Civil society is the strength of every nation

28 November 2013, Last updated at, 18:07 EET
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author: Dž. G. Barysaitė

As the largest event of the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union - Vilnius Summit - is beginning, President Dalia Grybauskaitė opened the Conference "Eastern Partnership Reality Check: Political Challenges and Future Agenda for Civil Society". The discussion aims for encouraging people of Eastern Partnership countries to be more active citizens and build the future of their nations.

Taking part in the conference are the European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, former President of the European Parliament Pat Cox, members of academic community, representatives of non-governmental organizations and influential experts from the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries - Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Belarus. More than 400 participants and 120 journalists are attending the event.

"Citizens build a state. People, not the governments, are the main actors keeping societies functioning. Civil involvement and responsibility of people help consolidate democratic values - respect for human rights, free elections, the rule of law and pluralistic society - in a country. I therefore call on civil societies to be active and have a powerful voice if governments act irresponsibly," the President said.

According to the President, the EU Eastern Partnership programme has been initiated to help each other create strong civil societies and entrench democratic values. The programme opens up vast opportunities which include not only trade agreements but also cooperation in the areas such as people's mobility, transport, border management, and environmental protection. The Erasmus+ programme starts in January offering a new potential for the students from the Eastern Partnership countries. It means that the European Union enters into a phase of implementing concrete measures.

Eastern Partnership countries still face challenges regarding the creation of full-functioning civil societies. Therefore, the President encourages the partners continuing to work on reforms to set up well-established and consolidated democratic systems.

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From 28.11.2013 to 29.11.2013
The 3rd Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius

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