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Tag: civil society

Calling for a quality public discourse in Armenia

Public discourse in Armenia today remains beset with problems and the behaviour of the authorities is hardly a role model. If the government does not commit to improving the quality of discourse and its own behaviour, the country may be faced with a long-term challenge affecting other areas of public life.

June 18, 2020 - Valentina Gevorgyan

Damaging the immunity of the state

The recent regulations in Armenia contradict the political leadership’s commitments to democratisation and may be damaging to the country’s progress.

April 27, 2020 - Valentina Gevorgyan

Youtubers, influencers and creative activists are the new vanguard in Central Asia

It is a decisive moment for Central Asia. Societies of the region are receptive to the EU’s messages of transparency, democracy and rule of law, but they are also under pressure from other regional powers. If the European Union wants its new Central Asia Strategy to have a positive impact, it should reach out to innovative groups and individuals calling for change.

Over the past decade, the European Union has ceded ground in Central Asia, not only to Russia and a newly assertive China, but also to the Gulf states and Turkey, and experts forecast its influence is set to further decline. As EU Special Representative Peter Burian once quipped, “China is coming with an offer nobody can refuse, while the EU is coming with an offer nobody can understand.”

April 7, 2020 - Barbara von Ow-Freytag

The Herculean task of saving Europe’s oldest spa town

Băile Herculane, a small town of about 5,000 in western Romania, claims to be the oldest spa town in Europe. According to legend, the Roman god Hercules once stopped in the valley to bathe, lending the town its name. Today, a statue of the hero stands proudly in the centre, but his crumbling surroundings appear to be just a few years shy of becoming a ghost town.

It is after sunset, and the sound of trumpets blare through Băile Herculane station, signalling the arrival of old trains from the communist era. The platform is lined with shell-embossed lanterns, while unkempt vines drape over the seating area. An alpine scent permeates the air, and even at night, in the green glow of the lamps, the mist that hovers around the surrounding mountains is visible. No one who departs the train is under 50 and, as is common with most places where young people are few and far between, the station has retained the feeling of being from another era.

January 27, 2020 - Elizabeth Short

Increasing the power of civil society in Ukraine

How does the civil society drive Ukraine’s Euro-integration? To which extent are the NGO-coalitions powerful on influencing policy- and decision-making? What are some recent examples of civil society’s influence on the implementation of reforms?

December 22, 2019 - Oksana Khomei

Armenian civil society’s critical potential on target

Following the Velvet Revolution, Armenian civil society organisations face an increasingly difficult environment.

November 15, 2019 - Valentina Gevorgyan

Multiplying civil society’s voice in the Eastern Partnership, a challenging task

The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum was established to facilitate civil society’s engagement in Eastern Partnership policy and promote dialogue among civil society organisations and the authorities. One might think that one decade is enough time to develop co-operation where officials learn to value civil society’s expertise and willingness to help. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

When asked to look into the past ten years of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP SCF) I did not envision how difficult it would be. I found myself divided between my professional passion for the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region and the frustration that accumulated over the years of working on it. I have enormous admiration for civil society in the region whose actors, despite personal risk, tirelessly defend human rights, seek to instil democracy and the rule of law and create a safe and engaging environment. But I also cannot ignore the limitations.

May 2, 2019 - Dovilė Šukytė

Russia’s grassroots are more active than the West may think

Despite the Russian government's crackdown, Russia’s civil society is still alive and far stronger and more active than many in the West may think. In order for it to thrive, it needs to gain more self-confidence and more consistent cross-border co-operation.

According to international human rights organisations, in the past six years Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule has dramatically shrunk the space for actors of civil society with alternative views of government policy, who are often labelled as disloyal, foreign-sponsored or even “traitorous”. An enduring central feature to the current situation has been the Russian legislation introduced in 2012 requiring independent non-profit organisations to register as foreign agents if they receive any foreign funding and engage in broadly defined political activity.

March 4, 2019 - Andreas Rossbach

Accused of terrorist propaganda by the Turkish state, an academic speaks out

Turkish academic Mahmut Çınar was recently blacklisted from his professorship because he signed a petition in support of rights for Kurdish populations. He defended himself against the accusations of terrorist propaganda in the Turkish High Court. This is his statement of defence.

January 24, 2019 - Mahmut Cinar

Is the death of a Kherson local official the Gongadze case all over again?

Kateryna Handziuk's murder brings back memories of another politically motivated crime in Ukraine's newer history. President Poroshenko needs to try to avoid the same mistakes Kuchma made almost two decades ago.

November 9, 2018 - Kateryna Pryshchepa

Ukrainian civil society under attack

The conditions for the Ukrainian civil society are becoming increasingly difficult ahead of a highly contested presidential election in a few months time.

November 8, 2018 - Alexandra Wishart

NGOs in Hungary learn to adapt under pressure

Since the passage of a new anti-NGO law in Hungary, civil society organisations have been on the edge. No one knows for certain what will happen. The biggest fear is that there will be a backlash after the European Parliament voted to support triggering Article 7 against Hungary.

It is an average Monday at Menedék, a Budapest-based NGO. The team meets in a big conference room to discuss weekly issues and report back from the weekend, while project managers share recent developments, good and bad. The phones are off, but there is always somebody waiting for a random client to show up and ask for some assistance or to sign up for an activity. The mood is casual, as usual. The team is very diverse and made up of old and young members. They are expats from non-EU countries, former refugees, university students and experienced NGO workers.

November 5, 2018 - Balint Josa and Anna Fedas

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