SETTING UP OF THE ESF 2004

 

EUROPEAN WORKING GROUP "ENLARGEMENT TO THE CEEC"

 

Report and decisions taken by a Working Group's meeting at the European Preparation Assembly (AEP) in Istanbul, April 16-18 2004

 

The meeting was held at the initiative of the old II ESF 2003 Working Group "Enlargement to the East", on the basis of the balance-sheet and proposals after the Paris Saint-Denis II ESF (8-pages document distributed previously in English, French and Polish on the different electronic lists; see proposals in part E of that document) and the letter of April 7 to the Istanbul Social Forum, the UK Organising Committee and the ESFEAST List (see Appendix below)

 

A) Were present at this meeting (some for the first time in a ESF space):

 

- from Hungary: Horvath Balazs - Indymedia, Young Greens; Tracey Wheatley Protect the Future, Another World is Possible Network; Matyas Benyik - Attac Hungary, Foundation of Hungarian Social Forum; Endre Simo LAET (People Living Under Social Minimum Level), TET (Council for Harmonisation of Social Interests), Hungarian Social Forum; Martin Cirill Osir - Association of  Public Personages for Gypsies of B-A-Z County;

 

- from Romania: Peter Damo - Initiative Committee for the Romanian Social Forum;

 

- from Bulgaria: Ivan Tishev - Attac Bulgaria, BEPA (member of an european network), BGRF (Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation); Christina Haralanova - Internet Rights Bulgaria; Mathieu Lutfy - Internet Rights Bulgaria;

 

- from Poland: Stefan Bekier - Polish monthly "The New Worker" (foreign correspondent, living in France); nobody could come directly from the country, because of the preparation of the Anti-Summit demonstration and the counter-conference in Warsaw April 29-30;

 

- from Turkey: Levent Duran and Ozer Kayseriliogh - activists of the Istanbul Social Forum

 

- from UK: Kate Hudson - UK ESF Organising Committee, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmement; Alan Freeman - Conference of Socialist Economists; Daniel Cooley - Babels Network;

 

- from Italy: Franco Russo - Italian Social Forum

 

- from France: Rapha묠Volovitch - CRID (Development Research and Information Center); Christophe Hod鼯SPAN> � Espaces Marx (independent social research institute), Transform! Network;

 

- from Austria: Leo Gabriel - Austrian Social Forum, Euromarches;

 

- from Denmark - Lars Bohn - Attac Denmark

 

- from Germany: Erhard Crome - Initiative for a Social Forum in Germany

 

B) Discussed topics:

 

1. Setting up of the European Working Group "Enlargement to the CEEC", together with the opening and enlargment of the existing electronic list ESFEAST

 

2. Solidarity Fund

 

3. Problem raised by Hungarian activists

 

It was no enough time to discuss the other proposed items (the ESF 2003 balance-sheet, first "Program" proposals, criteria for choosing speakers, situation of the ESF coordinations in the CEEC). The proposal is to continue the discussion of those items after the Istanbul EPA on the electronical lists.

 

C) Setting up of the European Working Group "Enlargment to the CEEC"

 

C.1) It has been a consensus to say that the old "Eastern European Program Coordination"  -  formed in May 2002 at the European Preparing Assembly (EPA) in Viena and led mainly by Endre Simo  -  belongs to the past and has no reason to continue its existence. It has been set up in 2002 as a first step to help the process of Enlargement to the CEEC in the preparation of the I ESF 2002 in Florence. After Florence, it has been maintained and worked together with the II ESF 2003 Working Group "Enlargment to the East" and different national ESF coordination committees (in Poland, Hungary and Russia) and networks in other CEEC.

 

Now, in order to prepare the III ESF in London, the Enlargment to the CEEC has to be developed from now as a fully european process, involving movements and networks from all the CEEC and also from some Western countries. It was one of the main proposals of the II ESF 2003 Working Group balance-sheet mentioned above.

 

For this reason, it was also a consensus to say that it is necessary:

 

- to set an European Working Group "Enlargment to the CEEC", an open space as all other ESF spaces, activities and preparatory processes, but at the same time being a relly operating working group, with a restreint number of people as indicated below, with the function of helping and co-ordinating the preparation of the next European Preparatory Assemblies and the III ESF in London from the point of view of the participation of the social movements from the CEEC; as in case of other ESF European Working Groups (Program and Practicalities/Organisation), it is a space with the purpose only to help in the preparation of the ESF and not a decisionary structure; all final decisions will be taken by the European Preparatory Assemblies;

 

- and, simultaneously, to open more and enlarge the existing ESFEAST electronic list to as many as possible trade unions, movements, networks and associations in all the CEEC, in order to associate them to the ESF process ;

 

 

- the European Working Group "Enlargment to the CEEC" will distribute on the large ESFEAST electronic list all its proposals, decisions, discussed documents, important documents from other ESF networks; in other words, it will work in a transparent, open way; all subscribers to the large ESFEAST electronic list can of course express their opinions, proposals and critics on the large list but also directly to the European Working Group;

 

- at each EPA (the next in Berlin 17-20 of June), the European Working Group will held an open meeting; between two EPAs, it will communicate and work on its own electronical list.

 

C.2) The European Working Group (EWG) "Enlargment to the CEEC" will be composed of:

 

a) 2 (and maximum 3 representatives) of each national unitarian coordination  -  existing up to now in Poland, in Russia and in Hungary (in this last country in a conflictual situation, see below point E-e), or in process of formation, as for exemple in Czech Republic and Romania;

 

b) 1 or if possible 2 representatives of movements/networks/associations from other CEEC where it is still no unitarian coordination;

 

c) some activists of the old II EFS Working Group "Enlargment to the East", which presented the II ESF balance-sheet mentioned above (ie. Elisabeth Gauthier, St鰨anie Legoff, Eric Aragon and Denis Paillard from France, Carine Cl魥nt from Russia, Endre Simo from Hungary, Stefan Bekier from France/Poland, Alfons Bech from Catalonia/Spain; see points A1 and A2 of the balance-sheet about those activists);

 

d) 2 representatives of ESF coordinations in the Western countries (or more in case of UK which organises the III ESF) ; some of them were already present at the meeting (see the list above), and some will join the Working Group after this Istanbul EPA (the representatives of the Greek Social Forum already asked to join).

 

It would represent maybe about 30-35 people.

 

C.3) The first steps agreed are:

 

a) setting-up of an electronic list of this new EWG; our new Bulgarian friends, Christina and Mathieu, proposed their experience and their association Internet Rights Bulgaria (networking bulgarian NGOs, www.ngo-bg.org, www.socialrights.org)  to do it and administrate it as webmasters or moderators; the list has been already set-up; its adress is esf-ceec-wg@ngo-bg.org ;

 

b) Christina and Mathieu will become also webmasters of the large ESFEAST list (administrated up to now by two Hungarian activists) ; it is actually some 130 subscribers on this list, mainly Hungarians ( ~ 50), Polish (~ 20), Russians (~ 16), froms Western countries (~ 20), etc.; in order to actualise this list, they will soon send this list to all subscribers asking for confirmation or unsuscribing, together with a short presentation of the activist and of the movements he/she represents (we still don't know very well each other, new networks are joining); the old ESFEAST yahoo list will function still some weeks until the setting-up of the new list;  the working group email discussion list will be open and its existence mentioned on the ESFEAST large list so the people who want to join the WG discussions could do it ;

 

c) Christina and Mathieu will enter in touch with the RAS internet social network, which supports many of the ESF and other social european electronic lists since Florence and Paris Saint-Denis, in order to benefit from the experience of those (and other) social networks and co-operate with them; the existence of other lists should be mentioned on both EWG and  ESFEAST large lists to make it easier for people to join other discussions and reduce the necessity of forwarding FSE-ESF list mails.

 

d) start the preparation of the next Berlin EPA end of June, ie. a huge plenary meeting of the EWG with the participation of as many CEEC and movements as possible;

 

e) discuss on electronic lists the topics for which it was no enough time in Istanbul.

 

D) Solidarity Fund (SF)

 

Purpose : to help in financing the travel, accomodation (and some other) expenses for the movements from the CEEC, the Global South and the movements so-called "No-Vox", the more oppressed and exploited sectors in western countries (unemployed, homeless, without documents, etc.).

 

Kate Hudson is one of the British activists in charge of this question in the UK Organising Committee.

 

We had a first discussion on the criteria of constitution of the SF (it was no time to discuss the criteria of allocation, another item to discuss also on electronical lists).

 

In the Paris ESF II, 10% of the registration fees have been destinated to the SF. It represented an amount of approx. 40.000 ?. This amount have been considered as not sufficient already by the French Organising Secretariat, the majority of the 60.000 individual participants in the II ESF payed the lower, symbolic price of 3 ? .

 

It was a proposal to increase the SF as a percentage (to define) of the total London ESF budget, and not only of the individual registration fees (the above 40.000 ? represented only 0,7 % of the total Paris saint-Denis ESF budget which was 5-6 mln ?). And at the same time, to institue a progressive scale of financial contribution of the organisations (not only individuals), in function of the annual income of "big", "medium" and "small" organisations.

 

Kate Hudson explained that the Londn ESF budget will be much lower than in Paris (2-3 mln ?), without public/municipal subventions as in Italy or in France; but the registration fees will be much higher, and then we have to make a calculation which system is better to increase the SF, and find an appropriate method.

 

It was also a first discussion about other eventual sources of financing, as for exemple UE funds for european events, funds for young people, Trilog funds, Soros foundations, trade unions contributions, other european networks contributions (Transform!, Attac, Unemployed People Euromarches, etc.); exemples: Polish Attac bus financed by Attac France, travel costs and accomadtion of trade unions delegations from Serbia, Bosnia-Hertzegovina, Kosova, Croatia and Slovenia financed by both the French CGT and the catalan Comisiones Obreras.

 

It has been said that, concerning the Soros Foundations, it is possible to search for financing but at the strict condition of preserving the total political, organisational and financial independence of the alterglobalist movements from Soros networks; the same concerning the UE sources.

 

Tracey Whitley and Leo Grabriel, together with somebody from the UK Organising Committee, will explore those eventual possibilities, considered clearly as being only an additional source of financing, complementary to main one which is the ESF Solidarity Fund.

 

E) A problem raised by Hungarian activists

 

Mathias Benyik raised the problem that the movements he is representing "lack of confidence in Endre Simo", who led the old Eastern Europe Program Coordination. He mentioned the existence of a hard conflict in Hungary with problems of lack of transparency, financing, who is representing Hungary, etc. Tracey Whitley added that the problem is that Endre Simo has the confidence of the ESF foreign organisers but not in Hungary.

 

About 45 minutes have been devoted to discuss this important problem, despite the fact that it was not on the agenda. Endre Simo spoke about the history of the Eastern European Program Coordination since the EPA in Viena in april 2002, defending the work he realized for the ESF enlargement to the CEEC in I and II ESF processes.

 

The discussion was as follows:

a) It was a consensus to say that neither our European Working Group nor any other ESF space or movement can take a position on the conflict in Hungary, "arbitrating" among different parts in the conflict; that it belongs to the Hungarian social movements, starting with those represented at this meeting, to make all necessary efforts to overcome their conflict, to try to work together in an inclusive way without excluding nobody (principle outlined moreover in their interventions by both Mathias Benyik and Endre Simo themselves), on the basis of the Porto Alegre Charter, to prepare in common the III ESF in London;

 

Endre Simo asked to write clearly in the present report that, answering to Matyas Benyik, he said that "The organisations I am representing have remained open to cooperate with

 

Attac and also the foundation, in the spirit of Porto Alegre's Charter and

 

the ESF process: in the spirit of inclusion and not of exclusion."

 

b) it was also a consensus to say that in the framework of our common activities, the Hungarian friends can, if they wish, present on the EWG and ESFEAST electronical lists some of the political and social issues they are discussing among them, but in a quiet, respectfull manner, without personal accusations, in order to make participate other CEEC movements and activists in a common debate and a common process of building social and democratic alternatives;

 

c) the idea has been put forward that the Hungarian alterglobalist movements could maybe prepare a 2d All-Hungarian Social Forum (the first was held in spring 2003) to discuss all the issues of their alterglobalist process and try a re-unification of their social movement; it has been said that in Greece, for instance, they are 2 or even 3 Social Forums in competition each against another, that is not a good exemple to follow in Hungary; but that the good exemple to follow would be more the British one, where despite of many differencies and sometimes very hard discussions and conflicts (we read on the net) the British social movement is working all together, as we have seen also here in Istanbul; or the Polish exemple of the Social Forum Coalition set-up in 2003 by two coordinations which were claiming before to be each "the best and the only one", etc.;

 

d) it has been said also that many ESF movements and activists have confidence in Endre Simo (for exemple the Romanian, French, German and Polish participants spoke in this sense); that nobody can tell this or that movement is the main or the only, 'official' representation of the country; that activists of the same social movement have to trust each other and act in total transparency to each other, working in a inclusive, common way; and discuss differencies openly, frankly and fraternally, trying always to reach a consensus, a condition to work together among so many and so different movements and traditions.

 

e) it was proposed also that, given this (we hope, temporary) conflictual situation, it is possible that not 3 but even 4 representatives of Hungarian social movements could participate in the European Working Group "Enlargement to the CEEC", if this can help our Hungarian friends to overcome the actual situation;

 

f) Peter Damo asked to put clearly in this report the following statement : "I should only add that my sincere hope and wish is that both Simo Endre and Matyas Benyik will work in the frame of the ESF Enlargement Working Group for the benefit of the ESF Movement and respecting the Porto Alegre Charter of Principles".

 

It is, I think, a hope shared by all the participants in our meeting and generally in the ESF process.

April 25, 2004

 (Report written by Stefan Bekier)

 

Appendix

Letter of April 7 to the Istanbul Social Forum, UK Organising Committee and ESFEAST List

 

Dear friends,

You will find attached the english translation (thank you, Babels network!) of the Contribution of the Working GroupᠢEnlargment to the East" to the balance-sheet of the 2nd ESF in Paris Saint-Denis (together with the french original sent already on March 3).

 

A) We wish that the elements of this balance-sheet and the different proposals raised in this Contribution be really present in the debates during the next European Preparation Assembly (EPA) on April 16, 17 and 18 in Istanbul, so as to be taken into account in the preparation of the 3rd  ESF in London

 

B) We ask the organisers of the Istanbul EPA to provide time and room for a meeting of the European Working Group "Enlargment to the East", if possible no at the same time that the already scheduled "Program" and "Organisation" Working Groups, in order to allow the representatives of the Central and Eastern European countries to participate also in those two working groups.

 

C) The ESF enlargment to the East is not a problem or a task of the responsibility of the sole networks from those countries. It's above all an european problem and goal as a whole. For that reason, we think it would be very usefull and necessary (and we talk about in our Contribution) if, in addition to the activists from those countries, could participate in this meeting of the European Workin Group "Enlargment to the East" also one or two friends from Great Britain (from the UK ESF 3 Organising Committee), Turkey, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain, and other who wish to participate (the meeting is open, of course).

 

D) We propose the following agenda for this meeting (for about 3 hours maximum, 20-30 minutes per each point) :

 

1. Exchanging opinions about elements of the balance-sheet of the 2nd ESF developped in the Contribution (attached) of the WG "Enlargment to the East", plus other possible balance-sheet elements.

 

2. First discussion on proposals for 'Program' thematics, related in particular to the Central and Eastern European countries, mainly for seminars (but also for plenaries).

 

3. Informations, country by country, about the situation of the unitary ESF preparation collectives (committees), about projects of raising such an unitary framework in the countries where it does not exist yet, and about the accession to the ESF process of new countries.

 

4. First discussion on the criteria for choosing speakers (for seminaries and plenaries).

 

5. The Solidarity Fund: a) principles and criteria for the allocation of financing aids ; b) situation and problems to solve (the presence of somebody from the UK Organising Committee would be necessary!).

 

6. The ESF III European Working Group "Enlargment to the Central and Eastern European Countries" : it's settlement, it's enlargment, and some basic operating principles.

 

All your proposals and comments, to our Contribution or to the above proposals for the Istanbul EPA, are welcomed.

 

In solidarity, Stefan Bekier

 (for the 2nd ESF Working Group "Enlargment to the East")