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Brussels, 18 May 1998
EU and US give Democracy and Civil Society Awards
The European Union (EU) and the United States (US) of America announced the winners of the Democracy and Civil Society Awards during the EU-US Summit in London. Fifty awards worth USD 20,000 each were presented for outstanding contributions to democracy and civil society and for furthering the work of the winners in Central and Eastern Europe (including Ex-Yugoslavia), the New Independent States and Mongolia. US President Bill Clinton, Council of Ministers President Tony Blair and European Commission President Jacques Santer handed certificates to a selected group of the winners, while similar ceremonies were taking place across the continent. "I am especially pleased that a substantial proportion of the winners of the EU-US Democracy and Civil Society Awards have been associated with the EU's Democracy Programme in the past" commented President Santer, "It proves the value of these programmes and underlines the EU's commitment to developing stable democracies across Europe". The EU's Democracy Programme was launched in 1992 and has an annual budget of ECU 20-25 million. Most of its grants go to non-governmental organisations that have built partnerships with EU counterparts. A selection of the winning projects can be accessed on the Commission's website under "The EU's Human Rights Policy" (http://ec.europa.eu/dg1a/index.htm).
The EU-US Democracy and Civil Society Award was established last year in order to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Marshall Plan, the 40th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome as well as the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It testifies to both partners' commitment to promote more democratic and free societies and to work jointly in a variety of fields to strengthen the 'people to people' programme.
The representatives of the EU and US have come together over the last few months in the respective countries to identify those they wished to nominate for awards in recognition. Over one hundred nominations were made. Each of the nominees has made a visible contribution to a better society, in some cases through individual effort, in others through the work of a group or association. Nominees received a certificate in recognition of the esteem in which they are held by the leaders of the EU and the USA. The fifty winners each received an award of USD 20,000.
A substantial proportion of the winners of the EU-US Civil Society Awards have been associated with the EU's Phare and Tacis Democracy Programme. This is real evidence that the right organisations have been supported, and that they have been able to use the funds made available to make effective and recognised contributions to democracy. Among the winners of the EU-US Democracy and Civil Society Award were for instance the following four projects:
· Ombudsmen of the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina
· The Moscow Research Center for Human Rights
· The Yerevan Press Club
· The Latvian Center for Human Rights and Ethnic Studies
As part of its world-wide support for human rights and democratisation, the EU launched the Phare and Tacis Democracy Programmes in 1992 to help promote democratic societies in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe including former Yugoslavia, the New Independent States, and Mongolia. With a budget of some ECU 20-25 million per year it has worked, largely through non-governmental organisations. It has sought to enrich the plurality of societies in transition so that for their citizens and for the world as a whole the threat of tyranny may be abated and the freedom of all people to exercise their civic and human rights may be promoted.
The list of winning organisations is attached.
List of Winning Organisations
Central & Eastern Europe
Newly Independent States