The European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity was founded in 1993 by social democratic parties and solidarity foundations as a joint institution dedicated to support the transformation and democratisation process in Central and Eastern Europe. The organisation served as a platform for co-operation between social democratic oriented personalities and groups in the region.
In the last few years, the activities of the Forum were less needed in countries on the threshold to EU-membership. The successful development in many of those countries is now used as a source of inspiration – and sometimes as warning – for other East European countries, countries in the Balkans and in the CIS. Today the socialdemocratic parties in the EU countries co-operate directly with their sister parties in candidate countries. These sister parties are very close both to the PES as well as to the social democratic group in the European Parliament.
Most of the West European social democratic parties, organisations and foundations are involved in the endeavour. The Forum co-operates with them in seminars, conferences, missions and publications. Furthermore, it can serve as a platform for consultation and co-ordination both for them as for other organisations, working in the region.
The Forum works with a minimum of administration staff. An excellent co-operation with our partners is therefore indispensable. I wish to extend our warmest thanks to Friedrich Roll, who has been the contact person to the Forum within the PES office, for his dedicated work. Our Secretary General Conny Fredriksson will retire from his post in April 2002. Maaike Timmers has been appointed as co-ordinator of the Forum. We welcome Maaike and look forward to make use of the extensive experiences of Friedrich and Conny in new ways in the future.
President of the Forum
Deputy Prime Minister, Sweden
In 2000 the European Forum was transformed from an informal organisation into an official NGO. It became more independent and transparent. The aim was to profit from that in 2001.
As before, the most important role and function of the Forum was the co-ordination and organisation of activities that supported the development of social democratic and socialist parties and organisations in East Central and South East Europe. Given the situation in the Balkans, in some EU candidate countries and in the western CIS, there was and is still an urgency to continue this work.
In July 2000, in Tirana, the Forum organised, together with the Party of European Socialists, a seminar about party building. The participating parties and politicians came to the conclusion that more co-ordinated efforts should be devoted to the strengthening of socialist and social democratic parties - especially in the Balkan region. These efforts should be aimed at improving social democratic content, at promoting co-operation between the parties and at stimulating internal reform and internal democracy. More transparency was considered essential as well as the introduction of better working methods and new technologies.
Subsequently, it was agreed that the West European democratisation foundations would work at a more precise implementation of the conclusions through a comprehensive training programme. In this way, the Tirana process came into being.
The Renner Institut and the Alfred Mozer Stichting elaborated the Tirana process idea in more detail and came with an extensive proposal. The Forum continued to co-ordinate this important work as reflected in the working programmes 2001 and 2002. Concerning the Tirana process events, the organisation tried to find a balance between political substance and practical content.
The activities in the framework of the EU enlargement formed the second priority. The Forum proposed to concentrate more on the role of labour unions in the EU candidate countries, as this was still considered to be a weak spot.
The third area of importance was the "new border region" of the EU, the western CIS. The emphasis was and is on monitoring the situation, while trying to establish apractical base to work from. Last but not least, we continued our series of seminars on the Roma issue whose predicament in many Central and Eastern European countries needs more attention.
CEE Gender Network still forms a part of the European Forum, although its organisational structure has been decentralised. The country updates and the web site remained our most important means of communication and information.
Special attention was given to the events and activities of the Socialist International (SI) in the region, of IUSY and ECOSY, the youth organisations of SI and PES, of socialist women organisations and the European Trade Union Congress (ETUC).
Throughout 2001, the Forum closely co-operated with the Party of European Socialists (PES) and its parliamentary group, as well as with the foundations close to PES member parties and associate and observer member parties of the PE S.
- SEMINARS ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT
ROUND TABLES IN CO-OPERATION WITH THE PES. "Promoting socialdemocratic cohesion in Serbia": Round Table, Belgrade, FRY, April, 9-10, 2001.
A round table to bring together all interested partners from DOS, the new governing coalition. The event was organised by the Forum, PES and ISTAME – Andreas Papandreou in Belgrade. The aim was to acquaint ourselves better with the new situation in Serbia, to discuss the development of social democracy in the region and consider the organisational options of our partners. "Stabilizing democracy in the Balkans": Round Table, Sofia, Bulgaria, May 19-20, 2001.
This round table concentrated on issues such as internal party democracy, accountability and transparency as well as on the fight against corruption at all levels. The choice of Bulgaria was motivated by the June 2001 national elections.
"Consolidating democracy: local self-government and decentralisation as preconditions for effective democracy". Riga, Latvia, February 10-11, 2001.
Following a request by the Latvian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, a seminar for local politicians in the Baltic capitals was held in Riga just before the local elections. Beside local government questions like housing, public transport and social problems effects of EU entry on candidate countries were discussed. Participants came from the three Baltic states, Sweden and the Netherlands.
- YOUTH SEMINARS
"Future leaders" no. 6. Elva, Estonia, December 13-17, 2000.
This was the sixth seminar in a series which started in Sweden in 1998 and was respectively organised in Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania. The first three mainly concentrated on youth organisations in the EU applicant countries, the last three also included representatives from the Western CIS and the Balkans.
The programme combined practical (campaigning) work with British trainers and theoretical parts with Forum/PES leaders. Like in the foregoing seminars a substantial part was devoted to politics in the hosting country.
"The new political generation: investing in skills". Sofia, Bulgaria, February 27- March 3, 2001.
This was the fourth seminar in the "Networking for Democracy" series done by the Forum. The aim of these seminars is to expand the network of the Forum and to train new contact persons for the Country Updates Editor.
Participants came from Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Montenegro, Albania, Moldova and Slovenia. The practical part was led by trainers from the Alfred Mozer Foundation and introduced the so-called SWOT analysis. EU parliamentarians Hannes Swoboda and Jan Marinus Wiersma contributed with a lecture on the use of internet in politics and an introduction to and discussion about the Stability Pact for the Balkans. A Bulgarian historian was invited to talk about the political situation in Bulgaria.
Just as in our other youth activities the participants have followed up by establishing e-mail networks between themselves and with the Country Updates Editor.
- FIGHTING AGAINST DISCRIMINATION: TACKLING THE ROMA ISSUE
"Integration of the Roma people to majority – experiences and perspectives." Spisska nova ves, Slovakia, December 8-10, 2000.
This conference was organised together with the "Institute for a Solidaric Society" (ISOS) of Slovakia, an institute close to the Social Democratic Party SDL. It was held in a region with a substantial Roma population. Participants came from Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia. Unemployment was the dominant issue. The visit to a neighbouring "ghetto" aroused strong reactions.
"Roma communities in the European integration process". Prague, the Czech Republic, October 26-27, 2001.
This time, the Czech Social Democratic Party was our organisation partner. As can be seen from the title, focus was on the coming integration process. Therefore, participants came from EU countries like Sweden, Belgium and the UK, beside the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Poland. The International Romany Union and the Roma National Congress represented European wide organisations. There was a unanimous opinion that the situation of the Roma is an all-European issue.
- CEE NETWORK FOR GENDER ISSUES
Since 1997, the CEE Network for Gender Issues was operated from an office in Budapest in co-operation with "Hungarian Women´s Association". Since activities had expanded, especially after the introduction of a "gender task force" in the Stability Pact (a CEE network initiative), it was decided early in 2001 to restructure the network. The Budapest office moved into the premises of the Hungarian Socialist Party and became mainly responsible for the Visegrad countries. The former director, Sonja Lokar, moved to Ljubljana and opened a new office for the Balkans, which is now co-operating with the Stability Pact Gender Task Force. Two new part-time offices, in Tallinn for the Baltic region and Belarus – Ukraine, and in Archangelsk for Northwestern Russia, are just about to start their work.
It should be noted that, just like in Budapest, the partner of our network is the Social Democratic Party of the respective host country: the United List in Slovenia and the Möödukad in Estonia. In the case of Archangelsk, however, it is different: in the absence of social democracy the Pomor State University is our local partner.
Since the co-ordinator Sonia Lokar is very much involved with the Stability Pact Gender Task Force, it has often been possible to combine efforts for the former with the CEE Network activities in the Balkans. During the first half of the year thirty such events took place in Ljubljana, Sofia, Sarajevo, Tirana, Belgrade, Podgorica, Skopje, Zagreb and Budapest. As of now, the Norwegian project "Women Can Do It" I and II is well under way in nine countries in the region. A new project, "Youth Can Do It", is being introduced, aimed at Social Democratic youth and women’s organisations.
In the fall of 2001, the Budapest office organised, together with the Czech social democratic women, a conference on women in politics in five Visegrad countries. It will be followed by a seminar with female parliamentarians from the EU and the candidate countries early in 2002 (Budapest).
The Tallinn and Archangelsk offices will start their activities early in 2002, after the financing is clear. The organisational preparations are finished.
- ECONOMIC WORKING GROUP
"Social Policy and Modernisation", Sofia, Bulgaria, April 11, 2001 .
The latest book from the Forum economic group is called "Hard budgets, soft states" and deals with social policy choices in Central and Eastern Europe. The book was translated into Bulgarian. Subsequently, a one-day seminar was organised in Sofia, in co-operation with the " Solidarity Foundation", an institute close to the Bulgarian Socialist Party. A large number of economists and other experts took part in a lively discussion after an introduction by professor Michael Ellman, one of the authors. Hannes Swoboda of the European Parliament also took part.
This book is still in demand in Central and Eastern Europe. Next to come is a translation into Estonian .
- OTHER EVENTS
Fact finding in Romania. Bucharest, October 19-21, 2001.
The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in Romania was asked by the Forum to invite the reshuffled left for a seminar in Romania. Since the political landscape had changed dramatically in 2000, due to the merger of the former Iliescu party with the old Social Democratic Party, it was a matter of urgency for the Socialist International and for the Forum.
- COUNTRY UPDATES AND THE NEWSLETTER
In general, the main means of communication and information were the country updates. The following updates were finished in 2001, distributed via e-mail and published on the web site: Serbia and Montenegro (FR of Yugoslavia), Slovenia, Moldova, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania. Updated: Macedonia.
For the year 2002, the Forum plans to change the structure of the country updates. The reports will be less general and more politically focused. Priority countries: Bosnia and Hercegovina, Poland, Albania, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Russia, Macedonia.
During 2000, the Country Updates Editor had thought of a way to change the set up of the newsletter. The December issue of the newsletter of the year 2000 broke with the tradition that EU politicians write about the other countries. For the first time representatives of parties from countries concerned (Montenegro and Serbia) had been invited to address the audience with their opinion. However, a further policy change was needed. Towards the end of 2001, the first news flashes were sent out, aimed at informing politicians and professionals working in or with the countries in the region. There was a very positive response to the news flashes. It was decided that this information system will be perfected and elaborated during 2002.
Furthermore, the make-up and the address of the web site were changed. New general information about the organisation and its history was included. Current address: www.europeanforum.net . The electoral calendar was abolished in the printed version, but is also available on the web site.
The sources of income for the Forum are contributions from the parties of the Steering Committee. These are mainly used for paying the running costs of the Forum. In 2001 the following parties contributed: SPÖ Austria; CSSD the Czech Republic; SD Denmark; SDP Finland; SPD Germany; MSzP Hungary; DNA Norway, and SAP Sweden. As the auditing report for the year 2001 has at time of publication not yet been completed, we refer for an estimation of the running costs of 2001 to the preliminary budget of 2002 (see below).
The costs of the Forum seminars and conferences were covered by contributions and grants from the democratisation foundations: Westminster Foundation of the Labour Party UK; Alfred Mozer Stichting, PvdA the Netherlands; Fondation Jean Jaurès, PS France; the Olof Palme International Center in Sweden and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung from Germany.
The PES provided administrative and secretarial services. The Austrian government submitted a grant for activities during the year.
Preliminary budget 2002
|Salary Country Updates Editor||€||40.000|
|Salary Secr. Gen. (4 months)||€||4.440|
ANNEX I: LIST OF PARTNERS (MEMBERS OF STEERING COMMITTEE)
CSSD the Czech Republic
Labour Party Great Britain
PvdA The Netherlands
Alfred Mozer Stichting
Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
Fondation Jean Jaurès
Karl Renner Institut
Olof Palme International Center
Istame Andreas Papandreou
ANNEX II: WORKING STRUCTURE 2001 - 2002
European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity
President Lena Hjelm-Wallèn
Treasurer Jan Marinus Wiersma
Secretary General Conny Fredriksson
Country Updates Editor Maaike Timmers
European Forum - Party of European Socialists
Contact person Friedrich Roll
Central and East European Gender Network
Director Sonja Lokar
Staff changes from January 2002
Co-ordinator Maaike Timmers
Advisor Friedrich Roll
Main contact address:
PO BOX 1310
1000 BH Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 5512 122
Fax: +31 20 5512 250
ANNEX III: WORKING PROGRAMME 2002
Strengthening social democracy
As before, the European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity has as its most important role the co-ordination and organisation of activities that support the development of social democratic and socialist parties in east, central and southeastern Europe. Given the situation in the Balkans, in some EU candidate countries and in the western CIS, there is still an urgency to continue this work of the Forum.The work of the European Forum remains based on close co-operation with the PES and its parliamentary group, as well as with the foundations close to PES member parties and associate and observer member parties.
An intrinsic part of the work is the stimulation and facilitation of political debates and discussions amongst party leaderships.
- frontier role/ debate / political platform
- election co-ordination
- ethnic minorities and social democratic answers
- Tirana process / Stability Pact / Balkans
- information service
- party – trade union links
- youth / networking for democracy
Special attention and co-ordination:
Special attention and (if required) co-ordination will be directed to the foundations’ activities in countries, like Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova as well as Georgia and Armenia (Azerbijan).
The year 2002 will be marked by some significant changes within the Forum. More emphasis will be put on co-ordination, less on own activities. There will be a greater reliance on the foundations. The Steering Committee will remain the platform for the exchange of ideas, information and activities involving the parties and the foundations. The co-ordination mechanism of the foundations should deal with the activities with the Forum co-ordinator as liaison.
Concrete restructuring within the European Forum
The co-ordination of the Forum will be concentrated on one spot. From the first of January 2001, Maaike Timmers is the co-ordinator, with an office linked to the Alfred Mozer Foundation in Amsterdam. The creation of some secretarial assistance in Brussels with the PES party is under way. Conny Fredriksson will remain Secretary General until he leaves in April 2002. Both he and Friedrich Roll will remain linked to the Forum as advisors.
The budget will be simplified. The budget line "running costs" will only be used to finance the office and salaries. All activities will have to be cofunded by the foundations and others.
The Forum plans to change the information service (country updates and web site). More emphasis will be put on the changes in the political landscape (within the parties). The recently introduced news update service will be continued and refined. We hope to be able to still provide the foundations and all those working in the region with adequate information. A new working structure is being discussed and tested.
On the basis of the above mentioned new working method, we propose the following Forum activities for next year. For each activity an advance input – output analysis, a clear budget and a clear division of responsibility should be made.
ACTIVITIES EUROPEAN FORUM 2002
Frontier debate / political platform:
- St. Petersburg, Russia.
Prospects of Democracy in Russia; political, social and economic trends in the Russian Federation. New frontiers of EU debate. May. In co-operation with FES Moscow.
- Brasov, Romania
Roma and the EU: a working plan. Confronting the issue. Autumn.
- Belgrade, Serbia
"Regional co-operation and reconciliation". To be worked out. Request from SDU, Social Democracy. June.
Party – trade union links
- Baltic States, Lithuania, Latvia
The relationship and co-operation between parties and trade unions; promoting social dialogue. Workshop / consensus building. July.
Networking for Democracy:
- Belgrade, Serbia
Networking for Democracy in the Balkans. Sofia Follow up. Youth training seminar. March.
- Place to be fixed.
New border countries. Youth training seminar. Autumn.
To be filled in – together with the foundations
CIS and Caucasus
a separate calendar on the foundation’s activities in the CIS and Caucasus countries will follow.
- Tallinn, Estonia
"Hard Budgets, Soft States". Translation into Estonian and seminar on the book. Taken over from 2001. April. Forum activity. Conny Fredriksson is responsible.
Year 2002 Gender Network
- Further regionalisation of the Gender Network. Start operation of Archangelsk, Tallinn and Ljubljana office.
- Building social contract for justice and equality in the post-conflict region. Training in Novi Sad. March/April.
- The social and economic status of women in North Western Russia. Workshop. Archangelsk, June.
- Accession for additional countries. Follow-up to Budapest meeting. September.
- Bulgaria, Sofia
March 31 Ukraine; parliamentary elections
April, 7 Hungary; parliamentary elections
June The Czech Republic; parliamentary elections
Latvia; presidential elections
Albania; presidential elections
September Slovakia; parliamentary elections
October Bosnia and Hercegovina; parliamentary elections
November Slovenia; parliamentary elections
ANNEX IV: COMMUNICATION STRATEGY 2002
At the end of 2001, a request for the development of a clear communication message for the Forum came from the Steering Committee. Jan Marinus Wiersma, the treasurer, made the following set-up.
The European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity was founded by the PES and the SI to be its ‘detective’ in Central and Eastern Europe. Its function was to identify and organise support for new social democratic parties and/ or personalities, seeking to ally themselves with the SI. In this set-up the Forum was to be a loose organisation managed through a steering committee by the parties that directly or indirectly finance its activities. It was supposed to work closely together with the party foundations. Since its start the European Forum has indeed worked on this basis. With considerable success. Many parties from Central and Eastern Europe have beenintegrated into the European social democratic family. Some of them are now member of the Forum themselves. The identification process was followed by a phase of practical support. Currently, the priority lies with the debate about our shared values and their applicability in post-communist societies. The PES has a prime responsibility to promote and stimulate this debate.
The European Forum, being an independent institution, can nevertheless still not be missed. Two practical advantages are that the organisation can work without binding the SI or the PES and can raise funds where parties can not. On the other "political" side, there are still many situations where the Forum can do advance work. Thisapplies first of all to the future EU border regions to the East and to the South East where the political landscapes are still very volatile. For the time being, it remains unclear which political formations are and will be entitled to carry the social democratic flag. Furthermore, in some EU candidate countries the identification process has not been completed. Finally, there are relatively unchartered territories like Russia, Turkey or the Caucasus. The working programme of the European Forum for 2002 clearly mirrors these partially new priorities.
The Forum has shown to be a valuable instrument for exchange of information and for the internal evaluation of certain parties. A substantial part of this information has been made openly available through the web site.
Streamlining and communication
Recently the internal organisation of the Forum was streamlined to make the co-operation with the parties and the foundations more effective. So, a renewed organisation with new priorities. It should be the core of our communication, including the following:
- Publication of the new approach through our web site and in a series of letters to party leaders, international secretaries, the boards of the foundations.
- More frequent communication to a larger audience by e-mail. New target groups could be: all socialist MEP’s, all national MP spokespersons or ministers who deal with Eastern Europe. The emphasis should be on insider information.
- Presentation of a pre written article about the Forum to all parties periodicals and newsletters of the foundations.
- Personal approach to the presidents of SI, PES and PES Parliamentary Group to lobby for the Forum.
- Broadening of the participation in Forum activities.
- Presentation of the Forum at SI and PES Council meetings.
- Article in the PES Yearbook or preparation of a small publication about the Forum ourselves.
- Revival of the network with organisations like the OSI or the NDI.