|Olga Stuzhinskaya, Mikheil Mirziashvilimembers of the EaP CSF Steering Committee|
An Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) Election Task Force, made up of election and civil society experts from Eastern Partnership and EU countries, was launched in Yerevan at the occasion of Armenia’s presidential elections on 18 February. The purpose of the Task Force during its visit to Armenia was to learn in-depth about the observation activities of the Armenian National Platform of the Civil Society Forum, and to assist the latter in the presentation and dissemination of its findings and conclusions.
Over the course of a week, the CSF Election Task Force, composed of eight individuals from Belarus, Georgia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Austria and the UK, advised local CSOs in their observation of the electoral process and exchanged best practices. Task Force experts held meetings with a range of political parties, civil society organisations, media and representatives of the diplomatic community in Yerevan, as well in the regions.
Building capacity of local observers will remain the focus of the Election Task Force in the years ahead. Following its successful launch in Yerevan, this initiative of the EaP CSF will be further developed, with international experts ready to advise CSOs in Eastern Partnership countries on globally-accepted election observation practices, as well as communication strategies. As a result, civil society groups will be better equipped to fulfil their monitoring and watchdog role in the reform process of the EaP region.
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum will be closely cooperating with the newly formed European Platform for Democratic Elections whose representatives took part in the observation of the presidential election in Armenia. The statement of the European Platform for Democratic Elections on the 2013 Armenian election is available here (http://epde.org/index.php/newsreader/items/epde-statement-on-presidential-elections-in-armenia-18-february-2013.html).
The Eastern Partnership is a European Union initiative directed at six countries of Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. It aims at tightening the relationship between the EU and the Eastern partners by deepening their political co-operation also in the field of developing practices. The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (CSF) (http://www.eap-csf.eu/) was established in 2009 to promote contacts among civil society actors and facilitate their dialogue with public authorities.