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Civil Society Dialogue with Turkey

Bringing Turkish and EU NGOs together to make them stronger: an international conference in Istanbul will discuss “Citizens Media for Intercultural and Political Dialogue” this coming weekend. EM Germany’s Secretary General Bernd Hüttemann, board member of EM International, will give a speech on “Civil Society Dialogue between the European Union and Turkey”.

The organisers of the event, YOUTHART Art Research and Training Association and Bürgerhaus Bennohaus, an EM Germany member organisation, aim to establish a Community Media Center in Istanbul, to create an Online Multimedia Platform and to promote a series of local community workshops and international media conferences. Stakeholder managers, delegates of official and private institutions, civil society representatives, academics, students and journalists will take part in the kick-starting conference.

Civil Society Dialogue (CSD) is a programme gathering civil society organisations from the EU and Turkey around some common topics. Co-funded by the Republic of Turkey and the EU (Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance, IPA), this dialogue programme is supposed to increase exchange of experience and knowledge transfer as well as fostering a sustainable network between European and Turkish civil society organisations.

Progress in Civil Society Dialogue

The process leading to Turkey becoming a member of the EU has been conducted at governmental level with adaptations made for the EU Acquis and a framework of legal reforms. Within this framework, cooperation and mutual understanding between EU and Turkish citizens play a complementary role. Accordingly, in order to boost intercultural dialogue, in 2005 the European Union identified a priorities’ strategy to strengthen civil society dialogue amongst candidate countries and EU non-governmental organisations. The implementation of this strategy called “Civil Society Dialogue” plays as important a role as the adaptations for the EU Acquis and the reform implementation process do. Ideally, Civil Society Dialogue can also lead to better knowledge of policies, principles and values of the EU amongst Turkish citizens. In order to achieve these purposes, voluntary organisations such as foundations, associations, professional organisations, citizen initiatives, cooperatives and unions represent the target groups of the CSD.

In 2009, an EU and Turkey Civil Society Dialogue Project I (CSD I), run by the Turkish Secretariat General for the European Union (EUSG), promoted the development of dialogue formats between municipalities, universities, professional organisations and youth groups between Turkey and the EU. This programme was completed in November 2009 with 119 projects being awarded with grants totaling 19,5 Million Euro.
Two years later, the 2011 CSD II had the overall objective to better understand the Republic of Turkey in the EU, including Turkish history and culture in order to raise awareness about the opportunities and challenges for future EU enlargements. This programme is carried out by the Turkish Ministry for EU Affairs with a grant fund of 5,3 Million Euro. The project is designed to improve dialogue between organisations working in the area of culture and arts as well as agriculture-fisheries in EU and Turkey.

Continuing the previous civil society dialogue projects, “Strengthening Civil Society Dialogue between the EU and Turkey (CSD III)” was launched on May 20, 2013. The main purpose of this current programme is:
• to make Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Turkey familiar with the policies of the EU regarding political issues both in terms of legislation and implementation;
• to be prepared for Turkey’s EU-accession by strengthening contacts and mutual exchange of experience between all civil society players focussing mainly on political issues in the member states and Turkey.

 Civil Society Dialogue IIAccordingly, Civil Society Organisations play a crucial part in trying to minimise differences between national and European legislation and implementation practices. The priority areas of this grant programme are human rights, anti-discrimination, democracy and rule of law.

If you wish to keep up with latest news from the conference, please visit their Facebook Page.

Press release in German / Pressemitteilung des Veranstalters undProgramm der Konferenz.

Der EBD-Überblick zum Themenschwerpunkt Europapolitik in der Türkei

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