From 20-21 October 2011 society delegates and decision makers from the Eastern Partnership and EU countries gathered in Yerevan, Armenia at the Congress organized by the European Movement International (EMI) to discuss the topic “Fostering Civil Society’s role for further European integration in the Eastern Partnership”.
With a strong will to deepen the network and roots of civil society, Alfredo Sellitti, President of AEGEE Europe, and Eastern Partnership Project team members – Daryna Skryl (AEGEE-Dnipropetrovsk) and Shushan Khachaturyan (AEGEE-Yerevan), as well as Yulia Barmakova (AEGEE-Kyiv) and AEGEE-Yerevan members participated in the Congress, actively contributing to working out the conclusions.
Issues related to aims and objectives of Eastern Partnership Project launched by AEGEE members were intensively discussed during three parallel workshops at the Congress with the following outcome:
- Non-formal education provided by youth NGOs should be considered as an important element in bridging the gaps in the formal education system, fully recognized and adequately supported both financially and legally.
- It was admitted that there are still obstacles during registration of youth NGOs, operation and expression of their opinions, and the difficulties in generating interest among young people who have been raised in totally state-led systems. A Possible solution to these problems lies in alliance-building among NGOs working on similar projects, which would increase their efficiency and contribute to foster a dialogue with the Government.
- Participants proposed a set of recommendations towards a fight against visa restrictions, namely encouragement of information exchange on established practices; encouraging youth NGOs to establish/join alliances advocating visa-free actions; asking the European Union member states to grant “home student status” to all students coming from the European Partnership countries; asking Armenia and Azerbaijan to abolish visa restrictions for EU citizens.
During the Congress AEGEE members used this opportunity to inform participants about Eastern Partnership Project and presented all their prospectives and on-going actions. Meanwhile in discussions with possible partners and stakeholders it was concluded that Eastern Partnership Project needs to be a part of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in order to bring more efficiency to active citizenship development and visa-facilitation for young people. Cooperation with Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum could be a great achievement for the Project because of the opportunity to lobby for its aims and this issue was supposed to be discussed at the third meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in Poznan, Poland on 28-30th of November 2011.
written by Daryna Skryl, AEGEE Dnipropetrovsk