Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress creates a meeting place for hundreds of practisians of development and cross-border cooperation. It constitutes a dialogue platform for academia, cultural circles, central and local authorities, creators and decision-makers from this part of Europe. This kind of platform aims to foster implementation of partner projects from available external funding sources.
The Congress is organized within the activities of the Centre for Eastern Competences which is a programme implemented by the City of Lublin. CEC aims at networking and initiating new undertakings, as well as co-creating new quality in a broadly defined development cooperation.
Last year's 7th edition of Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress was dedicated to building lasting relationships of regional cooperation between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in the context of the 100-year tradition of independence, grassroots and liberation.
During the opening ceremony of the Congress, the solemn inaugural lecture "European perspective or sectoral cooperation for the associated partner countries of the Eastern Partnership? What is the future of the project for the Eastern Partnership?" was delivered by Bartosz Cichocki - undersecretary of state in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassadors and representatives of important international institutions from 7 countries participated in the opening panel "Dreams about freedom - in the 100th anniversary of independence".
The content provided in the opening panel, on the one hand, stressed the hundredth anniversary of Polish independence, and on the other, emphasized its international context among invited guests from Europe and the Eastern Partnership. The panel allowed us to look at the efforts of sovereignty from the perspective of 100 years, also through the eyes of representatives of various nations. It helped the participants of the panel to understand that each independence was obtained to some extent at the cost of the neighbors' aspirations.
The Congress program included 49 discussion panels in 7 thematic lines.
During the Congress, there also took place the Donors' Fair, Partner Forum, which was partaken by 38 institutions and a dozen or so accompanying events: exhibition opening, literary meetings, film screening, concert, bike ride and a warmly welcomed by the participants discussion about the Donbass war.
During the event, a cooperation declaration was signed between the science and technology park in Dnipro (Ukraine) and in Minsk (Belarus).
The Congress was attended by about 800 people, half of whom were foreign guests.
In 2017 6th Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress was opened with a significant event - the Council of Europe granted the city of Lublin the Europe Prize award. The city has been appreciated for its active promotion of European values and ideas through, inter alia, organization of interesting cultural and civil events of European coverage. Moreover, the 6th Congress has been one of the elements of the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of granting Lublin its city rights. The 6th edition of the Congress was devoted to the development prospects of the Central and Eastern Europe, as well as development challenges faced by cities and towns, taking into account the needs of their citizens. Invited guests discussed future local initiatives for Lublin and neighbouring countries. Due to numerous dangers contemporary Europe is currently exposed to, an important role in the agenda was played by the "Policy and Security" thematic area. Much attention was also paid to innovation which not only allows to implement particular tasks in a less expensive, but more rapid and effective way, but also they also significantly improve the quality of our everyday lives. This year's Congress addressed also important issues of science and education, mobility and local democracy which is of crucial importance for currently reforming Ukraine. A seminar by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) was held during the Congress in partnership with Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Inaugural lecture was delivered by Refat Chubarov - Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People. During the Congress, other keynote speeches were made by, among others, Jerzy Buzek, Bogdan Klich, Waldemar Sługocki and Jan Piekło.
The Congress was also accompanied by International Donors' Fair and over a dozen side events, including "Three Sisters" play by Anton Chekhov (performed by Ukrainian artists within the celebrations of the 700th anniversary of granting Lublin its rights), the Legend of the Devil's Paw and the Devilish Court, author's meeting with Oleksandr Boychenko, and Congress Club.
The 2016 fifth edition of the Congress gathered more than 1000 participants from such countries as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Czech Republic, France, Georgia, Israel, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, USA and the United Kingdom. Panel discussions took place in Lublin Conference Centre, while side events were scattered around the city, including Musical Theatre in Lublin, Lublin art galleries, Hieronim Łopaciński Public Library of Lubelskie Voivodeship in Lublin, and more. 5th Congress distinguished itself with a generous thematic offer covering 12 programme areas, 44 panel discussions, 233 speakers, a number of study visits and cultural side events such as movie screenings, shows, workshops, and meetings with authors. Moreover, an International Fair for Partners and Donors was organized where information on financing international and cross-border projects was provided, as well as new partnerships for future joint undertakings were established.
An inaugural lecture was given by former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko. Subsequently, the floor was taken by, among others, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland, Andriy Deshchytsia, European Commission representative, Ewa Synowiec, and Zbigniew Bujak, Maciej Fałkowski and Krzysztof Stanowski. During the Congress, the Mayor of the City of Lublin, Krzysztof Żuk, and the Mayor of the City of Lutsk, Mykola Romanyuk, renewed the cooperation agreement due to the 20th anniversary of partnership, and signed declaration of continuation of cross-border collaboration.
Furthermore, the Congress celebrated the 25th anniversary of the independence of Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership states. There was a chance to pay tribute to those countries in different languages. A publication containing lyrics of national anthems of the post-Soviet region was released too. Finally, a photographic exhibition entitled “25 years of independence of Ukraine – Ukraine which we don’t know” was also presented.
4th edition of the Congress, which was held in October 2015, was organized as a promotion of the 25th anniversary of Polish self-governance. During the debates, the participants shared their positive experiences in the field of systemic transformation and presented best practices of using European funds dedicated to regional development. The discussions continued on multidimensional security issues in Eastern Europe, students’ mobility, innovation in tourist offers of cities and their cultural heritage. Invited guests attempted to analyse the impact which culture has on social transformations. They also addressed issues regarding settling post-communist past, and using renewable energy sources and managing waste disposal and collection in a sustainable way.
Held on 2-4 October 2014, the 3rd Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress focused on the main problems and challenges in Central and Eastern Europe. The decade of Polish membership of the European Union was summarized in cooperation with Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In 2013, thanks to the 2nd Congress, Lublin became a place where cultural environment, academia, central and local authorities, creators and decision-makers engaged into dialogue between each other. EEIC 2013 agenda covered 9 programme areas, introducing new ones such as Tourism, Social Innovation, Corporate Social Responsibility, Heritage, and Contexts. A special cultural programme – Culture for the Eastern Partnership – was also implemented. Congress debates were accompanied with artistic shows and presentations of best cultural practices demonstrating the diversity of contemporary cultures of Eastern Partnership states within the Festival Integrations-Mediations.
The Eastern Europe Initiatives Congress was organized for the first time in 2012. It provided an extended approach to the idea of Eastern Partnership Culture Congress which was held a year before. It was a time when artists, cultural managers and animators, representatives of ministries, local governments, NGOs, academia and the media for EaP states, the EU, as well as Russia and other European countries produced recommendations regarding cultural cooperation between the EaP and the EU. Establishing a Cultural Cooperation Network for the Eastern Partnership was a prominent task for the Congress then.