaP
support in such a way.
- Reflecting this years experience, the Steering
Committee members strongly insist on allocating resources to establish and provide efficient work of
CSF Secretariat, which can provide day-to-day operation level for CSF
- There is some inequality/discrimination between
EU and EaP participants regarding participation in EaP CSF events. It
doesn’t mean that EaP participants will be ready to pay for their
participation but there should be some solution. EU participants should
not create different perception and status between participants.
- Flagship initiatives suggested by the Steering
Committee still needs some support as an effective tool for promoting
regional cooperation between EaP countries and EU-EaP cooperation at Civil
- The Steering Committee members found deep understanding and sincere readiness
to support Civil Society Forum development. Assessing the results of the visit,
it was possible to see clearly that Swedish MFA has got internal look of
country facilitators to Eastern Partnership and will try to take into account
their expectations and concerns in further work at governmental level supporting
further work of CSF.
event in Stockholm has also become a great opportunity for country facilitators
to coordinate their messages and agree about key priorities that are required
for the next period of Civil Society Forum work.
Concrete proposal made by
Steering Committee to Swedish government: The SCF 2012 could be hosted in
Stockholm. Swedish MFA side of the meetings has been interested to get such a
proposal and promised to think about it as one of a many opportunities to
support Civil Society Forum work.