Brussels, 26-28 May 2020
Online Steering Committee Meeting
During its online meeting on the 26th and 28th May, the Steering Committee reviewed the recent developments in the EaP region during COVID-19 and planned further activities of the Forum amidst the crisis. Member of the Steering Committee had also a fruitful exchange with European Stakeholders, who confirmed their willingness to continue cooperation with civil society.
The Steering Committee meeting started with an extensive exchange on the current situation in the EaP countries in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Armenia, the dialogue between civil society and the government has become more difficult due to the pandemic. In Azerbaijan, there have been reports of excessive use of force by the police. The situation in Belarus raises concerns in several aspects. One concern is the high number of confirmed cases of COVID-19. Other current issues in Belarus include ecological concerns regarding the launch of a nuclear plant and cases of punishment of people trying to disclose the real numbers of infected people from COVID-19.
A relatively positive situation can be noticed in Georgia where the virus has not spread as vastly as in the other countries. However, it is election year and the opposition has only limited possibilities to organise meetings and their pre-election campaign. Moldova’s state of emergency ended on the 15th of May. Restaurants, bars and hotels can open again from the 15th of June. While Ukraine resumed air traffic, the number of infected people remains one of the highest in the region.
Looking ahead the Steering Committee kicked off the discussion on the future strategic priorities of the Forum after 2020. Members of the Steering Committee also brainstormed on the possible formats of the upcoming Annual Assembly 2020. A task force for the organisation of the Annual Assembly was established.
During the meeting with stakeholders on 28th of May, representatives of Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Delegations in six EaP countries discussed the future development of the EaP policy after 2020. Our European Partners confirmed to continue supporting civil society as well as continue cooperation with EaP CSF.