Россия и ЕС: после Майдана
Russia is ready for dialogue with the EU on a fundamentally new basis. A return to the relations we had 3 years ago is pointless and impossible. We must create a new format.
We are very pleased to publish the second volume of the State of Civil Society in the EU and Russia. The inspiration for the 2017 Report came from members of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. The Report’s primary goal is to capture similarities and differences in the shape and nature of challenges faced by civil society organisations in Russia and the EU, with a view of enhancing mutual understanding and knowledge and, consequently, creating better opportunities for cooperation and exchange. The first issue, Annual Report (2016), contained academic research in four EU countries (Germany, Spain, Poland, Hungary) along with Russia1 . The positive reception encouraged us to explore further countries. In cooperation with the Centre for German and European Studies (Saint Petersburg State University - Bielefeld University), we have organised a research workshop in Saint Petersburg in April 2017. The new researchers met contributors from the previous year as well as experts on civil society and civil society organisations (CSOs) from different countries. Through the research we take a participatory approach aimed at the inclusion of civil society representatives. We used methodology based on an online survey and in-depth interviews conducted in Russia and four new EU countries: Italy and the Netherlands as “old” member states and Lithuania and Bulgaria as new members. All case studies were conducted by researchers in their home countries, placing them into the broader political, social and economic development of the respective country. We are grateful to all the experts and advisers for their contributions, comments, criticism, support and inspiration. This year's research demonstrates ambiguous and divergent trends in the situation of civil society organisations in Europe. While those nations traditionally more friendly to CSOs, like the Netherlands and Italy, are showing less encouraging trends, Lithuania has tried to create more sustainable system to support CSOs. In Bulgaria and Russia, state policy is oriented towards division of the civil society sector and replacement of independent CSOs with those connected with the politicians and state structures. One thing is clear: CSOs in all the countries are now experiencing turbulent times, their value and role in society being questioned. To counter this, they should develop new survival strategies and solutions. These are described in this Report, and together, they provide a picture of how the CSOs are adapting to the new challenges and are able to survive in spite of all the difficulties. The third issue of the annual Report will be published at the beginning of 2019 and will feature Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Romania and Russia. We hope that our efforts in better understanding the civil society will bear results and more effective cooperation and exchange among the civil society organisations of different countries, which will contribute to the resolution of the highlighted challenges of the European civil society.