The members of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum met in Brussels on 1-2 February for their first meeting of this year to define the main priorities of the Forum and to adopt the annual plan for 2017.
The meeting began addressing two major issues concerning the Eastern Partnership. The SC decided to release a joint letter with other NGOs to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn regarding the visit of the Azerbaijani President to Brussels and to organise at the European Parliament an event dedicated to the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. The SC also issued a statement on situation in the Donbass region in Ukraine, in which it demands that the Russian Federation ceases hostilities immediately and strictly complies with the ceasefire.
The first meeting of the year saw the election of the Co-Chairs of the Steering Committee. Dovile Sukyte of Eastern Europe Study Centre and Hennadyi Maksak of Ukrainian Prism took their roles of Co-Chairs.
During the meeting, the Steering Committee discussed the timeline and the selection procedure of participants for the 9th Annual Assembly of the Forum.
The Steering Committee had discussion with a number of external guests from the EU institutions. Boris Iarochevitch, Head of Eastern Partnership, Regional Cooperation and OSCE Division at the EEAS, provided an overview of the EaP events that will take place in 2017 and outlined the role of the civil society in the EaP deliverables for 2020 developed by the European Commission and the European External Action Service. Sinziana Poiana, responsible for civil society support at DG NEAR highlighted the Forum’s contribution to the thematic priorities of the Eastern Partnership. Tina Ilsen, Deputy Director of the Estonian Centre for the Eastern Partnership, mostly focused on presenting the vision of the Estonian presidency in organising the EaP Civil Society Conference in Tallinn. The meeting with Ms. Ilsen also involved discussions on a possible future cooperation.