FSE/ESF Forum social européen/European Social Forum - Report of the Enlargement EPA Workgroup
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// Prep Process (EPA-AEP) // About Athens 2006 // AEP-APE Vienna (01/2006)

Report of the Enlargement EPA Workgroup [en]
28 January 2006


1. Enlargement of the European Social Forum in Greece

Enlargement in Greece has reached a promising level. Among the members of the 4th ESF Greek Organizing Committee there are major trade-unionist organizations of both the private and public sector (GSEE and ADEDY), a number of major trade unions, the most well-known and reliable NGOs, various ecological and environmental organizations, as well as women’s, feminist and LGBT organizations (in the Prague and Istanbul EPAs we actually distributed the list of the Greek organizations that take part in the 4th ESF). However, in the last few months, due to the problem of defining the date of the 4th ESF, the enlargement campaign did not reach a satisfactory stage both at a social and regional level.

2. Enlargement in Roumania

According to the decisions taken in the Preparatory Assembly in Prague, a delegation from the Greek Organizing Committee held a meeting with the Initiative for the Romanian Social Forum, which was attended by comrades from Austria, Germany and Bulgaria. At this meeting there were ecological and non-governmental organizations, the union of the ROMEIRO workers (aircraft manufacturer company which is threatened with closure), as well as trade-unionists from various parts of Romania. Peter Damo informed the Organizing Committee in Vienna that a couple of coaches are going to come to Athens, with members of the Romanian Social Forum and delegations from the unions of ROMEIRO and the Company of Petrol Chemistry.

3. Enlargement in Bulgaria

According to the decisions taken in Prague, the Greek Organizing Committee held a meeting with the Bulgarian social organizations at the end of October. Unfortunately, due to practical reasons, not all the organizations mentioned in the European Social Forum could participate in the meeting in Sofia and there was no Bulgarian delegation in Vienna EPA. However, the Greek Organizing Committee is trying to expand its contacts with the Bulgarian comrades and, in all probability, there will have to be a new meeting in Sofia.

4. Enlargement in Russia

After the formation of the Russian Social Forum, in April 2005, in which 1200 people participated, there is a major interest for the 4th ESF in Russia. Boris Kagarlitsky informed the Greek Organizing Committee that 3 coaches of 70 people (from Ukraine as well) will come to Athens on 4-7 May, and there will be another meeting in Moscow about the 4th ESF, which will be attended by Cristophe Aguiton, the Greek Organizing Committee and anyone else who is interested.

5. Enlargement in Turkey

In Turkey, the enlargement of the 4th ESF is extremely promising. Hundreds of trade-unionists and members of the social movements are expected in Athens.

6. Enlargement in Cyprus

At the moment, we know for sure that 30 Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots activists will participate in the 4th ESF, but we do not have any indication about the participation of great trade-unions from the two cypriot communities.

7. Enlargement in Palestine and Israel

Tens of people are expected from the West Bank as well as Gaza – representatives of movements, committees and NGOs. PLO will be represented by their leading members while various peace, anti-militarist and anti-occupational organizations and persons from Israel are going to participate in the 4th ESF.

8. Enlargement in Lebanon

At the moment, the participation of certain Lebanese NGOs in the 4th ESF has been ensured, but we believe that it is realistic to attract mass organizations with a broad political and cultural scope from Lebanon to the 4th ESF.

9. Enlargement in the countries of ex-Yugoslavia and Albania

In spite of the fact that in the European Preparatory Assembly in Prague we decided to carry out certain meetings for the enlargement of the 4th ESF in these countries, few things have been accomplished so far. We make an appeal to the organizations active in these countries and to our comrades from the Western and Eastern Europe that have relevant contacts, to contact the Greek Organizing Committee. Our aim is to hold meetings for the enlargement at the middle of February at the latest, in ex-Yugoslavia and Albania.

10. The proposal of the Austrian Social Forum and the issue of the participation of the movements from Eastern Europe in the 4th ESF

At the enlargement meeting held in Vienna, Leo Gabriel proposed a number of meetings for the enlargement of 4th ESF in Croatia-Slovenia, Poland-Hungary-Czech Republic-Slovakia and Ukraine-Russia-Belarus. This proposal was accepted in conjunction with Simo Endre’s proposal from Hungary for the need of having regional forum meetings in Eastern Europe. Matyas Beniyk’s proposal from Hungary for the creation of an Eastern-European Social Forum was not met with consensus, although everybody agreed that within the European Social Forum equality between activists from Eastern Europe and activists from Western Europe has not been achieved. At the enlargement meeting which also dealt with the improvement of participation of the Eastern Europeans in the 4th ESF, various proposals were accepted concerning seminars which will highlight the problems of Eastern Europe and will reinforce the networking process of the movements in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the creation of a special thematic space within the ESF that will show the problems of societies and the action of the movements in Eastern Europe and in the Balkans.

11. Communication with the opposition and resistace forces in Iraq

The participation of representatives from organizations and resistance movements in the 4th ESF is of vital importance. There have already been certain contacts and we believe that in Athens we shall have reprentative organizations and persons from Iraq.

12. The Solidarity Fund and the financial support of participants from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and Arabs who would like to participate in the 4th ESF

In the ESF budget, the Greek Organizing Committee has made provisions for the amount of 70,000 euros to this end. Up to now, only the Russian Social Forum has defined the expenses and the sum that will be needed from the Solidarity Fund. We make an appeal to all the organizations and forums in need of financial support to submit their proposals as soon as possible. In the enlargement meeting in Vienna, Mirek Prokes from Czech Republic submitted a proposal taking into account financial – as well as ecological – reasons that for distances less than 1,000 km from Athens, activists supported by the Solidarity Fund should exclusively travel by bus or by train. However, in order to ensure mass participation of activists from the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Middle East and in order for the Greek Organizing Committee to make ends meet, it would useful financially and beneficial for the trade union movement if the great Western European trade unions covered financially the travel costs of a certain number of trade unionists and activists from a Balkan or Eastern European country.

13. Problems regarding the granting of visa

Since certain Greek embassies, such as the Turkish embassy, grant a limited number of visas every day or they require special individual invitations, while other countries ask for a great amount of money at the borders as a “return guarantee”, we make an appeal to all the organizations in need of a visa to send as soon as possible to the Greek Organizing Committee all the necessary data and the necessary amount of money and, if it is possible, the lists of all those in need of a visa, so that we can make all the necessary arrangements.

The Enlargement Group of the Greek Organizing Committee for the 4th ESF

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