Frontiers of Democracy – Embedding Democratic Values in Moldova and Ukraine

Duration: September, 2015 to February, 2017
Funding: International Visegrad Fund

Moldova and Ukraine, countries of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program, are undergoing complex processes of democratic transformation, but with weak embeddedness of democratic values and principles drawbacks can occur. It is embeddedness that helps to overcome the challenges of transformation and pushes countries beyond mere frontiers of democracy towards becoming strongly committed democratic communities. The goal of this project is to facilitate embedding democratic values in the societal ethos, and thus to contribute to future successful consolidation in Moldova and Ukraine.

Similarly complex transformation processes were ongoing in the Visegrad countries during their EU accession processes. In many cases, we still cannot consider them completed. The pre-accession conditionality of the EU was indeed successful in initiating reforms in these countries, however, after the accession amidst the virtual lack of any post-accession conditionality, drawbacks have occured in all four states. While association conditionality seems to have a similar initial impact, standing without the ultimate ‘carrot’ of the membership perspective, it often falls short of prompting substantive reform in partner countries of the EU. Furthermore, both accession and association conditionality emphasizes legal and institutional reforms, but does not offer effective tools to support the deeper and longer process of changes in the values and principles embraced by the society.

Through a series of workshops and conferences in Budapest, Chisinau and Kyiv, and with the involvement of opinion leaders and civil society activist in the V4 countries, Moldova and Ukraine, we aim to spark a critical debate about the issues surrounding democratic values, practices and processes that characterize a healthy democracy. These events create a platform to discuss, evaluate and recommend ways to improve the democratic quality of the polities and societies represented by the participants. Identifying achievements and exploring shortcomings as well as challenges of democratic transformation is a mutually beneficial eneavor, contributing to democratic consolidation not only in Moldova and Ukraine, but also in the Visegrad countries. Reflecting upon these questions is a bi-directional learning process that acknowledges commonalities and respects diversity. Throughout the discussions, we focus on the importance and potential ways of the formation of an ethical political elite and an active, participatory civil society. Critical issues, such as fundamental rights, civic education, freedom of the press, tolerance and accomodation of diversity, separation of powers and corruption are discussed.

Speakers of the workshops also contribute to the project by sharing their thoughts in the form of working papers, which are published on a rolling basis on a dedicated page. Find the Frontiers of Democracy Working Papers here.

More about the project and its outputs: