Civil society forum in Raseiniai brings together young professionals from Central and Eastern Europe

The opening of the Forum took place on 23 July in Vilnius, but its major events were held at the Raseiniai Local History Museum – a symbolic site for historical memory in Europe: The museum building used to serve for detention of political prisoners in 1932-1952. By that, the succession format of the Forum was underlined: In 2012, a similar event took place at the “Perm-36” Museum (Russia).

’”Europe Lab” turned out to be a dignified continuation of the International Civil Forum ”Pilorama” initiated and carried out by the NGO ”Perm-36” since 2005 and discontinued by the authorities in 2013,’ says Tatiana Kursina, guest of honour at the Forum, Executive Director at the NGO “Perm-36”.

‘For my colleagues and me, that was a positive surprise to see the ”History of a Camp” Exhibition in Raseiniai. This exposition was created at “Perm-36” as early as in 2013, but last year, after an infamous report on the Russian NTV Channel, the new management of the museum shut down the exhibition. That was a chilling feeling to see the exhibition, which fell victim to repressions in our motherland, here.’

”Europe Lab” speakers were Julius von Freytag-Loringhoven, Project Director at the Moscow Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Germany-Russia); Olga Karach, Founder and Leader of the Civic Initiative “Our House” (Belarus-Lithuania); András Pethő, investigative journalist and editor at the Direkt36 Portal (Hungary); Lilia Shibanova, Executive Director of the “Golos” Association (Russia-Lithuania); Ionuț Sibian, Executive Director at the Civil Society Development Foundation, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (Romania-Belgium), and others.

Workshops built up the keystone of the Programme. As their coordinators, organisers invited representatives of the members in the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum – Antikomplex (Czech Republic, historical memory); the Stefan Batory Foundation (Poland) and UNITED for Intercultural Action (Netherlands, visas and migration); INTERRA (Russia, urban space), and Transparency International Lithuania (corruption).

In the course of the workshops, the participants formulated ideas for their joint projects. In particular, young professionals were interested in such questions as different views on the history of the World War II, testimonies of witnesses of the Soviet Union collapse, communication in local communities, city tours for migrants, corruption in universities and the healthcare system… Now the participants are welcome to forward their project proposals until 15 August. A competent jury will have selected best projects by September.

‘We are happy that we succeeded in reviving a Forum for Young Professionals at a new site after three years passed since the last meeting,’ sums up Sergei Tereshenkov, project coordinator, PR Coordinator at the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. ‘We eagerly expect proposals for the projects, whose results will be presented on 7-9 December 2015 at the 6th General Assembly of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in Budapest. Besides, we – along with our participants – hope to launch a permanent young professionals’ platform at the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum.’

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