TBILISI, DFWatch–Civil society activists who rallied in Riga during the EU summit caught the attention of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, who saw the rally from his car and walked over to them to express his support.
Members of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) involved told DF Watch about the incident, after having recently returned from the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit last week.
The provocative rally-performance on May 21 was organized by Ukrainian, Georgian and Moldovan civil society representatives, who carried posters and flags. Three independent petitions were written with a demand to join the EU in the name of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova. Signatures were collected and handed over to EU leaders.
“In the document, which was prepared by NGOs in the three separate states, we explain why our countries have to become members of EU. When we gave the petition to Commissioner Johannes Hahn, he promised that he would hang our posters in his office as as well. Finally, such a demarche of civil society turned out to be a surprise for EU leaders and caused quite an excitement in the hall,” Lasha Tughushi, head of Georgia’s National Eastern Partnership Platform, says.
Many representatives from other countries also joined the rally, which was conducted in front of the building where the summit was held and it attracted the attention of the leaders of EU member states. Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko came over to the rally participants to express support.
Tughushi says that they had to go through quite much trouble to conduct the rally. City Hall in Riga gave permission to conduct it in a certain area and only after the fourth application from the organizers.
“I want to thank all those people, who weren’t target of our demands but still supported us. Latvian people came with flags, Polish people stood with us, Armenians and Azerbaijani. We thank the president of Ukraine, who came immediately after noticing us from his car. I think such kind of rallies is an expression and impulse of our attitudes,” Tughushi adds.
Rallies were held in several European countries at the same time. Everywhere the demand was same: European perspective, visa-free movement and an end to the Russian aggression.
The NGO members also participated in several conferences during the summit and met with several heads of state and EU commissioners.