3rd General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum

The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum 3rd General Assembly (after Prague and Warsaw in 2011) took place in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In SOKOS Olympia Garden hotel gathered some 100 representatives of non-governmental organisations (app. 50 from Russia, 40 from the EU Member States and 10 international), diplomatic missions to Russia and European Union institutions.

During the two day summit, plenary discussion panels were held,  dedicated to the current state of play in EU-Russia relations, human rights situation in Russia and recent actions of Russian authorities against civil society organisations. Among panellists were representatives of NGOs, academics and  the European institutions’ officials.

The perspectives of the ongoing cooperation within Forum as well as statements and policy papers were discussed and elaborated during the Working Groups’ sessions. Krzysztof Mrozek, representing the Stefan Batory Foundation (a coordinating member of the Visa-free Europe Coalition), worked in the Working Group 4, Democratic Structures and Processes. The Group aimed at three most important areas in the spectrum of its interest: Visa policy, Election monitoring and Effective civilian control of police (and other law enforcement formations).

Working Group IV, Democratic Structures and Processes

During the Working Group activities, Krzysztof Mrozek co-created the policy paper enhancing Forum’s recommendations in the area of visa policy, namely: to depoliticize visa liberalisation process, include civil society actors in the visa dialogue, enhance facilities in the visa issuance processes on further groups of travellers, etc. The policy paper is planned to be adopted before the December’s EU-Russia Summit.

The representative of the Batory Foundation proposed and introduced the discussion on the statement of the General Assembly on the request to Russian authorities and the European Commission to disclose the bilateral document: Common Steps towards Visa-free Short-term Travel.

During the Forum, representative of the Batory Foundation established contacts with new possible members of the Visa-free Europe Coalition, from Russia and Germany. It is planned to intensify Coalition’s involvement in Russia.