From 24-27 October, the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership—together with the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF)—hosted and organized the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and 9th Annual Assembly of the EaP CSF. Held under the auspices of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the event—entitled Tangible Results for People: Envisioning the Eastern Partnership in 2020 and Beyond—focused on identifying concrete ways to improve government-civil society cooperation in order to improve the lives of people in both EU and EaP member states while advancing the broader objectives of the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy.
Beginning with a welcome address by Speaker of the Riigikogu (Estonia’s parliament) Eiki Nestor, the event featured high-level political, academic, and civil society figures ranging from Estonian president Kersti Kaljulaid and EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn to Deputy Foreign Minister of Belarus Oleg Kravchenko, Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) Foreign Affairs Committee chair Hanna Hopko, and Viasna Center head Ales Bialiatski, along with a video address from EU High Representative for Foreign policy Federica Mogherini.
In plenary and parallel sessions, speakers identified solutions for improved engagement and cooperation between the public and non-profit sectors in a variety of areas, from economic integration to environmental protection; a common theme in many discussions was the need to broaden the focus beyond national capitals and English-speakers to include young people, small business owners, and women in the full spectrum of programs offered within the Eastern Partnership.
The Civil Society Conference is held biennially as part of the preparations for the Eastern Partnership Summit of heads of state/government, which this year will take place in Brussels on November 24.
A photo gallery from the event is available here: