EaP CSF Newsletter

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In this Newsletter

The year started with a heated campaign around new charges, brought against the imprisoned Azerbaijani blogger, Mehman Huseynov. The Steering Committee was quick to support the Azerbaijani National Platform in their call for his immediate and unconditional release. Although the charges were eventually dropped, in part due to street protests and mass mobilisation, there are still over 100 political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

This month, the Steering Committee also urged the international community to pay attention to the situation in Moldova, as the country gets ready for Parliamentary elections. Addressing the EU Foreign Affairs Council, we launched an appeal on the situation in the Sea of Azov – and the unresolved issue of 24 Ukrainian servicemen, captured last November.

We look forward to the 10th anniversary of the EaP policy and the run-up to high-level events planned for May. Civil society is seen as a key partner in delivering tangible results and must be recognised for their work, confirmed EU stakeholders during the first SC meeting of this year. As we prepare for the celebrations, we expect an interesting debate on the newly published EaP Index. Its Brussels launch promises to shed light on the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Moldova and other important developments in the region.

The final list of selected projects under this year's Working Groups (WG) Re-granting Scheme is now out – as usual, we are proud to support a wide and diverse range of initiatives. For the first time ever, we are also running a Re-granting Scheme to National Platforms (NP) and we look forward to finalising the process in March. Stay posted – and find all the confirmed dates for WG and EaP Platforms and Panels meetings down below!

News from EaP CSF

Register NOW: Eastern Partnership Index Brussels Launch (Lithuanian Perm Rep to the EU, 26 February 2019, 9.00-13.00)

On Tuesday, 26 February 2019, we will present the latest edition of our flagship publication, EaP Index at the Lithuanian Permanent Representation to the EU in Brussels.

For more than five years, EaP Index has brought leading experts working on the EaP region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, to analyse a series of indicators, charting the progress towards European integration, democratic reforms and sustainable development. The Index's Brussels launch comes two days after the much-anticipated Parliamentary election in Moldova, one of the backsliding countries. Please do not forget to register – you can sign up here.

WG Re-granting Scheme 2019: Final List of Selected Projects is Out

In 2019, in the framework of the WG Re-granting scheme, the Secretariat received 39 proposals, out of which 31 passed the eligibility screening. After the evaluation process, 13 projects were selected by the WG Selection Committees and DG NEAR.

We are glad to have 48 organisations participating this year, spread out across all six EaP countries and five WGs, with partners from the EU – Latvia, Poland and Romania. The topics cover issues as diverse as human rights monitoring, gender mainstreaming and youth unemployment, to give just a few examples. You can access the full list here.


The Steering Committee Discusses Priorities for This Year, With the Upcoming 10th EaP Anniversary in Mind

Taking 10th anniversary as a point of departure, the Steering Committee addressed the key issues for 2019 – at their first meeting of the year in Brussels on 6-7 February 2019. Moreover, the Steering Committee discussed the recent developments in the region, issuing three statements: on political prisoners in Azerbaijan, the upcoming Parliamentary elections in Moldova and the situation on the Sea of Azov (scroll down to know more).

Article – Steering Committee Meeting (Brussels, 6-7 February 2019)

EaP Panel on Harmonisation of Digital Markets (HDM): Civil Society Recommendations Address Strategic Approaches, Communications and Gender

The first EaP Platform and Panel meeting of the year, 4th EaP Panel on Harmonisation of Digital Markets (HDM) on 7 February 2019 in Brussels, brought together experts on cyber-resilience, roaming and broadband, as well as other issues, encompassed by EU4Digital Networks.

Speaking on behalf of EaP CSF, Mikhail Doroshevich (Baltic Internet Policy Initiative, Belarus) and Maksym Koriavets (Polissya Foundation for International and Regional Studies, Ukraine) delivered a presentation, and set out a number of recommendations on digital skills, gender equality and broadband infrastructure – with additional written input by Marianne Sakalova (Baltic Internet Policy Initiative).

What is more, the Panel drafted a joint resolution, to be adopted at the upcoming 3rd EaP Ministerial Meeting on Digital Economy in Bucharest on 28 February 2019.

Article – HDM Panel (Brussels, 7 February 2019)
Recommendations – HDM Panel in Brussels
Presentation – HDM Panel in Brussels


Despite a Positive Outcome on Mehman Huseynov, Political Prisoners and Reports of Torture Continue to Undermine Azerbaijan's Human Rights Record

In early January, the Steering Committee released a statement supporting the Azerbaijani National Platform in their call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mehman Huseynov. The new charges against Huseynov were dropped, but there are still reports of torture and the number of political prisoners in Azerbaijan goes over a hundred, we can read in the follow-up statement – released after EU-Azerbaijan Human Rights Dialogue, held in Baku on 5-6 February 2019.

SC Statement – Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan
SC and Azerbaijani NP Statements – Free Mehman

Watch the Situation in Moldova Closely, Urges the Steering Committee, as the Country Approaches Parliamentary Elections

The Steering Committee issued a statement on Moldova – addressing the situation before the Parliamentary elections, scheduled for 24 February 2019. The message coming from civil society is clear: “we call on Moldova’s judicial and electoral institutions to ensure that the country’s citizens will be able to fully exercise their democratic rights”. Already now, there are reports of hate speech, intimidation and misuse of public resources, point out both domestic and international electoral observers.

SC Statement – Situation in Moldova, Ahead of Parliamentary Elections

The Steering Committee Issues an Appeal to EU Foreign Affairs Council on the Azov Sea, Pointing to Violations of Maritime Law and Russia's International Commitments

Ahead of its meeting, the Steering Committee appealed to EU Foreign Affairs Council, as well as the foreign ministers of EU member states – to act on the current situation, instigated by the crisis on the Azov Sea. There is a need for two-way action: targeted sanctions against entities responsible for the aggression and those profiting from its consequences, on one hand – and targeted EU support to the Azov region, to address "the economic damage caused by the de facto Russian blockade".

SC Appeal – Situation on the Sea of Azov

EaP CSF Belarusian National Platform Adopts Resolutions on Priorities for Civil Society, Ostrovets Nuclear Plant and Remarks on Belarusian Sovereignty

Earlier on 26 January 2019, EaP CSF Belarusian National Platform reconvened in Minsk to address its strategy for 2019-2021 and other priorities for the coming years. Other key documents adopted at the conference include a resolution, calling for a halt to the works at the Ostrovets Nuclear Power Plant – and a statement against the increasing threats against Belarus' independence, made by the Russian leadership.

Belarusian NP Statements – Priorities for CSOs, Ostrovets Power Plant and Threats to Belarusian Sovereignty


EaP CSF Points to Serious Obstacles in Implementing European High Education Area (EHEA) Tools in Belarus, Following an In-Depth Analysis of Work Plan 2018

EaP CSF, its Ad Hoc Belarusian National Platform Committee and Belarusian Independent Bologna Committee (BIBC) have just released a Report on Meeting the Targets of the Work Plan for Implementing European High Education Area (EHEA) Tools in Belarus, referred to as “Work Plan 2018”.

The paper coincides with the Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) Meeting on 12 February 2019 – in an in-depth 20 point analysis, the report finds that the original “tasks and targets were not ambitious and could not instigate significant reform of the higher education system”.

Report – Meeting the Targets of 2018 Work Plan: Implementing European Higher Education Area (EHEA) Tools in Belarus

Members Corner

Call for Registration: EaP CSF Database of Experts

Would you like to contribute to the Forum – with your skills, knowledge and expertise, by taking part in EaP Platforms and Panels multilateral meetings? Register in our online experts database and share your expertise with the EU and EaP stakeholders!

Join more than 200 members who have already registered!

Register here (3-5 mins)

Must-read of the Month

Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center: Freedom of Movement in Azerbaijan

Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center issued an assessment report on the freedom of movement in Azerbaijan and politically motivated travel bans. The report describes bans imposed on 30 people: journalists, lawyers and civil society representatives, among others – but the real number could be much higher.

Report – EMDS Freedom of Movement in Azerbaijan

Transparency International: Corruption Perceptions Index 2018

Transparency International 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index is out – what does it reveal about the Eastern Partnership countries and wider region? This year's CPI2018 carries a warning: "many democratic institutions and norms across the region are currently under threat, often from authoritarian rule".

Report – TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018

Events and Planned Meetings

  • 6-7 February: Steering Committee Meeting (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 7 February: 4th HDM – Harmonisation of Digital Markets Panel (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 19 February: Platform 1 Meeting (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 20 February: EaP LNG – Liquefied Natural Gas Network Meeting and 1st Workshop (Warsaw, Poland)
  • 26 February: EaP Index Brussels Launch (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 28 February: 3rd Ministerial Meeting on Digital Economy (Bucharest, Romania)
  • 13 March: Platform 3 Meeting (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 27-28 March: Working Group 4 Meeting (Brussels, Belgium) 
  • 2 April: EaP Energy Ministerial (Bucharest, Romania)
  • 3-5 April: EU-Ukraine Civil Society Platform (Lviv, Ukraine)
  • 4 April: Platform 2 Meeting (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 9 April: Platform 4 Meeting (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 14 May: 10th Anniversary of EaP Policy Initiative (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 21 May: EU-Moldova Civil Society Platform (Brussels, Belgium)
  • 5-6 June: EU-Georgia Civil Society Platform (Tbilisi, Georgia)
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Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

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*This Newsletter was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.