Make public participation in donor-funded EaP democracy programs a requirement, says Lovitt (+video)
News Source: PASOS Secretariat, Czech Republic
Donors that contribute to Eastern Partnership governments who have pledged to use the money for pro-democracy efforts should require such states to include civil society and the public in deciding how to spend the funds, said PASOS Executive Director Jeff Lovitt, speaking at a civil society conference in Vilnius November 29.
“We need more stakeholder engagement,” said Lovitt, who spoke as a panelist at “Eastern Partnership Reality Check: Political Challenges and Future Agenda for Civil Society,” an Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (CSF) conference.
“And we should combine that with independent monitoring of all the funding that goes to governments: how effective it is, if it is really going to where it is allocated.”
The conference was held November 27-29 in parallel with the Eastern Partnership Summit, a gathering of 28 high representatives of the EU member states and the six Eastern partners, as well as representatives of EU institutions.
Lovitt was part of a panel that discussed “Implications for External Democracy Support.”
He was joined on the panel by David Anderson, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canada; Jerzy Pomianowski, Executive Director, EED, Belgium; Karla Wursterova, Executive Director, Visegrad Fund, Slovakia; Mirja Peterson, Head of the Eastern Europe Unit, SIDA, Sweden; Balázs Jarábik, Senior Fellow, CEPI and FRIDE, Project Director, Pact, Slovakia; and Luis Navarro, Senior Country Representative in Georgia, NDI, United States. Rodger Potocki, Senior Director for Europe, NED, United States, moderated the panel.
Lovitt also said that donors should better fund training programs for civil society actors and experts in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, and said that civil society in the region must become more professionalized and be able to show how they are being effective.
In addition, he called for more openness in how the European Union negotiates integration agreements with the EaP states.
“To enable civil society to work properly, to monitor, it’s not just their governments, but also the EU has to be more transparent,” he said. “I think the debates around the Association Agreements and the trade agreements have been hampered by the lack of public debate. The EU can say it shoud have been the national governments, but it actually should be a joint public awareness campaign. And I think that would have helped in Armenia, when the president did a U-turn.”
The conference was the continuation of the annual Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, which was held in Chisinau, Moldova, in October. Organized by the Eastern Europe Studies Centre, the conference was held in cooperation with the CSF and with the support of the European Commission, the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Endowment for Democracy.
A video of the panel discussion that featured Lovitt can be viewed here: