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New EU leaders asked to recommit to Eastern Partnership

The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) has called on the incoming leaders of the European Commission and the new European Parliament to be more vocal in advocating for democratic reforms within the six Eastern Partnership states (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine).

The EaP CSF has made a number of policy recommendations.

In its recent policy paper published on June 13, the organisation made 23 proposals on how to advance civil society among the partnership’s member countries after 2020. It also emphasised that “the policy for the region beyond 2020 must be modelled around a renewed and strengthened cooperation between the EU and democratically-minded constituencies” who are able to assist the EU in forming democratic reforms in the region.

“Leaving the formulation and implementation of democratic reforms to the sole responsibility of EaP governments – the same governments  often responsible for human rights violations and cherry-picking reforms – sets it up for failure. To avoid this, the EU should make democratic reform a priority and include civil society in EaP countries as a third and equal player in policy design, implementation and evaluation, pushing for EaP government acceptance of a heightened status for civil society,” said Natalia Yerashevich, director of the secretariat of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.

The EaP CSF also called on the next European Commission to keep the European Neighbourhood Initiative (the financial instrument dedicated to the EaP), as well the commission’s directorate-general specialising in the region at the top of the EU neighbourhood policy’s agenda.