This report has been commissioned by FOND with the aim to assess the state of the enabling environment (EE) for civil society development (CapDev) in eight countries of the Black Sea region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. In doing so, the report gathers and synthesizes proposals for strategic priorities of CSOs in the Black Sea countries via 3-month research including desktop research, on-line survey, focus groups and selected interviews, and identiﬁes the role of the Black Sea NGO Forum in addressing these needs and challenges. The analytical framework put forward by the team of the Balkan Civil Society Development Network (BCSDN) who conducted the research and prepared this report was based on combination of its experience in monitoring the EE for CapDev in EU Enlargement countries with the Monitoring Matrix Tool-kit and the Civil Society Partnership for Development Eﬀectiveness (CPDE) Framework for Assessing Enabling Environment Progress resulting in analysis of 10 core dimensions of EE for CapDev.
While considerable diﬀerences in the state of the enabling environment exist in the eight countries, some key common concerns can be discerned and thus, present a basis for possible joint action. Adoption or harmonization of the legislation on freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression in line with international standards and their full respect in practice is crucial for unlocking the needed reforms in the area of ﬁscal frameworks and state support. These reforms will insure diversiﬁcation of funding sources, and with this support independent and autonomous civil society in the Black Sea region. Institutional mechanisms both on the public sector and civil society side need to be established to implement the needed reforms. More speciﬁcally, limitations on CSO registration and operation should be lifted and acts of state interference should be continuously monitored and reported by CSOs. Programs and activities for capacity building of oﬃcials who work in institutions relevant for CSOs operation and CSO-public institutions relationship should be implemented. On regional level, programs and educational activities for peer- to-peer exchange and learning inclusive of state oﬃcials, CSOs and foreign donors and other stakeholders should be facilitated. Better structuring of donor- CSOs relationship into a continued and inclusive stream and exchange of ideas based on partnership is crucial for foreign donors to allow CSOs grow and lead the agenda for change in their countries.