The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, a permanent common platform for cooperation and coordination of civil society organizations from the Russian Federation and the European Union, starts its work in Berlin in February 2015. The history of the forum goes back to 2010, when a number of NGOs and civil society institutions from the EU proposed to re-launch EU-Russian inter-social cooperation.
The forum aims at strengthening cooperation with Russia in the fields of civil society, rule of law, democracy building and human rights. A series of round table discussions then took place in Berlin, Moscow, Brussels, and Helsinki.
“We felt that Russian and European civil societies need to have a stronger say in the EU-Russia relationships and political dialogue. We believe NGOs and other civil society organizations are crucial in promoting consolidation of shared values, helping Russian and European integration, and developing common positions in the spheres of human rights, social justice, democracy, the rule of law, the environment and other important issues of common interest for the development of our societies,” stated Rostislav Valvoda, one of the Steering Committee Members.
One of the core activities of the forum are the so-called Working Groups established in Prague. The idea of the Working Groups is to bring together European and Russian NGOs to exchange views on current activities, such as problem areas and best practices, to find new contacts, and to work together on joint projects that bring some added value.
The Working Groups focus on areas such as human rights, environment, social issues, democratic structures, citizenship education and historical memory and education. In order to become a member of the forum, organizations (both registered and non-registered NGOs and others) have to fill in the application form on the forum’s official website www.eu-russia-csf.org
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