IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Reaction of the EaP CSF Steering Committee to the Riga Summit Joint Declaration
22 May 2015
The Steering Committee (SC) of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) welcomed that the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga has reaffirmed the importance of democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms as the core of the Eastern Partnership. However, the SC is concerned that the Summit did not reflect on the growing unfavourable environment for civil society activities in EaP countries and insufficient opportunities for the civil society to contribute to reforms. We call on the EU an EaP governments to improve this situation.
SC regrets that the Summit declaration did not meet the expectations of the Georgian, Moldovan and Ukrainian people on their countries’ right to apply for EU membership under Article 49 TEU reiterated in the conclusions of EaP Civil Society Conference.
We welcome that the EU recognises positive contribution of EaP countries in different security cooperation areas, including CSDP operations and energy security. However, we urge the EU to make more efforts on strengthening security of the EaP countries which affects the security of the Union itself
We welcome the Summit’s recognition of engaging all levels of society in turning the Eastern Partnership vision into reality. As the voice of society at large, civil society representatives should be invited to address directly heads of states and governments at future Eastern Partnership Summits.
The EaP CSF Steering Committee regrets that the issue of political prisoners was not mentioned in the declaration. It is unacceptable that opposition and CSOs representatives are imprisoned for political reasons in the EaP countries. Human rights are universal and inalienable. We urge EU and EaP governments to develop adequate and flexible human rights protection mechanisms, in particular in conflict regions. We also call for actions to secure the release of EaP countries’ citizens taken political hostages by Russia.
We welcome the Summit’s commitment to supporting media freedom and encourage EU and EaP states to proactively address propaganda. Bearing in mind that the Russian speaking population in Eastern Partnership countries, as well as in the EU member states, is vulnerable to the constant Kremlin media manipulation, which promotes fear, insecurity and aggression towards its neighbours, consistent efforts should be taken to ensure the flow of unbiased information to the citizens.
EaP CSF welcomes the Summit recognition of the role and continued support for the Forum. We commit to continue coordinating joint monitoring actions, expertise input, awareness-raising and advocacy initiatives at national, regional and European level.