First Central and Eastern European Social and Environmental Forum

From 2 to 5 May 2013 the first Central and Eastern European Social and Environmental Forum (CEESF) took place in Vienna, Austria. About 150 participants from 12 European countries discussed along the title “Revolts in the Periphery?” both the economic and political situation of central and eastern European countries during the current financial crisis.

Thematically the forum was structured by four main topics:

  1. The economic, social and ecological situation in Central and Eastern Europe
  2. Reflections of the negative economic, social and ecological developments in the political sphere: reduction of democracy; corruption; rise of the far Right, etc.
  3. Concrete alternatives (resistance) against austerity measures
  4. How can the international cooperation of the movements be organized for another world in a better way?

The question of gender equality was considered to be transversal, meaning that it was supposed to be particularly considered in each of the four topics.
Already the opening debate “Which Europe do we want?” showed the controversial approach to the European Union and the European social model. While Alexander Buzgalin (Alternativy-Russia) argued that the European welfare state would be an improvement to the aggressive capitalistic model in Russia, Isabelle Bourboulon (Attac France) and Walter Baier (transform! europe) pointed out that this particular western-European social model is undergoing a deep crisis due to neoliberal policy advocated by the European Union and its member states. To counter this development Monika Vana (Die Grünen Vienna) argued for a deeper European integration. The debate was a great start because it showed the mutual need to discuss political questions in order to develop a mutual understanding and further common strategies.
Other highlights of the CEESF were debates on right-whing extremism and populism in Europe. Especially regional focuses that analysed the actual developments in Hungary (presented by Attac Hungary), Russia (Iosif Abramson) and the Ukraine (Sergej Kirichuk, Borotba) enriched the discussion and underlined the increased significance of these topics in these countries. A discussion on the economic development in Europe (“Another Economy for another Europe? The economic and social situation in Eastern Europe and the Euro-crisis”) raised the interest of the participants as well.
In the declaration adopted by the participants the focus was once again laid on the four axes (environment, right-whing extremism, economy and women and culture). Critically needs to be mentioned that during the forum the question of gender equality and environment were not covered sufficiently. Despite this fact the forum was an important step towards an increased cooperation between central and eastern European activists to share their different political backgrounds and cultures and to develop common political strategies.

Find the Common declaration of the Central- and Eastern European Social and Environmental Forum as .pdf on the right (Documentation)