Dzianis Melyantsou, Senior Analyst at BISS, served as a panelist at the conference of representatives of think tanks and civil society organizations Eastern Partnership Reality Check, which was held in Vilnius on 27-29 November in conjunction with the Eastern Partnership Summit.
Following are the highlights of Dzianis Melyantsou’s report at the section Hybrid Regimes and New Challenges for Civil Society:
- Heterogeneity of political regimes in the EaP partner countries. Belarus’s political system as an example of a consolidated authoritarian regime with a relatively high level of repression against the opposition and NGOs. Nevertheless, the level of repression against the opponents of the regime has been decreasing during the last few years.
- Different approaches to the definition of the notion “civil society”; civil society as a totality of independent self-organizing associations and initiatives acting as a filter of demands and support of citizens for the political system (Easton).
- Substantiation of the problem of the detachment of “professionalized” NGOs and the political opposition from society as a whole, which is reflected in public opinion polls. Gaps between the “professionalized” third sector, informal civil initiatives and society.
- Need for the search for internal financing of NGOs as an instrument to build a genuine civil society based upon a broader engagement of citizens and implementation of their priorities.