The symbolism of 100th anniversary of national independence for five Eastern Partnership countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine, invites for self-reflection and re-evaluation not only in the Eastern Partnership, but also in the European Union and its wider, future context. This historical date is a litmus test for the systemic struggle in the Eastern Partnership countries, which are locked between democracy and authoritarian regimes. At the same time, one year before 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership policy initiative, and halfway to milestone year 2020 with its 20 Deliverables, the time is ripe for the European Union to take a serious look at its policies in the region. The principles underpinning Eastern Partnership remain as relevant as ever, but today’s geopolitical challenges require more ambitious approaches and greater engagement of citizens in securing the democratic rights and freedoms supported and promoted by the European Union.

Together with civil society partners from the region, the Annual Assembly addressed the question of how to further sustainable, democratic development and support European Union’s commitment to the Eastern Partnership policy initiative. What is more, recent developments show that we need to engage with citizens and counter the authoritarian backlash, evident in some parts of the region, united as a whole. The participants learnt more about campaigning and advocacy strategies, not only to maximise pressure but also to foster constructive engagement in their home countries and abroad. In light of 100th anniversary of independent Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine, the three-day event furthermore explored how these countries’ historical experience had influenced their political trajectories.