IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Forum co-Chairs welcome opportunity to monitor implementation of Eastern Partnership roadmap
23 July 2012
The two co-Chairs of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum were invited to attend the EU-EaP Ministerial Meeting on 23 July 2012, and invited Eastern Partner governments and EU Delegations in the partner countries to the Civil Society Forum annual event in Stockholm, Sweden, on 29-30 November 2012.
In a statement made to the EU-Eastern Partners ministerial meeting, held in Brussels on 23 July 2012 to sign a joint statement on the roadmap to the autumn 2013 EaP summit, the co-Chairs of the CSF Steering Committee, Ihor Kohut and Jeff Lovitt, welcomed the increased engagement with both EU and Eastern Partnership governments in the governmental platforms and ministerial meetings through the extension of permanent participant status for the CSF.
Ihor Kohut, who spoke on behalf of the CSF at the meeting, said: "Civil society actors are well-placed to take up the role as independent watchdogs, monitoring and evaluating the effective use of resources, and observance and strengthening of democratic reforms, human rights, and the rule of law."
According to the statement, "it is not acceptable to have any political prisoners in the Eastern Partnership countries, and we call for the unconditional release of all. On 26 June 2012, the Council of Europe called for resolution of the cases of more than 80 political prisoners in Azerbaijan alone, and we must not forget that next week marks the anniversary of the imprisonment of Ales Bialiatski, a courageous human rights defender in Belarus."
The CSF is planning to undertake election observation missions in the forthcoming parliamentary elections taking place in 2012 in Belarus, Georgia, and Ukraine, and the Forum called for the establishment in all six partner countries of trilateral fora for regular consultations with the respective partner government, the EU delegation, and representatives of the national platforms of the CSF. These fora should consider, assess, and monitor implementation of, policy developments in relations between the EU and the respective partner countries, and public consultations should be held to reach out to all sectors of civil society and the wider public.
Ihor Kohut told the ministers that the annual Forum event, to take place in Stockholm, Sweden on 29-30 November, will include a debate to assess the first six months of the roadmap, as well as in-depth sessions on elections, media freedom, and the fight against corruption. He confirmed that the Forum would welcome the attendance of high-level representatives of the partner governments, as well as the heads of the EU Delegations in the six partner countries.