Excerpt from the ‘Information on the Federal Foreign Office Programme “Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia”’
The programme “Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia” enables civil society organisations and the members of the public active in them to play their part as key actors and important partners of governance and to support the ongoing transformation processes in the region. The German Government wants to use cultural relations and education policy instruments in order to enable discussion and understanding outside the realm of politics and across national borders on nations’ dreams and traumas and the conflict ridden past, but also on hopes for development and social and societal progress.
This can only be achieved if as many dedicated actors as possible from a country’s rural regions and urban centres are given the opportunity to enhance social cohesion and the establishment of civil society structures and to promote the principles of a fundamentally free, democratic and pluralist order, thus fostering peaceful coexistence among nations in Europe in the future.
What are the aims? The German Government is funding measures that provide comprehensive support to the necessary transformation and internal integration processes via collaboration between German civil society and civil societies in the Eastern Partnership countries and Russia. This spans the entire range of cultural and civic education projects (with a focus on media, academia, education including vocational training, culture, language and work with young people).
The measures that are eligible for funding are therefore those that establish or further permanent civil society cooperation structures between actors from Germany and the Eastern Partnership countries or Russia. Furthermore, the projects must – reach as many civil society actors as possible (including via multipliers) and – pursue one of the following additional goals:
1. „Strengthening pluralism“ –
Establishing and furthering pluralism of information, opinion and the media
This funding goal involves media projects. The concept of pluralism is a key and constituent element of modern democracies. Their legitimacy primarily lies in the recognition of and respect for the wide range of opinions, interests and goals found in society. Accordingly, funding will be provided to projects that serve to establish and further a pluralist media landscape. Given the fundamental importance of a free media landscape for creating democracy and the rule of law, one focus of the funding will be on media projects. Suitable measures thus include training and further training of journalists, bloggers and other media actors in the countries in question, as well as work placement programmes in Germany for journalists. Projects to enhance media competence, e.g. via suitable measures in schools and universities or in the field of civic education, are also eligible for funding.
2. „Promoting the discussion of values“ –
Strengthening values through civil society dialogue and cultural measures
Exchange and cultural projects can be funded under this goal in particular. An honest dialogue on similarities, but also on differences, is the basis of both internal integration processes and national partnerships. Such dialogue always takes place where people meet, talk and cooperate. Exchange on fundamental values, such as respect for human rights, the legitimacy of the administration, the independence of the judiciary, the right of the individual to life and self-determination, as well as the principle of majority decision, are particularly important in times of political tensions. Measures that teach and enhance the values listed above through civil society exchange or cultural measures thus also qualify for funding. These include measures that facilitate dialogue and meetings between civil society groups, as well as a large number of formats from all areas of cultural life primarily aimed at teaching the values mentioned above.
3. „Opening up prospects for the future“ –
Academic, professional and socio-political training and further training measures
The focus here is on training and further training projects. Everyone, particularly young people, fundamentally needs to have prospects for their own economic, societal and social progress and to be able to see chances for themselves and their environment to develop and thrive. The motivation for all societal, political and social engagement for one’s own country stems from this. Training and further training are the foundations on which all people build their personal dreams and prospects for the future.Academic, professional and socio-political training and further training measures, including via the awarding of scholarships, are thus eligible for funding. The target group is primarily, but not exclusively, young people.
4. „Fostering dialogue and understanding“ –
Rebuilding trust lost as a result of territorial conflicts
This funding goal involves measures which, against the backdrop of unresolved territorial conflicts, aim to restore the necessary trust outside the realm of politics between societies whose states are parties to a territorial conflict. Unresolved territorial conflicts and tensions resulting from different historical narratives in the region have also led to deep rifts among the civil societies in and between the countries. In particular, the gap between how people perceive themselves and how they are perceived by others, as well as issues concerning the integration of minorities, play a special role in this. This leads to a mutual loss of trust, the development and deepening of prejudices, and a lack of willingness to conduct dialogue. In order to counteract this, we need people and organisations that endeavour to understand the other side’s point of view and develop a willingness to compromise from this understanding. Civilsociety cooperation measures that use instruments from the fields of culture and education with the aim of restoring the willingness to conduct dialogue, rebuilding understanding between groups affected by territorial conflicts, and thus restoring lost trust and overcoming prejudices, are therefore eligible for funding.