Situation of Ukrainian civil society in the context of European aspirations of Ukraine

At the Vilnius Summit, which took place on 28-29 November 2013, it was expected that Ukraine, as the first of the EaP countries, would sign the Association Agreement, including Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, with the European Union. However, the Ukrainian Government, rather unexpectedly, took the decision to temporarily suspend the process of preparations for signature of the Association Agreement. This decision caused political turmoil and instability in the whole country, with, to this day, far-reaching political consequences.

Hence, the current developments within the Ukrainian civil society are much more dynamic and dramatic than in any other Eastern Partnership country. The landscape of civil society organisations in Ukraine is very rich, they represent different opinions and are close to different political currents. Moreover, the influence of civil society on the decision of the former government to stop preparations to the signature of Association Agreement is ambiguous and requires further clarification.

On the other hand, it is obvious that the Maidan revolution and the resulting political change are a direct consequence of civil society activities, its extraordinary mobilisation and pressure. The specificity of Maidan movement and its special significance for Europe lies in the fact that it mobilised Ukrainian citizens in favour of the European aspirations of their country, which is unique in the history of the EU. The above-mentioned, as well as the recent dramatic developments require an in-depth analysis and evaluation of the current situation and future perspectives for the civil society organizations in Ukraine.

Last but not least, it is important for the EESC to clearly identify its partners within the Ukrainian civil society, taking into consideration the fact that the political part of the EU Association Agreement with Ukraine has just been signed. The provisions of the Association Agreement foresee the establishment of a Civil Society Platform, which shall consist of members of the EESC, on one side, and representatives of the Ukrainian civil society, on the other side, as a forum for both parties to meet and exchange views.