IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Civil Society Involvement in EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Discussed at the National Platform Meeting in Baku
On 23 December, a regular meeting of the Azerbaijani National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) took place at the NGO resource and training center in Baku.
Chairman of the Humanitarian Research Public Union Avaz Hasanov thanked the members of the National Platform (NP) for his election as the NP coordinator and informed them about the results of the 7th EaP CSF Annual Assembly, which took place on 19-22 November in Kyiv. The priorities for 2016 were presented at the meeting, while it was noted that the final version of the strategy will be presented for discussion to the members of the Platform in the near future. The main issues discussed at the meeting were the increasing role of civil society in the country, the expansion of cooperation with European institutions and the identification of areas of cooperation between civil society and the government in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.
Head of the International Eurasian Press Fund Umid Mirzayev mentioned at the meeting the objections raised by Azerbaijani National Platform during the exhibition, organized as part of the 7th Annual Assembly of the Forum, against the boundary delineation on the map presented by the Armenian delegation. The NP addressed an appeal on this matter to the Secretariat of the Forum so that such incidents do not recur in the future.
In addition to the discussion of the current state of civil society in Azerbaijan, the participants also pointed out that the government should consider civil society as the main partner in the process of European integration and be ready to cooperate. Chairman of the Public Association "Democracy Monitor" Fuad Hasanov stressed the importance of involvement of civil society in the discussion of cooperation initiatives between Azerbaijan and the European Union. Chairman of the "Foundation for Constitutional Studies" Alimammad Nuriyev spoke about the importance of the Platform’s participation in drafting the proposals for the text of the document discussed between the Azerbaijani government and the EU, and stressed that the civil society should hold these discussions in parallel with the European Union. The NP Members – Chairman of the League for Protection of Labour Rights Sahib Mammadov, Chairman of the Public Association "Social Policy Research and Analytical Investigation" Ilgar Huseynli, Chairman of the Public Association "Democratic Reformist Youth" Vyusalya Huseynova, Deputy Chairman of the "Caucasian Center for Strategic Studies" Nazim Dzhafarsoy – provided arguments for enhancing the role of local platforms in view of expanding Forum activities.
The Provision on the National Platform was discussed and it was decided to submit in future new proposals identifying issues of the membership in the Platform. There was an agreement to elect NP coordinators in working groups to create a Board in the near future and to hold the next general meeting at the beginning of 2016.
After discussing the state of health of imprisoned NP members, the participants expressed their hope that the imprisoned members of the Platform will be released on the basis of the decree of pardon published at the end of December, and that they would be able to contribute to the work of the Platform.