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NEWSLETTER AUGUST 2015


IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Solidarity Group: What for and What's Next? >>

TOP NEWS

Registration for the General Assembly in Budapest Is Open Now >>
Next EC Project Period and New Forum Donors >>
"Europe Lab": Winners of the Project Contest >>

FLASHBACK
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act: Cross-Border Civil Society Dialogue at the Peace Station >>


MEDIA
Zinta Miezaine (Workshop of Solutions, LAPAS, Latvia): 'It is Very Important that You Can Say after Another Project: 'OK, This Was not for the Sake of Report, This Was for People'' >>

MEMBERS' VIEWS
Arkhangelsk Centre of Social Technologies "Garant": Conference "Inspiring Practices to Improve Efficiency of Nonprofit Organisations" >>
UNITED for Intercultural Action: #YOUACT - YOUth ACTivism Shaping Our Intercultural Europe >>
Sakharov Centre: Launch of a Web Platform for Online Learning >>

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Solidarity Group: What for and What's Next?

Alexei Kozlov, Executive Director at the Association "Solidarity with Civil Society Movement in Russia" (Solidarität mit der Bürgerbewegung in Russland), Co-Cordinator of the Solidarity Group, reflects on the essence and sense of the group:


The Solidarity Group was established at the 5th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in November 2014 in Tallinn (Estonia). It was a reaction to the repressions against nonprofit organisations and activists in Russia. In 2014, a number of organisations (including Forum members) were put on the list of “foreign agents”, while their leaders were persecuted.

The main topics of the group are promotion of principles and provision of support by the Forum; recommendations for those, who want to get this assistance, and for those, who want to provide support; development of mechanisms of rapid reaction to the situations that require solidary actions – along with the programmes of long-term support of activists and organisations. In addition, we plan to gather the best practices of solidary actions and create a database of resources. By that, I mean initiatives and organisations, which are not included in the Forum’s structure but which are eager to provide support. We are considering the possibility of launching a hotline, as long as the number of situations that require rapid reaction is growing.

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TOP NEWS

Registration for the General Assembly in Budapest is Open Now

Until 15 October 2015, registration for the 6th General Assembly (GA) of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum has been open. The General Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the Forum, which gathers over 120 civil society actors from Russia and the European Union coming from both Forum members and further interested organisations as well as prominent guests – journalists, diplomats, researchers, etc.

This year’s GA is held on 7-9 December 2015 at the Benczúr Hotel in Budapest, Hungary. The assembly will focus on the situation with civil societies in Russia and the EU and cross-cutting issues for the civil societies – as challenges of migration and refugees crisis, xenophobia, anti-corruption work, etc. The draft programme is available here.

In comparison to the previous years, GA 2015 offers more formats open to the public. We ask for your understanding that sessions devoted to Forum's internal issues are reserved for the members of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum only.


Please do not forget to fill in the application form until 15 October 2015! See you in Budapest!

To read more on the GA format, please follow the link.

TOP NEWS

Next EC Project Period and New Forum Donors

The European Commission has been supporting the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum since its establishment in 2011, and it is a great honour for the Forum to receive support and cooperate with the EC for another 30 months, commencing on 1 September 2015.

In 2015-2018 the activities of the Forum will be guided by the CSF mid-term strategy, which the majority of Forum members endorsed in July 2015. The new cycle of Forum’s development is oriented towards wider internal and external outreach. Members will have an opportunity to exchange practices through trainings and webinars, organise a study tour, take part in the projects’ competition, etc. The open call for CSF members’ initiatives with an overall budget of 210,000 euro will open in October 2015, with new projects to start in early 2016. Bi-lateral EU-Russia medium-size projects (8,000 - 30,000 euro) might apply.
 
For the Secretariat, the new EC project brings new tasks – as the production of the annual “EU-Russia State of the Civil Society Report”, “What is happening to the Civil Society” video-briefings and reaching out to new audiences and stakeholders. The Secretariat’s staff will maintain and develop core CSF events – as the annual General Assembly, Forum for Young Professionals “Europe Lab”, “Legal Dialogue”, Donors' Conference.

All these formats were piloted during the previous cycle of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum which just ended on 31 August. Those eventful 19 months enabled Forum’s growth and became possible thanks to contribution of several donors, including the major one from the European Commission.

This July, good news also came from the Hague: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands granted its support to several Forum’s activities of 2015. These funds will support organisation of the 6th General Assembly in Budapest, Hungary, micro-projects of the participants of the Forum for Young Professionals “Europe Lab”, touring of the “Different Wars” exhibition in the EU and Russia and the Forum’s anti-corruption team’s work.

The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum is grateful to all the donors and individuals supporting our activities, our members and – more generally - the work for the benefit of civil society and democracy worldwide.

TOP NEWS

"Europe Lab": Winners of the Project Contest

On 25 August 2015, the jury evaluated the project proposals upon the Forum for Young Professionals “Europe Lab” and announced the winners of the competition.

In total, the jury received 10 project proposals. The absolute winner of the competition is the “Meet My City” Project conceived by the visa and migration workshop. The members of the international project team will arrange tours for migrants and introduce them to the infrastructure of their new residence places and provide them with practical information around those like the location of the best pharmacy or the market place, etc. Such tours will be organised in Berlin, Istanbul, Perm, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Vilnius, and Warsaw. This project will receive 3,200 euros for the implementation.

Three other winners will receive 3,000 euros each. The Project “After the Iron Curtain: Memory and Culture in Post-Communist Europe” from the historical memory workshop will investigate the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and its impact on people inside and outside the post-Soviet countries by collecting personal stories and posting them on a special website. The second project – “Play Your Neighbourhood” from the urban space workshop - will deal with patterns of collaboration in neighborhoods, where there is a low level of interaction and common interest between residents, by collecting, promoting, and implementing common activities. Finally, the Project “Free to Move: Say ‘Yes’ to Liberal Visa Package!” – another one from the visa and migration workshop – will focus on raising awareness in the EU states as well as in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine of complicated procedures for applying for visas on both sides as well as fostering the respective authorities for a visa liberalisation package.

The project teams will implement their projects in September-November 2015, the results to be presented at the 6th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum on 7-9 December 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.

To learn more on the winners, please follow the link.

The Forum for Young Professionals “Europe Lab” took place on 23-26 July 2015 in Vilnius and Raseiniai, Lithuania. It was attended by roughly 80 participants aged between 25 and 35 and coming from the European Union, the Russian Federation, the Eastern Partnership countries, the Balkans, and other European regions and supported by the European Commission, the Stefan Batory Foundation, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. The funding for the participants’ projects is provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Stefan Batory Foundation.

FLASHBACK

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act: Cross-Border Civil Society Dialogue at the Peace Station

Photo by Kirill Reznik
On 4 July 2015, Finnish NGO colleagues invited a delegation of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum to speak at the seminar “Cross-Border Civil Society Dialogue – 40 Years since Helsinki Final Act” at the Peace Station in Helsinki.

The Forum was represented by Olga Zakharova, Director at “Freedom Files” (Moscow, Russia) and three Steering Committee members - Yuri Dzhibladze, President at the Center for Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Moscow, Russia), Stefan Melle, Director at the “German-Russian Exchange” (Berlin, Germany), and Anna Skvortsova, Director at the NGO Development Centre (St. Petersburg, Russia). They spoke at the panel with Astrid Thors, OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, and Rauno Merisaari from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.

Forty years ago, the Helsinki Final Act had become a step forward towards normalisation of the relationship between the East and the West in the post-war world. It also led to recognition of the civil society actors as legitimate observers of how the states comply with their international obligations. Where do the things stand now and how can civil society actors foster cooperation on the people-to-people level, given that in Russia the space for NGO activities is narrowing? The discussants also shared their ideas on how the civil society might contribute to overcoming current tensions between the East and the West in the spirit of the Helsinki Final Act.

On the sidelines of the event, Forum representatives discussed cooperation opportunities with Finnish colleagues and ways to increase CSF membership in Finland.

The seminar was organised by the Peace Union of Finland in cooperation with the Finnish Committee for European Security (STETE); Physicians for Social Responsibility; the Finnish PEN Club; VIKES - the Finnish Foundation for Media, Communication and Development; the Committee of 100.

MEDIA

Zinta Miezaine (Workshop of Solutions, LAPAS, Latvia): 'It is Very Important that You Can Say after Another Project: 'OK, This Was not for the Sake of Report, This Was for People''

To watch the interview please follow the link

Ms Miezaine, your organisation - “Risinājumu darbnīca” (Workshop of Solutions) is involved in projects with international students coming to Latvia. Could you describe the projects you implement and tell about the students you involve?

We really work with various countries, and our aim is primarily to promote involvement of people in decision-making. We understand this very wide and mean by that not only civil society organisations or NGOs but people as such. People may be not always organised, it is responsibility of governments to learn their needs and opinions to shape policies. So, we do this in Latvia, and we promote those ideas in other countries.


With Russia, we have been working in a format of study visits: We introduce our guests to organisations or local governments or ministries, which are quite good at learning people’s needs, communicating with them. And communicating not unilaterally like “we meet a decision - and they inform people” but really listening to the people - asking about planned policies, problems, and possible solutions. So it is where we are. “Workshop of Solutions” is always looking for policy solutions, which are good for people. We listen to different opinions and try to understand, how these interests can be reconciled.

We also worked in Moldova and Transnistria working together with NGOs and people from local governments. These people came together in order to discuss their daily work, which was getting better, especially for the socially vulnerable groups. Thinking together on how to address their needs, they became much more tolerant towards each other and started to develop projects together, have ideas together, think about each other in a better way. It is really hard for them, because they have tanks on borders and soldiers, which give a subconscious idea that there are enemies on the other bank of the Dniester River, particularly Moldovans. We try to make people establish good working relations. That is what we do.

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MEMBERS' VIEWS

Arkhangelsk Centre of Social Technologies "Garant": Conference "Inspiring Practices to Improve Efficiency of Nonprofit Organisations"

The Arkhangelsk Centre of Social Technologies "Garant" invites to the conference "Inspiring Practices to Improve Efficiency of Nonprofit Organisations", which is due to take place on 24-25 September 2015.

 

UNITED for Intercultural Action: #YOUACT - YOUth ACTivism Shaping Our Intercultural Europe

UNITED invites organisations to nominate participants for the UNITED Conference in Budapest, “#YOUACT: YOUth ACTivism Shaping Our Intercultural Europe”.

This conference will take place on 14-19 October 2015 and focus on the role of antiracism youth work in shaping European societies.

Read more

 

Sakharov Centre: Launch of a Web Platform for Online Learning


The Sakharov Centre launched a new online school to provide webinars and online courses of the Centre.
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