The current discussion in Russia about the necessity of political, economical and social modernisation raises the question of the country’s ability to innovate and to compete on a global level. Centrally important to the debate’s success will be whether the state demands a monopolising role in the debate or whether it can be conducted with the active participation of the various powers in society. It can only be in the interests of Europe as a whole that the modernisation partnership which the EU has offered Russia is conducted on both sides by a well-informed and critical public. Essential prerequisites for this are strengthening Russian civil society and creating a framework for discussions that aim for a Europe-wide development which is both long-lasting and democratic.
The German-Russian Exchange and European Exchange Berlin have developed a position paper, “For a New Start in Civil Society Cooperation with Russia”, which has already been signed by a number of European foundations and non-governmental organisations. The signatories appeal to the EU and its member states to make it more straightforward for Russian civil society actors to cooperate with their European partners, and to markedly increase the financial resources available for this key area. As well as visa-free travel for civil society actors, they are demanding the establishment of a “Civil Society Forum EU-Russia”, which would be analogous to the EU’s Civil Society Forum with the countries of the Eastern Partnership, which was set up in November 2009.
ACGRC signed the petition of Armenian NGOs to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Members of the Bureau, Standing and Monitoring Committees of the PACE and CoE High Commissioner for Human Rights