Three platforms of non-profit organisations present the main priorities for the Czech EU presidency

Published: Jun 21, 2022 Reading time: 6 minutes
Three platforms of non-profit organisations present the main priorities for the Czech EU presidency
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Tomorrow, the government will begin the Czech EU presidency with a slogan referring to Václav Havel's essay "Europe as a task". The NGO platforms FoRS - Czech Forum for Development Cooperation, DEMAS - Association for the Promotion of Human Rights and Democracy, and the Migration Consortium summarise what they consider to be the critical issues in their respective thematic areas during the Czech Presidency.

The Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU comes at a time when the need to strengthen security, resilience, and expressions of solidarity is ever more urgent in the wake of Russian aggression in Ukraine. It is correct that topics related to the need to respond to the war in Ukraine and those of building and strengthening democracy are the main priorities of the Czech Presidency.

The war in Ukraine has led to Europe facing the most significant wave of migration since the Second World War. To cope with this crisis, there is a need to address the long-term integration of migrants into the Member States' societies and support their social and economic potential. However, the war in Ukraine is also a threat to food security, which is particularly affecting regions in the Middle East and Africa that have already been plagued by long-term crises. It is therefore essential to strengthen the resilience of the populations in these regions through humanitarian aid and long-term development cooperation, but also through action to respect their human rights and democratic values.

European democratic institutions are also under pressure at the EU level and in some Member States. To maintain stability, it is necessary not only to strengthen democratic mechanisms within the EU but also to promote human rights, civil society, and the principles of good governance and the rule of law in the world, especially in our neighbourhood - in the Eastern Partnership countries and the Western Balkans.

FoRS, DEMAS, and the Migration Consortium, which brings together dozens of NGOs, will strive to ensure that the Czech Republic takes on the Presidency with honour and that it continues to approach its commitments and current needs as responsibly as possible after the end of the Presidency. They will actively offer their expertise during the Presidency (and organise a number of their public events, including cooperation with the state administration and EU representatives.

Pavel Přibyl, Director of FoRS, adds: “We appreciate the Czech government's attitude towards the need to help in the context of the conflict in Ukraine. However, there is a need to help and build resilience elsewhere, including in areas of the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa that are crucial for Europe, affected by food and climate crises. Here, however, Czech humanitarian and development aid has been rather scarce, and risks remain. The Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU is an opportunity to become a more active country in the humanitarian and development agenda than it has been so far. With a contribution of 0.13% of GNI to official development aid per year, we are at the bottom of the rankings within the OECD DAC club of advanced donors and the EU Member States. The comparably populous Sweden, which will take over the EU presidency from the Czech Republic, provides 20 times as much in official development aid as our country."

Sabina Malcová, Director of DEMAS, further notes, "Today, when we are witnessing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is more important than ever to strengthen transformational cooperation. It is not only about protecting fundamental rights and freedoms and promoting democratic values, but it is also about strengthening civil society, free media, good governance, and the rule of law."

Andrea Krchová, Director of the Migration Consortium, says: "It is important for us that humanitarian disasters do not take place beyond the EU's borders; that journeys to Europe are at least relatively safe; and that migration-related problems are not condemned where human rights are not respected. During the Czech Presidency, the Czech Republic should seek to discuss legal migration routes (5)."

Notes:

On organisations:

FoRS - Czech Forum for Development Cooperation (www.fors.cz) is a platform of 34 organisations. Its members include domestic NGOs and think tanks, national sections of international organisations, universities, and other entities focused on foreign development cooperation, humanitarian aid, education and information on development issues.

The Consortium of NGOs Working with Migrants (www.migracnikonsorcium.cz) represents 15 NGOs working with refugees or on issues related to the integration of foreigners. It coordinates the exchange of experiences and the definition of common goals among member organisations and initiates communication between politicians, officials, educational institutions, academics and foreign experts.

DEMAS - The Association for the Promotion of Democracy and Human Rights (www.demas.cz) is a platform of 14 Czech NGOs that focus on promoting basic human rights, democracy, civil society, free media, good governance and the rule of law in third countries.

Information on the issues and contacts to experts from their ranks will be provided by:

FoRS:

- Pavel Pribyl, Director, pavel.pribyl@fors.cz, tel. 603 207 249

- Kateřina Kunz, Policy Officer, katerina.kunz@fors.cz, tel. 725 439 847

DEMAS:

- Sabina Malcová, Director, sabina.dvorakova@demas.cz, tel. 774 490 824

- Vít Dostál, Director, Association for International Affairs (AMO), vit.dostal@amo.cz, tel. 224

813 460

Consortium of NGOs working with migrants:

- Andrea Krchová, Director, krchova@migracnikonsorcium.cz, tel. 777 231 668

- Barbora Chrzová, Policy Officer, chrzova@migracnikonsorcium.cz, tel. 605 545 823

(3) Overview and dates of the main planned events (2022) for the professional public:

22-23/6: Czech Eastern Policy: two-day event on the Czech Republic's comprehensive approach to the Eastern Europe region. Organised by AMO.

August: Roundtable on Assistance to Democracy Defenders in Myanmar for Czech legislators and government representatives. Organised by Transparency International.

31/8-2/9: 26th annual Forum 2000 conference entitled "Democracy's Clear and Present Danger: How Do We Respond?". Organised by the Forum 2000 Foundation.

8-9/9: Roundtable with civil society from the Western Balkan countries. Organised by CEELI Institute.

9-10/11: International Conference "Resilience as a Task: How to assist populations of fragile regions to cope with complex crises?". Organised by FoRS.

23/11: Festival of Global Development Education including the launch of the International Declaration.

"Global Education 2050". Organised by FoRS.

December: "Universities for Development". Presentation of FoRS member universities' activities in the field of international development cooperation to actors from the non-profit, private and public spheres. Organised by FoRS.

(4) Summary of where the Czech Republic stands internationally in humanitarian and development cooperation funding:

full summary

(5) On the topic of legal migration:

Strengthening common pathways for legal migration would help reduce irregular migration, disrupt smuggling practices, reduce human trafficking and labour exploitation, increase equal opportunities for all workers and offer a legal route for those considering migration to the EU. For example, see the European Parliament resolution of May 2021.

Contact:

Kateřina Kosmatová, FoRS Communications Coordinator, katerina.kosmatova@fors.cz, tel. 724 384 819


Author: FORS

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