The Steering Committee (SC) of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) meeting on April 4-5 and on June 12-13, 2013 discussed the issue of providing an opportunity for the civil society organisations (CSOs) from the conflict areas of the EaP region to attend the Assembly of the CSF in Chisinau in October 4-5 2013.
One of the options considered was the establishment of special delegate status for applicants identifying themselves as "organisations from the EaP region, rather than from a specific EaP country. However during the discussion a statement was made by the Azerbaijani National Platform insisting, that CSOs from the EaP region, who applied for the participation in the CSF Assemblies could only be selected as members of a national delegation of one of the 6 partner countries. In the exchange of opinions which followed it became clear that some members of the SC insisted that if this principle is adopted, it should equally apply to CSOs from all conflict areas. Others argued that even if a CSO from one conflict area could not attend, because of the position of certain national platform, it should not be an obstacle for attendance by CSOs from other conflict areas. It proved impossible to reach a consensus (the SC having decided not to take a decision by majority vote). As a consequence no solution allowing civil society organization from conflict regions of the EaP to be selected as delegates to the CSF assembly was found at this stage.
Nevertheless, the SC intends to keep this issue on its agenda and hopes that successive SCs will continue to look for a solution. The fact is that CSOs from the conflict areas are unable to participate in annual events of the CSF and thus be actively engaged in the efforts of their colleagues from the EaP region, through no fault of their own but only because of political tensions. This is a matter of concern for the Forum.
The SC stresses that its initiative in this matter in no way sought to take any side in the conflicts, it is concerned to resolve the problem of the isolation of CSOs which have been
cut off from the mainstream of civil society activities within the EaP.
This is all the more relevant in the light of the recent adoption of a report by Euronest , which brings together parliamentarians from the European Union and the EaP countries. This included a recommendation in Paragraphs 27 and 28 which urged the Eastern European partners to:
" implement quality education programmes that will help eradicate ethnic, territorial and religious hatred and enmity, and strengthen the respect for the rights of minorities; considers that intercultural and inter-religious dialogues should be further enhanced in order to favour mutual understanding, respect and tolerance among the Eastern European partners; stresses, in this regard, the importance of strong and active civil societies which can strengthen such dialogues and develop people-to-people contacts across borders and conflict lines; calls on the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum to further engage in the implementation of the Eastern Partnership multilateral and bilateral
activities pursuing this objective;"
The report also " Recommends to the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum to initiate media training programmes with professional European journalist organizations which would combat mutual animosity and hate speech and ensure professional standards when covering inter ethnic relations and call for support to independent think tanks
cooperating on the development of models to ensure security, conflict resolution and prevention;"(Resolution on the regional security challenges in Eastern European partner countries, passed on May 28 2013)
The Steering Committee of the EaP CSF