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Preparations for the establishment of the Georgian Civil Society National Platform for the Eastern Partnership.

On 7 May 2009 the EU launched the Eastern Partnership a new form of partnership with six Eastern European countries: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. In November 2009 the European Commission initiated the creation of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (CSF). CSF consists of representatives of the CSOs from the EU, the six partner countries and the international organizations.

The European Commission elaborated the CSF Concept paper where it listed four main goals the CSF targets at:

  1. Civil society involvement in the EaP;
  2. Cooperation among CSOs of six EaP countries;
  3. Civil society dialogue with government;
  4. Cooperation among CSOs of the EU and the six partner countries.

For the better achievement of CSF goals on the partner country level, CSOs in each partner country are recommended to create its Civil Society National Platforms for the Eastern Partnership.

The head of the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), Ms. Tamar Khidasheli, was elected as the National Facilitator for Georgia at the first CSF in Brussels in November 2009.

Preparatory Activities - In the first half of 2010 GYLA engaged in preparatory consultations with the Georgian CSOs and got acquainted with the on-going experience of other EaP countries related to the creation of National Platforms. The closest contacts have been established with the Belarusian and Armenian National Facilitators.

In the beginning of summer 2009 GYLA drafted the selection criteria for the CSOs that wish to become members of the Georgian Civil Society National Platform for the Eastern Partnership (Georgian NP), based on the best practices of partner countries. At the same time, GYLA elaborated a draft concept paper for the Georgian NP.

Working Group - In order to make the process more participatory, on 22 July 2010 GYLA invited all participants of the first CSF from Georgia to plan the preparatory work for the Georgian NP. It was agreed that all Georgian participants of the first CSF together with the National Facilitator will form the Working Group that will be tasked with the preparation of the first meeting of the Georgian NP.

The Working Group undertook the responsibility to carry out the following activities: invite Georgian CSOs interested in European Integration for the participation in the Georgian NP, adopt selection criteria, adopt draft Concept Paper for the Georgian NP, elaborate draft rules of procedure of the Georgian NP, draft recommendations for the second SCF, elaborate draft appeal to the Government of Georgia, the European Union Delegation in Georgian and the European Commission.

Draft Concept Paper of National platform - The draft Concept Paper adopted by the Working Group
underlines the aims of the NP and lists the activities the latter should carry out for the achievement of these aims. It was agreed that the Georgian NP will be divided into four working groups according to the four EaP thematic platforms. The Coordination Council will be created to manage the work of the Georgian NP. The Council will be composed by the four representatives of four different CSOs from four working groups and the National Coordinator. The Council will represent the NP in relations with the third persons.

Alongside with the active civil society engagement, the function of the Georgian NP will be fostering regional integration among six partner countries, improving the cooperation with the Georgian public authorities, establishing strong network with the EU-based CSOs and facilitating communication with the EU institutions and the EU local Delegation. The recommendations elaborated regarding the implementation of the EaP will become a significant aspect of the NPs work.

Call for Expression of Interest - Call for the expression of interest to become a part of the Georgian NP was issued by the beginning of August. The first deadline was set for 15 September, 2010; however, later it was extended to 10 October 2010. The organizations have been asked to provide the following information: name of the organization; date of the registration; contact information; main activities; brief description of the projects related to platform activities including experience with EC projects; motivation for becoming a member of the Georgian NP.

By now around 70 CSOs submitted applications. The organizations vary from watchdog NGOs, Think Tanks and International Foundations registered in Georgia to Trade Unions and grass root organizations.

In order to make the process inclusive and participatory, the Working Group decided to invite all CSOs that expressed the interest to be involved in the process to the launching of the Georgian NP. Moreover, it was agreed that the National Platform will work according to the open door principle. Accordingly, its membership will not be limited to the organizations that managed to express the interest before launching of the Georgian NP.

Launching of the Georgian National Platform - The National platform will be launched on 13 November 2010, just before the second CSF meeting in Berlin. According to the envisaged agenda, the National Platform will adopt the Concept of the NP; will agree on the rules of procedure for the future operation of the National Platform, including election of the Steering Committee; will adopt the recommendations for the CSF in Berlin; will prepare an appeal to the Government of Georgia, EU Delegation in Georgia and the EC; will agree on the future strategy.

The technical side of launching of the National Platform is financially supported by the Open Society Georgia Foundation and the Heinrich Boell Foundation.

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