The SELDI Initiative: Strengthening the Resilience to Corruption and State Capture in Southeast Europe >>


"Europe Lab": A Pulitzer Prize Holder 2016 Will Be Opening the Round >>
Study Tours for Forum Members: Apply Until 28 July 2016 >>

Statement "Brexit - Time to Re-Define the European Union" >>

"Different Wars" Exhibition: Historic Opening at the European Parliament and "Mosty" Festival in Perm >>
Open Call Mechanism: Creative Approach to Human Human Rights and Migration >>

Alicja Wancerz-Gluza (KARTA Centre, Warsaw, Poland): 'We Prefer a More European Attitude towards Our History - Multiperspectivity' >>

Gulag.Cz (Prague, Czech Republic): Virtual Gulag Online Museum Launched in Prague >>
NGO Lawyers' Club (St. Petersburg, Russia): On Yarovaya-Ozerov Package of Bills >>
Östgruppen (Stockholm, Sweden): "Human Rights Camera" Photo Blog >>


The SELDI Initiative: Strengthening the Resilience to Corruption and State Capture in Southeast Europe

On request of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Daniela Mineva, Research Fellow of the Economic Programme at the Centre for the Study of Democracy (Sofia, Bulgaria), Coordinating Institution for the SELDI Anti-Corruption Coalition, prepared an essay as a follow-up of the SELDI workshop on 14 June 2016:

In the past ten years, both the nature of corruption and the anti-corruption agenda in Southeast Europe have changed. Political corruption has replaced petty bribery both as the dominant concern of national and international reformists and as one of the leading causes for most social and economic damage. The earlier emphasis on harmonising national legislation with international standards has now been substituted by a focus on its enforcement. The past year in particular has vividly exposed governance vulnerabilities in Southeast Europe and how they threaten to undermine the region’s European perspective. The migration crisis, the economic stagnation, and the Russia-EU geopolitical stand-off have shown the need to reinvigorate the European Union’s engagement with the region. A critical part of this engagement remains the need to reduce corruption and state-capture vulnerabilities in Southeast Europe, especially in the energy sector.    

In 2012, the European Commission adopted a new enlargement approach, which placed rule of law, anti-corruption, and judicial reform at the heart of the process. To respond to the new EU policy priorities, the Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity (SELDI) Coalition has developed and implemented a civil-society-led approach to monitoring and tackling corruption in the region, which provides policy makers with important insights. The SELDI initiative aims to draw an accurate picture of the corruption environment in the region, present the latest data on corruption pressure, and introduce new ways for improving anti-corruption efforts. 

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"Europe Lab": A Pulitzer Prize Holder 2016 Will Be Opening the Round

Sergey Ponomarev, a well-known photo journalist and a Pulitzer Prize Winner 2016, will be opening the 2nd Forum for Young Professionals "Europe Lab" on 21 July 2016 in Zagreb, Croatia. In his keynote speech at the Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, he will connect all workshop topics - from wars after 1989 to refugees and from media to social entrepreneurship - as well as share his opinion on what makes the change in the modern world.

The Forum will be attended by around 80 young people aged between 25 and 35 from 26 European countries working in NGOs, think tanks, universities, business, public administration, and other fields of professional engagement.

The primary Forum location will be Vukovar, a town on the Croatian-Serbian border, which was attacked by the Yugoslav People's Army in the Homeland War (1991-1995) as the first settlement on the Croatian ground. Apart from four workshops, such formats as
an excursion to the Memorial Centre of the Homeland War, a film screening, a BarCamp session, and others will be offered throughout the Forum to be held on 21-24 July 2016. Optional parts of the Programme will be the Walking Tour "Hidden and Secret Passages of Zagreb" with Saša Šimpraga, architectural historian and urban activist, and a visit to the Jasenovac Memorial Site.

The best common projects elaborated at the workshops will be awarded. The winners will get advice from prominent experts in their area, coordinators, and speakers of the workshops and receive grants for their projects’ implementation. The results will be presented at the 7th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum on 1-3 February 2017 in Helsinki, Finland.
More information on the "Europe Lab" Forum is available here.

Forum for Young Professionals “Europe Lab” is organised by the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in cooperation with the "Documenta" Centre for Dealing with the Past, the Memorial Centre of the Homeland War, and the German-Russian Exchange as well as supported by the European Commission, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the Oak Foundation. The ancestor of the Forum - the "Pilorama Lab" Project - was initiated and organised in 2012 and 2013 by the Civic Engagement Institute (Perm, Russia) and its General Director Zoya Lukyanova in cooperation with the Memorial Centre of the History of Political Repressions "Perm-36", the MitOst Association, and the German-Russian Exchange. 


Study Tours for Forum Members: Apply Until 28 July 2016

The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum calls for applications for workshops and study tours aimed at share of knowledge and dedicated to the Forum members and its currently seven Working and Expert Groups - "Human Rights and the Rule of Law", "Environment", "Social Issues and Civic Participation", "Democratic Structures and Processes", "Citizenship Education", "Historical Memory and Education" as well as "Fighting Transborder Corruption".

Some of the goals for this Call for Applications are to enhance operation and intensify activities of the Working / Expert Groups of the Forum; to increase visibility of civil society in Russia and the EU member states; to broaden networking and on-going cooperation among Forum members; to raise internationalisation and promote their common projects.

The total budget allocated is EUR 49,000. Each Working / Expert Group may send more than one application with a minimum of EUR 2,000 and a maximum of EUR 7,000 of requested funding. The study visits have to take place between September 2016 and December 2017.

Proposals in English or Russian shall arrive before 28 July 2016, 10pm CET / 11pm MSK. Applications and enquiries shall be marked “Study Tours” and sent to

More information on the Call for Applications is available here.


Statement "Brexit - Time to Re-Define the European Union"

The Steering Committee of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum sees Brexit as a strong signal to find new solutions for current challenges and to re-define the European Union and national policies of the EU countries.

Respect towards another party, cooperation for mutual benefit, guaranteeing social justice and democracy are at the core of the European Union. Throughout the years, the Union has succeeded in bringing governments and civil societies together in cooperative efforts. The departure of a member state from the EU, if it does finally take place, is a loss to all the parties concerned.

Yet, the Brexit vote is a culmination of a series of other events over the last decade, which showed a growing dissatisfaction about EU policies among its citizens - rejection of the European Constitution in France and the Netherlands, protests against TTIP throughout Europe, and the referendum on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, to name only a few of them.

All the warnings mentioned above seem to have been in vain. While EU citizens were steadily expressing their discontent and many suffered increasing economic insecurity, those issues were not sufficiently addressed by the EU and national political institutions. As a result, such public sentiments were misused by populists, who persuaded broad strata of European society to support their views. This leads to the rise of far-right movements, xenophobia, and anti-migrant rhetoric.

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"Different Wars" Exhibition: Historic Opening at the European Parliament and "Mosty" Festival in Perm

June turned out to be a busy month for the authors and organisers of the Touring Exhibition "Different Wars: National School Textbooks on World War II". On 6-9 June 2016, in the course of the European Parliament plenary session, the English version was displayed in Strasbourg, France. The Russian version was opened on 16 June 2016 at the City Culture Centre within the Summer City Public Festival "Mosty" in Perm, Russia, where it will stay until 31 July 2016.

The “Different Wars” Exhibition explores differences in perception and narration of the history of the World War II by comparing modern high school textbooks from the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia.

The school textbooks of today determine the European politics of tomorrow, - said Othmar Karas, MEP, Chair of the Delegation of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, in his address in Strasbourg. - What a child learns about the past forms his or her identity and relation to neighbours. The differences between historical narratives are huge. We should finally come to a common European interpretation of the darkest chapter in our European history.

The message behind the project is taking individual responsibility to understand the past and to be sensitive about its influence on the present. In that sense, the exhibition is an extremely important public effort to connect the varying national narratives about the war into a common process of coming to terms with the history, - told Kristina Smolijaninovaitė, Senior Project Coordinator at the Forum's Secretariat and one of the authors of the exhibition. - Bringing “Different Wars” to the European Parliament was a historic moment, as we hope that it would let us start this conversation also in the counties and communities that are not a part of our exhibition.

The “Different Wars” Project was initiated in 2014 by the Working Group “Historical Memory and Education” of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in close cooperation with historians, civil society activists, history teachers, and enthusiasts from all countries involved.

The research and coordination work was fulfilled by Antikomplex (Prague), the German-Russian Exchange (Berlin), Gulag.Cz (Prague), the KARTA Centre (Warsaw), the Kostroma Civic Initiatives Support Centre (Kostroma), Memorial International (Moscow), Memorial Italia (Milan), the Society of German-Russian Relationship (Münster/Münsterland), and the Youth Memorial (Perm).

When preparing the exhibition, we were astonished how varied such topics as Holocaust, participation of local populations in Nazi atrocities, or rememberance of the war as a tradegy, sacrifice, or heroic deed are shown in school textbooks. Even the beginning of the war is considered differently: In Russia, it is June 1941, in Poland September 1939, and in the Czech Republic September 1938, - commented Robert Latypov, Chair of the Perm Regional Branch of the "Memorial" Society, an author of the exhibition, who is leading the exhibition tours in Perm. - But despite a plenty of interpretations, all textbooks have one idea in common - our victory over Fascism, and this idea joins us.

“Different Wars” was previously shown at the Charles University in Prague. Its Russian version was already on display in Moscow and Yekaterinburg.

The project is supported by the European Commission, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the Georg Eckert Institute, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the Oak Foundation.

Some media items on the exhibition might be read here.


Open Call Mechanism: Creative Approach to Human Rights and Migration

An active stage for two projects selected for funding within the Open Call Mechanism has been started. Both of them involve young people in work with such important topics as human rights and migration.

Within the Project "Comic Star - Creative Inclusion" implemented by the Subjective Values Foundation (Hungary) and the German-Russian Exchange (Russia), teenagers from orphanages in St. Petersburg and from "second chance schools" in Budapest have been working in groups on scenarios for comics. In June 2016, professional comic artists - Gergely Oravecz from Hungary and Olga Lavrentieva from Russia - initiated talks with two groups of youngsters to combat their daily problems and conflicts in the sense of the "Respect" Project. They will choose the best scenarios proposed by young people and co-create comics with them afterwards. This autumn, guys and girls from St. Petersburg will be traveling to Budapest and vice-versa and presenting their ideas to the coevals. As the final result, an exhibition of the winning plots is planned.

Within the Project "Capacity Building: Moving Stories - Narratives of Migration Crossing Europe" by UNITED for Intercultural Action, the network marked 20 June 2016, International Refugee Day, by launching a new online campaign. #LifeSeekers is a campaign for a new approach to problems faced by young people in Europe. It is aimed at policy makers, who are supposed to take positive action to solve these problems and to stop blaming migrants and refugees.

'Whether we are asylum seekers or not, we are all Life Seekers, who want freedom and power to shape our own futures,' says a preamble text to the campaign. Through memes and infographics shared via social media, young people will be directed to the #LifeSeekers website, where they can show their support for the campaign by signing a statement against scapegoating of migrants and refugees. To learn more on the action, please follow the link.


Alicja Wancerz-Gluza (KARTA Centre, Warsaw, Poland): 'We Prefer a More European Attitude towards Our History - Multiperspectivity'

To watch the interview on YouTube, please follow the link

Alicja, you are one of the founders of the KARTA Centre. Can you please go back into the times of 1980s and tell, in which activities your organisation was involved at that moment?

The KARTA Centre is an independent historical institution, but we started our work 34 years ago as an underground movement in the times of the Martial Law in Poland. At that moment, we were just a small independent newspaper, which was published on one sheet of paper. It was type-written. In Polish, one piece of paper is ‘kartka’ or ‘karta’. Due to that translation, the name of our newspaper and later institution is KARTA. But it was also in relation to the word “charter”, because we were thinking of the Charter of Human Rights. And we were also thinking of an independent organisation in the Czech Republic  - “Charta 77”. We started from the underground by collecting historical documentation like private documents, photos, memories of eyewitnesses, Polish citizens, who were victims of the World War II, also those of the Soviet occupation, because this topic was absolutely forbidden in Poland in the 1980s. We were thinking that if we hadn’t collected memories of the past, this past would have disappeared for the people. Our idea was just to collect sources of information about this past. We started arranging independent archives of historical sources and a very huge collection of eyewitnesses’ reports. As of today, KARTA still has got huge archives of about 5,000 reports of eyewitnesses and 240,000 historical photos. We have huge collections of documents. Certainly, it is not the only one of our activities. As I told already, KARTA is an independent historical institution, which has been not only collecting the documents, but keep on trying to publish results of the research on collecting activities. It means we prepare a lot of publications, we have a series of books and the KARTA Magazine, which is a historical quarterly magazine, which is full of sources. KARTA and all our activities have the same way of presenting the past, the history. It means that we always present history through our personal lives, sources, and documents.

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Gulag.Cz (Prague, Czech Republic): Virtual Gulag Online Museum Launched in Prague

A virtual museum on life in a concentration camp – Gulag Online – was launched in Prague, Czech Republic. The project is the result of a year’s work by members and associates of the Czech NGO Gulag.Cz in cooperation with the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. It is the world’s first comprehensive project of its kind, linking archaeological and archival research, oral history and geographical data as well as the latest information technology. The virtual museum is available in Czech, English, and Russian. 

NGO Lawyers' Club (St. Petersburg, Russia): On Yarovaya-Ozerov Package of Bills

The NGO Lawyers' Club has prepared an expert opinion on a package of laws adopted on 24 June 2016 under the common name of “Yarovaya-Ozerov Package of Bills”.

Yarovaya-Ozerov Laws were adopted without a prior opinion of experts and did not pass a proper public debate. They provide the state with unlimited control of secret of correspondence of citizens, possibility to monitor their movements, to supervise behind the scenes the content of information transmitted, and also to destroy services of anonymous transmission of information. The last interfere with civil rights and liberties implies a violation of the right to privacy and the free flow of information, reduces warranty of any state intervention in the private sphere of citizens, shows a lack of features of the democratic state in the regulation of relations in this area, and leads to a total control of the state over the individual.

Read more (in Russian)


Östgruppen (Stockholm, Sweden): "Human Rights Camera" Photo Blog

Svetlana, Evgeni, Raisa, and Bulat are human rights activists from different Russian regions - St. Petersburg, Tuapse, Chechnya, and Kazan. In the photo blog created by Östgruppen - Swedish Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, they share the stories of their everyday work. 

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