30. Mai 2005

Baltic Sea NGO Forum 2005 in Gdynia / Poland - THE FINAL DECLARATION

The Baltic Sea NGO Network gathered to the V Baltic Sea NGO-Forum in Gdynia in Poland 12-13.5.2005 and brought together 190 civil society representatives from all the Baltic Sea countries.

The Forum is convinced that civil society is based on active public participation. We believe it strengthens citizens capacity to take part actively in democratic processes. Civil society facilitates public discussions and is a meeting place for people to define and formulate common interests in relation to the state, local authorities and the market forces. Civil society will have an increasing role to play in the region by enhancing peoples will to take part in their respective communities.

The Baltic Sea NGO network was established in Copenhagen 2001 and have since that developed cooperation for strengthening civil society in our common region. Forums in Lubeck, S:t Petersburg, Turku and Parnu have developed and stabilized the process and created networks in several fields. During the V Forum in Gdynia items like Baltic Sea state citizens – Third Sector contribution to Baltic Sea cooperation programs, EU financial policy and civil society development and Third Sector as a Bridge over Borders have been dealt with.
National platforms, thematic cooperation networks and other structures, like NGO-and information centers, of Baltic Sea region have been exchanging experiences in regional cross-border and cross-sector cooperation.

The Forum has with satisfaction noticed the report " The NGO Legislation in the countries in the Baltic Sea Region" by MP Mrs. Outi Ojala for the Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference dealing with the situation of NGOs in different Baltic Sea countries.

Forum received reports and suggestions from four workshops:
Ecology and environmental protection,
Culture and education,
Human Rights and socially excluded groups,
Local and regional development.

The V NGO Forum agreed upon:

- the necessity of continuing the work of the Network based on the four previous Forum recommendations, with a view to further create closer contacts with the governments and increase information exchange.
- supporting the main suggestions expressed in the report " The NGO Legislation in the countries in the Baltic Sea Region", especially the need to create, in mutual cooperation, suitable infrastructure for NGOs and guarantee financial assistance and support systems for civil society development as a means of enhancing democracy
- readiness to cooperate with Council of Baltic Sea States and its working bodies, Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference, Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordic Council and other public institutions in Europe and the Baltic Sea Region,
- to continue the efforts in gaining Special Participants Status in CBSS- Council of the Baltic Sea States,
- the importance of finalizing the work to increase cooperation with EU through INTERREG and other programs.

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