Workshop on “Civil society contribution to Black Sea regional security:
Matching words with deeds”
Bucharest, 10-11 July 2007
The year of 2007 represents a year in which not only have Romania and Bulgaria become EU member states but also, the European Commission has recognized the need to treat the Black Sea area as a region and to formulate a new approach (Black Sea synergy) and a new regional financial instrument for it (ENPI/Cross-Border Cooperation – Black Sea). Moreover, the Black Sea Trust Fund for Regional Cooperation (based in Bucharest) will become operational in 2007. Taken together, these initiatives for the Black Sea region rely on an active and vibrant civil society for ensuring the stability and security of the region.
A strong civil society in the Black Sea region is indispensable for democratic consolidation and plays an undeniable role in building sustainable peace. The fact that civil society in the Black Sea ENP countries (Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine) remains weak, fragmented and dependent of external donors is an issue of concern. In other cases, there are risks of limiting the capacity and participation of the civil society in public affairs (e.g. Russia). In addition, regional governments are still reluctant to fully include civil society in policy design and implementation, especially with regard to areas of key importance for regional security.
As ENP is evolving and is being strengthened, including at regional level, and other regional assistance instruments are emerging (like BSTF), there is an increased need for the political desiderates to be matched by available resources. The existing gap between words and deeds is caused by numerous factors like the lack of transparency and civil participation in policy formulation and implementation, weak civil society capacity, intra-regional competition, rigid and bureaucratic assistance instruments. Thus, there is a clear need for experts to look in detail on how to match international policies, existing resources and instruments and the needs on the grounds.
Value-based regional networks are essential for developing a regional dynamic of democratisation and Europeanization in the Black Sea area. There is no need to reinvent the wheel; different regional initiatives have been developed by civil society organisations over the last years in various areas (like peace-building, democratic reforms, media, youth, small business, education). Their effect on the stability and development of the region has still to be further consolidated.
The new EU member states from the Black Sea region have a special opportunity but also responsibility to play in the overall development of the area and its inclusion in the European and Euro-Atlantic space. Romania has been advocating a new approach for the Black Sea region for some time. The cornerstone of this new approach was affirmed on 5th June 2006 when the Black Sea Forum for Dialogue and Partnership was launched in Bucharest. The Black Sea Forum aims to increase the synergy between international and regional policies and instruments, and in the same time to encourage more open and value-based type of interaction at governmental and non-governmental levels. Notions like “network of networks” or “forward-looking forum” have been used to describe this framework for dialogue and project-oriented cooperation. Currently, the Forum is developing into a set of projects, both at governmental and non-governmental level civil society playing an important role in many of these projects.
Against this background, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Crisis Management Initiative (together with the EU-Black Sea Peace-Building Network of which it is a part) are organising a workshop of governmental and non-governmental experts from the Black Sea region and from the European and North-American areas.
This workshop aims to jointly define the blueprint for an international “strategy” for building and consolidating civil society in the Black Sea area, especially in those areas in which the impact on regional stability and security needs to be further consolidated.
The ENP countries from the Black Sea region are the focus of this workshop, as there is a drive at EU level to strengthen bilateral policies and instruments for these countries. Also, there are indications that governments are willing to better use the incentives offered by European and Euro-Atlantic community. Thus, special importance will be placed on the need for more structured dialogue between governments and civil society, especially in those areas which are instrumental for achieving regional peace and stability
The objectives of the workshop are:
- To present the different national, regional and European assistance instruments (CBC-BS, BSTF, bilateral assistance policy) to civil society actors and have an open discussion on how to make these instruments more efficient.
- Assess the capacity of civil society in the Black Sea region, with special focus on ENP countries, in order to identify the key areas on which external assistance should focus.
- Present some of the functioning regional projects in the fields of peace-building, media, business, good governance, education and youth and encourage the development of other similar ones.
- Jointly agree the areas of priority interest for donours and the modalities in which to improve the flexibility and effectiveness of existing instruments.
- To raise public awareness through targeted media coverage on the important role that non-governmental organisations can and should play in public affairs.
- An inventory of needs for the region made by regional civil society organisations
- Better understanding of what instruments are available at regional level and how can they be used
- Concrete recommendations on how to make existing instruments accessible and flexible enough and how to shape governmental policies to enhance the efficiency of regional cooperation
- An inventory of regional networks and initiatives
Main output: A policy paper for building civil society in the Black Sea region. The policy paper will focus on assessing existing instruments for civil society building in the region; will evaluate the impact of certain regional projects; will present the key areas in which more focused international engagement is needed and also recommendations on how to improve the implementation of existing policies for the region.
In addition and in preparation for this event a mapping exercise of existing regional initiatives and projects will be done by Crisis Management Initiative and regional partners (Institute for Public Policy of R. Moldova, Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, International Centre for Human Development, Armenia and Helsinki Committee of Azerbaijan).