Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Conference "The role and place of civil society in the strategy of the future" has been held in Minsk

Press release on the results of the Conference "The role and place of civil society in the strategy of the future"

On 11-12 April 2011, in Minsk, on the basis of the National Platform of the Civil Society Forum of the Eastern Partnership, the Conference «Role and place of civil society in the strategy of the future» has taken place. It was aimed at discussing the questions of the strategy of public-political forces in Belarus for the nearest period. A number of leading experts, analysts, politicians, and leaders of civil society organizations have taken part in the Conference.

The news about tragedy in Minsk metro has come at the end of the first day of the Conference. Opening the second day representatives of civil society honored the memory of the victims of this terrorist attack in Minsk by the Minute of silence and unanimously adopted the Resolution “About the condemnation of the act of terrorism against the Belarusian people”.

“We consider that this barbarous act of violence is directed against all citizens of the Republic of Belarus, irrespective of their political and public points of view, national and religious affiliation. Only society’s consolidated reaction can resist the perpetration of such brutal crimes” – said in the Resolution.

The basic discussion among experts concerned the strategy of actions of Belarusian democratic forces during the nearest period of time. Evaluating similarly in many respects the situation after December, 19th, experts differently viewed the prospects of possible actions aimed at changing it. In particular, Valeri Karbalevich noticed that civil society and political opposition cannot influence essentially a change of the situation in the country; therefore they should concentrate on survival and self-preservation tasks. According to an expert of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Studies (BISS), Denis Meliantsou, now civil society and the National CSF Platform of the EaP have two alternatives: either to continue the already planned work within the scope of the initiative of the Eastern Partnership, or to expand the activity of the National Platform into the political sphere and to interact with various political subjects. The director of the Center for European Transformation, Andrei Yahorau, focused attention on the necessity for civil society to start solving tasks of the national level. «The essence and purpose of the National Platform is to provide mechanisms of changes in the country. For civil society of Belarus, the Eastern Partnership should be a tool of transformations, instead of an end in itself. The National Platform should come closer to the solution of the basic problem - civil society’s participation in the dialogue about the country’s future, formation of institutions of national consent, dialogue about the vital problems for the country». A. Yahorau has proposed the National Platform to lean on the «Strategy-2012: From a dialogue inside democratic forces to a dialogue with the regime» in its movement to this purpose.

Oppositional politicians invited to participate in the Conference, have presented their point of view on the development of the political situation. Andrei Dmitriev, representing at the Conference the National Coordination Council of Democratic Forces, has marked a weak level of interaction of politicians and civil society organizations as one of the key problems to be solved in the near future. Alexander Milinkevich, the leader of the Movement «For Freedom», has noted the necessity in coordinated actions of political opposition and civil society on the basis of a joint strategy. According to Aliaksei Yanukevich, the head of the Belarusian People’s Front party, the potential of the "revolutionary" scenario for Belarus is depleted right now, and the situation can only change in the evolutionary way.

The leaders of civil society discussed the contents and implementation of the Strategy-2012 which was proposed in February 2011, and which is now widely discussed. The head of the Humanitarian Technologies Agency, philosopher Uladzimir Matskevich has noticed that the «Strategy-2012» is now the only sufficiently elaborated strategic alternative and suggested to call the offered way of movement to national consent the Strategy “We are one people!”.

Actually, the attitude to this strategy has become a basis of self-determination for the participants of the National Platform. Its supporters have formed on the basis of the National Platform a coalition in support of the Strategy “We are one people!”; some participants of the Conference have expressed their intention to discuss the idea of the declared strategy in their organizations. As an alternative to this strategy, Igor Lednik (Coordinator of the Human Rights Movement «Our Belarus») has offered to accept his resolution «Europe without dictatorships!», however he was not supported by the majority.

Together with resolution “About the condemnation of the act of terrorism against the Belarusian people” the participants of the Conference have accepted the following resolutions: “About the situation in the country after 19 December 2010”, “About civil society’s position concerning Belarus’ participation in the Eastern Partnership initiative”, “About interaction of the National Platform with all democratic forces in the country and with the wide public (Strategy “We are one people”)”.






Project funded by the European UnionEU