CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM HELD FOR COUNTRIES THAT PARTICIPATE IN EU “EASTERN PARTNERSHIP” PROGRAM

November 19th, 2009
On 16-17 November, in Brussels, a Civil Society Forum was held for the European Union Eastern Partnership participant countries. 240 NGO representatives from six countries took part in the forum – Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

20 NGOs From Azerbaijan participated in theForum including Law Enlightenment Society Chairman Intigam Aliyev, Dilare Aliyeva Woman Rights Defense Society Chairperson Novella Jafaroglu, Humanitarian Investigations Society Head Evez Hesenov, Institute for Reporter’s Freedom and Safety Chairman Emin Huseynov, DEVAMM Chairman Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, Elections Monitoring and Teaching of Democracy Public Union Chairman Anar Memmedli, “Transparency Azerbaijan” organization’s executive director Rena Sefereliyeva, and Economic and Social Development Centre Chairman Vugar Bayramov.  
IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov delivered letters regarding the situation of freedom of expression and human rights in Azerbaijan to Commissioner for External Relations and the European Union Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European and Economic Social Committee President Mario Sepi, and European Union Presidency Representative and Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt. (http://www.irfs.az/content/view/3120/28/lang,eng/)
Commissioner for External Relations and the European Union Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and European Union Presidency Representative and Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt spoke during the Forum.
In the final document that the Forum participants worked to produce, they called on the governments of the participant countries to free political prisoners, to respect human rights, to hold free and fair elections, and to secure freedom of speech and assembly.
The preparation of the “road map,” annulment of visa regime among the participant countries, and granting of free visas at the beginning are also mentioned in the document.
European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner promised to take into account all of the recommendations from the participants.
“Before all the issues were discussed between the governments only, but now it is up to you to decide. Your recommendations will be considered, because partnership without civil societies is out of the question. We take civil society very seriously,” said European Commissioner.