Brussels, 20 April 2021
The Ninth Ordinary Sessions of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
The Co-chairs of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) Steering Committee, Sofia Strive and Irina Sukhy, addressed the members of the European Parliament and Partner countries’ parliaments at the Session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly. In their speech, they tackled the alarming lack of distribution of anti-COVID-19 vaccines in the EaP region and highlighted the deteriorating security situation. They also raised concerns about the current repression in Belarus and the role of civil society in the peaceful change in the country. Likewise, the Co-chairs stressed the importance of environmental policies and, especially, the implementation of the European Green Deal in the EaP national strategies.
Ms Strive in her speech highlighted the importance of meaningfully including civil society in the decision-making process of the new framework of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). She also emphasised the urge for cross-border cooperation in sharing the vaccines in the EaP region, highlighting the need for the EU’s support in the distribution of vaccines.
Moreover, Ms Strive underlined the deteriorating security situation related to a number of threats to individual security such as cases of domestic violence, poverty, and unemployment, but also cyber threats, state propaganda and decreased freedom of press. State security should go hand in hand with resilience as some workers in the EaP architecture face threats from neighbours and foreign powers. Finally, Ms Strive encourages everyone to support the draft Euronest resolution with recommendations for the upcoming EaP Summit, for the sake of supporting a safer, healthier, more inclusive and more sustainable EaP.
Irina Sukhy, Co-chair of the EaP CSF Steering Committee, elaborated on the current repression in Belarus. An archaic political regime is trying to preserve the existing system, but the majority of the Belarusian population are in favour of change.
Furthermore, Ms Irina Sukhy touched upon the importance of environmental policies as one of the key processes for modernization of the EaP countries. The progress towards reducing CO2 emissions, developing renewable energy, and adapting to climate change is very slow in the region. Thus, EaP countries should have a policy of formally joining the European Green Deal and implement it into national plans, legislation and strategies. Civil society should be a key involved stakeholder at each stage of green decision making, to ensure careful policy formulation and avoid ineffective implementation.
During the First Working Session of Euronest PA, Michael Emerson, the leader of the CEPS-led «3DCFTAs» project, stressed the importance of recovery, resilience and democratisation for a post-COVID-19 Eastern Partnership. Moreover, Mr Emerson highlighted the urgent need for accelerated COVID-19 vaccination in the region, referring to the Joint Letter sent to EU leaders by the representatives of civil society and endorsed by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.