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EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in Prague

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.




On 28-29 March 2011, civil society actors from across Europe and Russia will gather in the Czech capital, Prague, for a meeting of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. The forum will serve as a venue to facilitate interactions between civil society institutions in the EU and Russia and could be used as a platform to develop a joint agenda and to support networking, exchanges, and implementation of joint initiatives and projects. The forum is not conceived as a formal institution; instead, it should be regarded as a framework for enhanced cooperation, an informal “meeting place” for joint action.

In early 2010, a number of NGOs and civil society institutions from the EU proposed to relaunch EU-Russian inter-social cooperation. The project’s initiators saw that during the past years, several factors had contributed to an opening of a “window of opportunity” for a renewed effort to strengthen cooperation with Russia in the fields of civil society, rule of law, human rights, and democracy building. In March 2010, a position paper — “For a New Start in Civil Society Cooperation with Russia” — was drafted. One of the proposals in the paper was to establish a EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.

As a reaction, a series of round table discussions of the idea to establish a EU-Russia Civil Society Forum took place in Berlin, Moscow, Brussels, and Helsinki from May to October 2010. The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum hosted a discussion about the project at its annual conference in July 2010. In October 2010, a position paper — “Russian NGO position on the establishment of an EU-Russia Civil Society Forum” — proposed concrete steps for setting up the forum. In November 2010, a meeting of interested NGOs from Russia and the EU took place in Berlin for planning the forum.

The draft Charter of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum (CSF) states that the forum is an open platform aimed at promoting cooperation between civil society in Russia and the European Union. Not being a legally registered organisation, it serves as a permanent framework for thematic and political interaction and exchange between non-governmental, non-profit-organisations from countries of the EU and Russia, and for their dialogue with the EU and Russian public authorities and other European partners. The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum takes an active part in the project.

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