On 5-7 December 2022, we gathered in Prague for the 14th EaP CSF Annual Assembly “Resilient Civil Society for a More Ambitious Eastern Partnership”. This was the first in-person gathering after three long and hard years of the Covid-19 pandemic which forced most of our lives and work into a virtual space. However, this time we met during another devastating humanitarian crisis and increased security, energy and financial pressure on the international community caused by the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. Additionally, the Eastern Partnership policy is entering a new phase and should be revised to deliver to the new challenges the EaP and EU are facing.
The 2022 Annual Assembly brought together over 270 delegates, observers, decision-makers and guests from the Eastern Partnership and the European Union institutions and countries and we discussed the current challenges, the future shape of Eastern Partnership multilateral cooperation, the role of civil society and how to ensure its future resilience.
It was wonderful to be connected again, to catch up with the old friends and to make new connections, to discuss current challenges and strategies on how to face and overcome them, exchange experiences, and to learn from each other.
Our diverse programme offered several lively and engaging panel debates, thematic discussions, workshops, documentary screening, photo exhibition, musical performance and plenty of networking opportunities.
We hope you all enjoyed the Annual Assembly 2022, whether you attended in person or followed our event online, and that it provided you with additional support, energy and inspiration towards achieving our common goal of a strong and independent civil society, democracy and European integration in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine!
5 December 2022
Day 1 – Arrivals and registration of participants
17:30 – 18:00 - Welcome remarks (Czech Parliament)
● Markéta Pekarová Adamová, President, Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic
● Ana Furtună, Director, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
● Irina Sukhy, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
18:00 – 21:00 - EaP CSF Award ceremony followed by reception (Czech Parliament)
The EaP CSF Award is an honorary award for civil society organisations and activists that recognises leadership and achievements in upholding EU fundamental values and principles in the EaP region.
- Irina Sukhy, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
- Sintija Bernava, Member of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
- Jaroslav Kurfürst, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
- Małgorzata Łatkiewicz-Pawlak, EaP Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Poland
6 December 2022
08:45 - 09:00 - Welcome remarks (room Sun I + II)
Introduction to the Annual Assembly
Everything you need to know about the next two days and can’t afford to miss it.
09:00 - 09:10 - Welcome remarks (room Sun I + II)
● Ana Furtună, Director, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
● Jaroslav Kurfürst, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
09:10 - 09:30 - Opening speeches ( Room Sun I + II)
- Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, European Commission (video-address)
- Stefano Sannino, Secretary General, European External Action Service (video-address)
- Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Leader, Democratic Belarus (video address)
- Nicola Beer, Vice-President, European Parliament
- Ana-Otilia Nutu, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
09:30 - 11:00 - Panel Debate: a stronger Eastern Partnership that withstands war (Room Sun I + II)
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine coupled with the European Council’s decision to grant EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, and the EU perspective to Georgia marked a new phase in Eastern Partnership policy.
The EaP region evolved into a multi-speed one, with the 6 EaP countries having different ambitions vis-à-vis the EU, but facing common challenges. Regardless of the stage of their EU integration ambitions, all EaP countries need a renewed policy offer that draws lessons from the past, acknowledges the changed political context, including the variety of threats coming from Russia, and meets the expectations of the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine – a policy fit for challenging times that delivers for all and leaves no room for EaP partnership fatigue.
What will be the priorities of the revised EaP policy? How will EaP countries benefit from it? What areas of cooperation should be prioritised and why? How can the EaP support mitigating the effects of Russia’s war in Ukraine?
● Dirk Schuebel, Special Envoy for Eastern Partnership, European External Action Service (EEAS)
● Veronika Movchan, Academic Director, Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting (IER)
● Lasha Tugushi, Director, Liberal Academy Tbilisi
● Valery Matskevich, Member of the Belarusian Coordination Council for Eastern Partnership
● Mikhayel Hovhannissian, Program Director, Eurasia Partnership Foundation
● Tania Marocchi, Policy and Advocacy Manager, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (moderator)
11:00 - 11:30 - Networking break
11:30 - 13:00 - Panel Debate: strengthening energy security through EaP multilateral cooperation (Room Sun I + II)
There are few sectors where the interests of the EaP and the EU are more closely aligned than energy, heavily weaponised by Russia in recent months in an attempt to break EU cohesion. Ukraine and Moldova need strong support from the EU to ensure their energy security over the winter. Azerbaijan is critical to the energy security of the most vulnerable EU members to Russian gas supplies but the human rights situation in the country remains dire and fears have been mounting about trading gas with human rights. Furthermore, the energy crisis risks favouring anti-democratic forces, feeding populism and extremism in both the EU and EaP.
How can the EU and EaP work together to strengthen energy security in the continent? How can the risks of energy-crisis induced democratic backsliding be avoided? How can the momentum be used for a shift to renewables, efforts for energy efficiency, and decarbonisation? How can we avoid replacing one dependence (on Russian supplies) with another dependence (on China’s supplies for the renewable industries)?
- Ana Otilia Nuțu, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and Policy analyst on energy and infrastructure, Expert Forum
- Nicholas Cendrowicz, Deputy Head of Unit, DG NEAR, European Commission (online)
- Olena Pavlenko, President, DIXI Group (online)
- Giorgi Mukhigulishvili, Lead Researcher on Energy and Climate Change, World Experience for Georgia
- Anna Gumbau, Journalist (moderator)
13:00 - 14:00 - Networking lunch
14:00 - 15:30 - Parallel thematic sessions (Rooms: Sun I + II; Jupiter; Uranus)
Security cooperation in the EaP: resisting authoritarian regimes and strengthening resilience (Room – Sun I + II)
Dictatorial regimes inside and outside the EaP region are jeopardising its security, cooperating to the detriment of their own citizens and their neighbours. Mass and targeted surveillance, deliberate internet and network disruptions, state sponsored propaganda and hate speech, disinformation and online censorship are only some of the techniques used to oppress their citizens and destabilise their neighbours in their favours.
How can pro-democracy CSOs fight back and how can their fight be supported? How can resilience to dictatorial regimes be strengthened? How can regional cooperation under the EaP umbrella facilitate the work of pro-democratic CSOs?
- Dmytro Tuzhanskyi, Fellow and Project Manager for Ukraine and Eastern Europe Programme, GLOBSEC
- Mikhail Doroshevich, Executive Director, Baltic Internet Policy Initiative
- Kakha Gogolashvili, Director of the Centre of EU Studies at Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS)
- Arzu Geybullayeva, Founder Azerbaijan Internet Watch
- Olga Chyzhova, Communication Director, Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism” (moderator)
Eastern Partnership Stress Test: Between Plans and Realities (Room – Jupiter)
The EaP policy has been put under a stress test by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and a series of domestic and external crises in the partner countries. As the EaP adjusts to accommodate multi-speed partners, how can it cope best with deepening differentiation? How can the relevance and effectiveness of the five EaP priorities be assessed in these mutated circumstances? Are financial objectives and instruments of the EaP still adequate?
- Hennadiy Maksak, Executive Director, Foreign Policy Council “Ukrainian Prism”
- Mihai Mogildea, Team Leader, Institute of European Policies (IPRE)
- Irakli Porchkhidze, Vice President, Georgian Institute for Strategic Studies (GISS)
- Andrei Kazakevich, Director, Institute of Political Studies ‘Political Sphere’
- Velina Tkacharova, Director, Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy (AIES)
- David Cullen, Head of Unit for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus & Eastern Partnership Coordination, DG NEAR, European Commission
Green reconstruction in the EaP – addressing the environmental impact of the war in a sustainable way (Room – Uranus)
Organised in cooperation with the Association for International Affairs (AMO)
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has created massive environmental and infrastructural damage, with consequences for Ukraine but also its EaP and EU neighbours. Ukraine’s recovery should not be a return to the pre-war status but a full-fledged development and integration into the European Community based on sustainable development principles taking into account the European Green Deal. How should green reconstruction look like? What space is there for cooperation between Ukraine and its neighbours as well in the wider region of Eastern Europe?
- Ruslan Havrylyuk, Chair, National Environmental Council of Ukraine (NECU)
- Nataliya Andrusevych, Head of the Board, Resource and Analysis Center “Society and Environment”
- Irina Sukhy, Co-Chair, Steering Committee, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and Coordinator, EaP CSF Belarusian National Platform
- Iuliana Cantaragiu, Expert, National Environmental Centre
- Gregory Tsouris, Green Deal Counsellor, European Union Delegation to Ukraine (online)
- Pavel Havlíček, Research Fellow, Association for International Affairs (AMO) (moderator)
15:30 - 16:00 - Networking break
16:00 - 18:00 - Workshops
• [EN] Burnout prevention for civil society organisations in stressful situations – room Jupiter
• [RU] Burnout prevention for civil society organisations in stressful situations – room Earth
• [EN] Cybersecurity for CSOs – room Mercury
• [RU] Cybersecurity for CSOs – room Mars
• [EN] How to foster stakeholder relations and collaboration for peacebuilding and peacekeeping in the Eastern Partnership countries – room Sun I + II
• [RU] How to foster stakeholder relations and collaboration for peacebuilding and peacekeeping in the Eastern Partnership countries – room Uranus
18:15 - 19:00 - Movie screening “Transformation” (Ukraine, 23 min) followed by a discussion with movie directors
- Maksym Cherkashyn, Movie Director, Head of Educationally-Analytical Centre for Community Development NGO (EACCD), Ukraine
- Mariia Pachkovska, Movie Co-producer
19:00 - 21:00 - Networking reception
20:00 - Photo exhibitions of the two Ukrainian photojournalists - Maks Levin and Konstantyn Reutsky
7 December 2022
08:45 - 09:00 - Introduction to the day (Room Sun I + II)
Everything you need to know about the last day and can’t afford to miss it.
09:00 - 09:10 - Welcome remarks (Room Sun I + II)
• Jan Lipavský, Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
09:10 - 10:45 - Panel Debate: Support to civil society in the EaP countries in light of new developments (Room Sun I+ II)
EaP CSOs have suffered more and more hits since the last Annual Assembly. EU institutions and others consider civil society more and more as a key player in the democratisation process. Irrespective of where the EaP countries are in their route towards the EU (or Rule of Law more in general), CSO is the constant, withstanding antidemocratic forces inside and outside national borders.
To deliver on a renewed set of objectives, the EaP multilateral framework should favour the setup of new agile formats that facilitate regional cooperation and dialogue while strengthening the joint ownership of the partnership and the need to continuously engage with civil society. As a constant of the policy, the latter should become an equal reform partner and a recognised agenda setter with a specifically assigned role within the renewed policy.
How can we ensure an enhanced role for the civil society in the revised EaP policy, a role that would ensure adequate access and participation in the policy shaping and decision-making processes? What challenges are CSOs facing in light of new developments? What support do CSOs need in these mutated circumstances? How can their resilience be fostered?
- Tamar Khidasheli, Director, Democracy Research Institute
- Veronica Crețu, Envoy, Open Government Partnership
- Shahla Ismayil, Chairperson, The Women’s Association for Rational Development (WARD)
- David Cullen, Head of Unit for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus & Eastern Partnership Coordination (NEAR.C.2), DG NEAR, European Commission
- Alexandra Sabou, Advocacy and EaP Index Manager, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (moderator)
10:45 - 11:00 - Networking break
11:00 - 11:55 - Czech and Swedish Presidencies – symbolic handover (Room Sun I+ II)
The Czech Presidency of the Council of the European Union is drawing to a close after an eventful six months and Sweden is about to take over for their term. What has been achieved in the last six months? What upcoming priorities and plans for the region will come next?
• Jan Marian, Special Envoy for Eastern Partnership, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic
• Christina Johannesson, EaP Ambassador, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Sweden of Sweden
11:55 - 12:00 - Closing remarks (Room Sun I + II)
• Ana Furtună, Director, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
• Ana Otilia Nutu, Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum
12:00 - 13:00 - Farewell lunch
13:00 - Time for sightseeing and departures
Thanks and acknowledgments
We would like to express our gratitude to our partners and donors for their contribution to our Annual Assembly. The content of this event is the sole responsibility of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.