EU Eastern Neighbours at the Crossroads: Civil Society Forum Assesses Post-Vilnius Scenarios in European Parliament Event

EU policy-makers and civil society actors came together at the European Parliament  last week for an event organised by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and the office of Jacek Protasiewicz, Vice-President of the EP. ‘EU Eastern Neighbours at the crossroads’ saw participants assess the post-Vilnius situation in the Eastern neighbourhood and look for ways to solve geopolitical and policy dilemmas facing the region, as well as assessing the role that civil society can play in the reform process.

Welcoming participants, former EP President, MEP Jerzy Buzek stressed that the EU offer to the neighbourhood was extremely valuable – in the short-term, a visa-free regime, energy market opening, and experience exchange; in the long-term, total transformation of the countries. Buzek talked about the importance and the role of the civil society in EaP countries and expressed the support the EU is ready to give in commitment for the democratic reforms in the region.

Discussions highlighted concern over the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, Armenia’s rapprochement with Russia and where this left its relations with the EU, the challenges – internal and external – to the signing of the Association Agreement in Georgia, and the way ahead for the reform process in Moldova and the importance of signing the Association Agreement before the next elections.

Arnoldas Pranckevičius, adviser on external policies at the Cabinet of the President of the EP said the Vilnius Summit had served as a ‘wakeup call’ for the EU leaders.  In the light of the recent events in Ukraine, he spoke about a more strategic approach the EU should take when it comes to Eastern Partnership – as one of the ways to solve geopolitical and policy dilemmas facing the region.  “It is clear that the relations with Russia now need to be revised,” he said, adding he believed the aspirations of the Ukrainian people should be met.

The meeting highlighted the recommendations of the Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum to the Ukrainian authorities as well as to the EU.

The civil society participants appealed to policy makers to take into the account their voice and recommendations when constructing policies and the strategy in the Eastern Partnership region.


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