Challenges in the Eastern Europe region
In the second decade of the 21st century, the region has been plunged into a series of crises. Revolution in Belarus against long-term dictator Lukashenko, the renewed war between Azerbaijan and Armenia and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has compounded previously brewing issues of corruption, organised crime, state capture, poverty, and fledging institutions.
In Belarus, dictator Lukashenko has cemented the power and eliminated (sometimes literally) all opposition to his unchecked rule. Civil society is in shatters and needs rebuilding after the revolution of 2020. Ukraine, fighting off foreign invasion, has shown remarkable resistance and resilience, in large part spurred by civil society. Yet in a mobilised society at war, the challenge of keeping checks and balances on those in power will increase. Moldova, the poorest country in Europe, is facing combined social, economic and security risks. In the Caucasus region, where conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia may even be coming to a closure, civil society will need to play a strong role in reconciliation as well as in support of much-needed reforms, while Georgia, almost a captured state is fragile in its divisions.
Western Balkans, with still reeling unresolved issues of the Yugoslav wars, have seen a decline in democracy ratings. With the Western Balkans more unstable than it was a decade ago, its civil society is weak and marginalised after a decade of neglect by donors.
Central Asia, historically a region of picturesque dictatorships, has seen some initiatives of reforms in recent years. While a far cry from actual democratisation, those may prove a window of opportunity for better governance and civic participation.
Examples of what ForumCiv contributes to
From the early days when civil society was merely a collective of interest groups to today, when grassroots movements and expert civil society foster societal resilience and struggle, sometimes for bare survival, ForumCiv has been one of the strongest Swedish supporters of democratisation in the region.
Regional Office Eastern Europe supports civil society and grassroots movements in the regions of Eastern Partnership, Western Balkans and Central Asia.
Depending on the region and specifics of the context, ForumCiv is tailoring its support to:
- Strengthen capacities of the civil society to protect the rights of the most marginalized.
- Build bridges between grassroots movements and expert civil society.
- Provide a platform for contact-making and exchanges between organisations in the region, Sweden and the EU.
- Raise awareness and advocate with duty-bearers.
To support activities inside the country, or online, involving local communities on the ground, focusing on civic mobilization into rights-based actions on any locally significant issues, target group engagement into rights-based actions, including by the means of arts and culture, and participatory needs assessments.
To implement projects focusing on grassroots engagement, rights advocacy, civic response to the actions and decisions of duty bearers, and increased citizen participation in the local and regional decision-making, as well as collaborative development of policy proposals, future visions of democratic Belarus, awareness raising of actions and decisions of duty bearers, advocacy campaigns towards duty-bearers.