Prof. Dr. Melanie Sully

Governance and Participation ed Dr Melanie Sully

With chapters on Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Bulgaria etc

 GOVERNANCE AND PARTICIPATION   Editor Professor Dr Melanie Sully

Download Book "Governance and Participation" here.


Preface Ambassador Martin EICHTINGER Director General for Cultural Policy Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs Oskar WAWRA, Director, International Relations Department, City of Vienna

Introduction Melanie SULLY Executive Director, Institute for Go-Governance, Vienna Professor, Political Science, formerly Diplomatic Academy, Vienna

Civil Society, Participation 1989-2014 Jakub FORST-BATTAGLIA Director, Austrian Cultural Forum, Kiev Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs

Governance in the Black Sea Basin and Cross Border Cooperation Agnès CICCARONE Director of the Academic and Training Center, Assembly of European Regions

EUBAM – Euroregion “Dniester”: cooperation for development Jean VAN ACKER Strategy, Planning and Performance Adviser, EUBAM Volodymyr MEREZHKO Director of Coordination Center of Euroregion “Dniester” Dmytro DIDYK, Deputy Director of Coordination Center of Euroregion “Dniester”

Participatory Democracy (#Ukraine, #Moldova, #Romania) Sergiy GERASYMCHUK Strategic and Security Studies Group, Kyiv, Ukraine Ukraine-Romania International Experts’ Consortium

Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU Sergii GLEBOV Associate Professor, Department of International Relations Odesa Mechnikov National University, Ukraine

Federal Centre, Governors and Municipality (Russia) Maria PONOMAREVA Southern Federal University, Russia


Model of Securitization Triangle: the Ukrainian Crisis and Russia Victor APRYSHCHENKO Director of the Institute of History and International Relations, Southern Federal University, Rostov, Russia

Patterns of Participation in Georgia Levan KAKHISHVILI MSc Russian and East European Studies St Anthony’s College, University of Oxford

Development of E-Government in Azerbaijan Kamal MAKILI-ALIYEV Leading Research Fellow, Baku, Azerbaijan

Why Participation Matters: Armenia Gevorg MELIKYAN Independent Political Analyst, Yerevan, Armenia

Turkey’s Challenges Hikmet KIRIK Assoc Prof Political Science, Istanbul University

The 2012-14 Protest Movements in Bulgaria Stefan RALCHEV Programme Director and Policy Analyst, Institute for Regional and International Studies (IRIS) Sofia, Bulgaria

Environments: the art of the possible Alexandra DANCASIU Executive Board, Institute for Go-Governance, Vienna


Melanie SULLY

Executive Director, Go-Governance Institute
Professor, Political Science, formerly Diplomatic Academy, Vienna

This book[1] continues the series looking at good governance in the Black Sea Region and builds on the last conference held in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova based on the theme of sustainability. For a democracy to have any hope of sustainability it requires legitimacy through political participation[2].

This year our series took the theme of participation in the light of declining political engagement which has become a feature of many democracies. For civic participation to work, citizens need access to information and also to decision-makers, something which is not always evident even in EU member states. Much has been made of the supposed lack of interest in the political process especially by young people but examples arise which demonstrate the opposite. The referendum on Scottish independence was an outstanding case where social networks, civic groups and others campaigned hard and long even throughout the Summer with evening meetings and packed halls. The debate left few untouched and the turnout was a staggering 85% showing that when a topic is of real interest people do and will engage.[3] Social media, digital democracy can all play their part in reaching out to those with a thirst for politics looking at the subject matter in a different way from the past. It is the task of politicians to respond to this challenge as many do via facebook, twitter but this does not act as a substitute for the door to door and personal contact and campaign meetings. Citizens can be involved in the political process through consultations via parliaments, active engagement even in parliamentary committees and hearings at regional, local and national levels. Increasingly direct democracy is sharpening the focus for groups with a political agenda disseminating information on topical issues.

The Black Sea region is faced with a number of challenges on governance and participation with cases of mounting frustration where street protests seem the only alternative, with weak parliamentary democracies and too often violent rather than peaceful engagement. The last year has witnessed some monumental changes in the region opening up hopes of building a better future clouded by blockages, economic hardship and lack of trust. The authors here had a free hand to interpret the topic of participation as they wished. Where possible we have tried to include different sides and perspectives from many countries and of course the views expressed are those of the individual authors.

Jakub Forst-Battaglia sets the scene by looking at cases of participation in central and eastern Europe giving a background for comparative analysis. His contribution is especially vibrant representing an eye-witness account of historical moments of participation which have shaped the course of European history. The author relates a never-ending story of participation right up to the present and Ukraine where he currently serves as an Austrian diplomat. 

Agnes Ciccarone although working for the Assembly of European Regions expresses her own views here as an expert with a wealth of experience in projects where participation and cross border cooperation feature high on the list. Active programmes to enhance participation in the Region are described but also there are some critical remarks on management and a plea for improvements.

Jean Van Acker for EUBAM together with Volodymyr Merezhko and Dmytro Didyk of the Euroregion “Dniester” look at a regional project in Ukraine with Moldova and how governance has played a role encouraged by the work of the EU Border Assistance Mission to the two countries. This particular cooperation project involved the participation of citizens in the region as key partners not only in voicing dissatisfaction but also in providing new ideas for improvements.

Sergiy Gerasymchuk leads projects concerned with the relationships between Romania, Moldova and Ukraine and here examines the increasingly important role of social media in civic participation. Organised protest and participation have greatly benefited from such means of communication and he points to, in this context at least, the weaknesses of representative democracy. Not surprisingly the events surrounding the Euromaydan play a central role in his analysis where Apps and smart phones featured prominently.

Sergii Gelbov having experienced the mood in Odessa looks at the issue which originally sparked off the protests viz. the association agreement as well as providing an insight into the strategy of the Kremlin.

Maria Ponomareva recounts from just across the border in Rostov, Russia to where the former President of Ukraine sought initial refuge, the peculiarities of politics in her country with reference to the regions and relation to the centre. In this part of Russia not so far from the shores of the Black Sea, the governors as she puts it are part of a “vertical power system of governance” but there are complexities which she also notes.

Her colleague, Victor Apryshchenko looks at the Crimean issue, Russian security in a theoretical framework of security studies. He applies it to contemporary Russia, Ukraine and the “annexation of Crimea” at the same time analysing the complicated historical past of the region.

Levan Kakhishvili looks at patterns of participation in Georgia and explains the low level of participation in the context of the Soviet legacy and lack of trust in democratic institutions. He continues to review different types of political activity from signing petitions, going to political meetings and using the internet as a tool for information and engagement.

Kamal Makili-Aliyev from Baku tackles the question of participation by looking at the progress his country has made in E-government, a tool for modern participation and dialogue between governments and the citizens. Azerbaijan is a member of the Open Government Partnership initiative and understands that effective participation needs an informed public. Here again modern technology is fulfilling an important role in the participation process. Still there are challenges that a country like Azerbaijan has to face such as the comprehensiveness criteria of data.

Gevorg Melikyan also sees his country, Armenia, as still suffering from the Soviet past when it comes to participation but it is a vital tool for democratic governance. Importantly he refers to the rather different views of democracy in the “east” and the “west”. Very often the values of the west including democracy are deliberately discredited and presented as a caricature. Yet the writer describes concrete examples of where people have become engaged and concludes that participation is not just a smart piece of decoration but essential for the future of Armenia. 

Hikmet Kirik a political science professor in Istanbul traces the ups and downs of participation in Turkey, the challenges for political parties and the elites. He links this with the problems in drafting a new constitution for the country and the difficulties in establishing effective parliamentary controls and institutions such as the Ombudsman. Despite this progress has been made on some fronts so it would be wrong to think the country is standing still.

Stefan Ralchev writing in Bulgaria presents quite an optimistic picture of the development of participation and political engagement. Here civic society awoke and there were even results with resignations and a rethink by elites on how they should act. Here it seems the people were able by their participation to send a strong signal that old bad habits would no longer be tolerated thus reshaping the elite mindset. This shows that indeed change can be brought about and that there need be no grounds for resignation. Change for the better can occur and political participation can be that catalyst.

Alexandra Dancasiu looks at “environments”, social, natural and political, all of which are important for the future of the Black Sea Region, and discovers some unexpected participants. She argues that multi-level governance has the chance to fill a gap left by shortcomings of some traditional political actors.



[1] Contributions to this book were mostly written, researched and completed in the last quarter of 2014.

[2] „Participation and Governance and the Millennium Development Goals”, UN, 2008.

[3] See, Melanie Sully, “der direkte Weg zur Demokratie”, in Österreichisches Jahrbuch für Politik, eds  A.Khol et al, Vienna, 2014, pp 313-27.



To what extent does the EU Black Sea Basin CBC programme contribute to strengthen Regions as key governance partners in the area?



 Director of the Academic and Training Center, in charge of institutional affairs, Assembly of European Regions (AER:

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AER.


The Assembly of European Regions (AER) is a private non-profit organisation active since 1985. AER is politically independent and, with members from 35 countries of the wider Europe, it is the biggest interregional network in Europe. It was also the first interregional organisation to include member Regions from the former Eastern Block and has accompanied many Regions on their way to the European Union. Since 2010, AER has been deepening its activities in the Black Sea area, conscious of the shortcomings of the Black Sea Euroregion[1] and of the need to promote dialogue at regional level, to complete the existing intergovernmental fora – such as PABSEC[2] - and thereby contribute to more peace and stability in the region. As entities acting very close to citizens, regional authorities can indeed play a major role in fostering civil society participation among Black Sea countries and mutual understanding, by acting for instance as drivers of cooperation projects. The activities run by AER therefore consist of Summits and partnership fairs, gathering each year relevant stakeholders from all Black Sea countries, in particular regional authorities, to enhance networking and help them take up opportunities offered by EU funds to enhance cooperation. AER also actively supports the work of the Go-Governance Institute to promote the dialogue among Black Sea countries.

The present paper aims at giving a critical look at the main programme set up by the European Union to support cross-border cooperation in the Black Sea, i.e., the Black Sea CBC programme[3], by assessing its impact in strengthening regions as key partners in the area. It will conclude by reflecting on how this programme could/should be completed to better promote sound and vibrant multilevel governance in the Black Sea, in which Regions can fully play their role. The specific part which AER endorses in this context will be highlighted.


Background: why a programme for Black Sea Countries?

The Black Sea CBC programme is one of 15 cross-border cooperation programmes of the EU, and seeks, as each CBC programme, to reinforce cooperation between EU Member States and Partner countries along the external EU borders[4]. The Black Sea CBC programme contributes to the overall ENI objective of progress towards 'an area of shared prosperity and good neighbourliness' between EU Member States and their neighbours. In 2007-2013, the programme had €17,306 million at its disposal, and focussed on three main strands. Two calls for projects took place, and the programme acquired additional funding during the period (11 million EUR). The new programme, which is being finalised at the time of writing, will focus on two specific strategic objectives, and four sub-priorities[5]. The financial envelope foresees an increase of the available budget by 40%, with an EU contribution (ENI-+IPA) of  49 million EUR as for the EU contribution (plus national co-financing (10%)). 


Has the Programme helped in strengthening Regions as Governance Actors in the Black Sea Area?


A rapid analysis of the partners involved in the current financed projects would show that the rate of participation of regional authorities, as full partners in the projects, is relatively low. Indeed, according to the fact sheets available for each selected project, only four regions took part in the first call, and two in the second call[6]. The participation of municipalities is a little bit better, with three  participating municipalities in the first call and 22 in the second call (with a majority from Turkey and Greece).

Turkish regional authorities – or special provinces as they were called – also had to face extra challenges due to the fact that they were depending on IPA funds, and not ENPI funds as the rest of the eligible partners from other countries. This extra piece of red tape can be considered as an obstacle in their stronger involvement in the programme.[7] Beyond that, the structure of the programme could explain that, rather than regional authorities, economic chambers, NGOs and research institutes grasped the opportunities offered by the programme. Indeed, the objectives of the programme were quite specific and required a certain expertise in the fields concerned, especially concerning its priorities 1 and 2[8].  Also priority 3[9], and the concept of people-to-people action could seem more attractive to civil society actors than to institutional ones.

More generally, one could assume that the complexity of the programme in its  procedures and requirements could have seemed quite off putting to regional authorities that sometimes have limited resources when it comes to interregional cooperation, whilst NGOs are more flexible structures and keen on peer-to-peer exchanges.

One relevant element mentioned during conversations with stakeholders further highlighted the cautious attitude of NGOs and civil society representatives towards regional authorities. Many commented that they did not want to involve regional authorities in their projects, or get involved with them, because of corruption concerns. They preferred to apply directly for funds themselves and were doubtful that funds received by regional authorities would be properly used.

Further considerations on the programme and the Recommendations made by AER in that context, following its first two Black Sea Summits (Paris, January 2010, Batumi, April 2011), can be found under:


What are the Perspectives under the New Programme?

The new ENI CBC programme is not definitely finalised yet, but the strategy behind it has already been adopted.

Regarding governance issues, one can applaud the way the new programme was prepared. A large and extended (in time) consultation process took place among the interested stakeholders and regional authorities were given the opportunity to give their opinion, as all other stakeholders. AER acted as a catalyst in this context, urging Regions to take up positions and make proposals on the programme.

Many features of the new programme provide positive answers to the requests formulated by Regions via the AER Batumi Statement (April 2011, see link mentioned above), and can be considered as satisfactory for Regions willing to get involved in cooperation projects in the Black Sea Basin.

First of all, one can consider encouraging that capacity building for regional authorities is now considered as a horizontal issue for the future programme. As pointed out by some partners involved in the region, there is no point in providing people with money if they do not know what to do with it. Capacity building is a crucial issue, and AER is strongly involved to help enhance capacities of regional authorities (see below).

Formal requirements regarding the application process will be simplified, which would result in less red tape which will also be positive for Regions’ participation in the programme.

Clearly, Turkish regions – special provinces or newly established Metropoles – will benefit from the fusion of funds and the fact that they now can apply to lead projects. The possibility to include major urban centres and adjoining regions can also be seen as a positive sign to promote the participation of regions in the future programme, even if this measure might have minimum impact, due to a limited budget. Still, the fact that the new programme will focus on even more specific issues than the previous one[10], leaving aside big societal issues linked to youth, health, or education, seems relatively disappointing. Whilst we understand the wish of the EU and partner countries to narrow down the cooperation field, to earmark funds on specific issues rather than spreading them too much, it seems that the new programme might be even less relevant to regional authorities. Surely the new objectives of the programme are relevant as such for regions, for their overall economic and sustainable development. However, the way the priorities are formulated rather target specific actors such as universities, chambers of commerce and industry, research institutes, NGOs. Unless regional authorities find relevant partners to run a project, it is unlikely that many of them can take part as full partners in projects.

Conscious of this challenge, the Assembly of European Regions has therefore decided to continue its involvement in the Black Sea area, to help Regions in finding the right partners for their projects and strengthening their positions in the overall Black Sea governance.


The AER Contribution: helping Regions to enhance their place as key governance actors

Not only has AER influenced the content of the Black Sea CBC programme, by taking an active part in the consultation process, but it has also worked on raising the awareness of Black Sea Regions on alternative ways to cooperate, by informing them about other sources of funding in particular (other EU programmes or private funding). Specific training sessions on financial opportunities available to Regions to cooperate with each other were organised in Rize, Turkey, in October 2013, and more recently in Bucharest, in October 2014[11]. By providing such capacity-building services, AER is helping Regions to find their way and act as partners in interregional cooperation projects around the Black Sea. This, in turn, should help reinforce the place and status of Regions in their own countries, which is crucial.

Indeed, whilst the European Neighbourhood policy surely provides regional authorities with a sound basis to cooperate, it is up to national authorities to approve the programmes set up in the context of this policy. With regard to the Black Sea CBC programme, the content whilst submitted to all relevant stakeholders for consultation, is ultimately decided by the Joint Monitoring Committee, where representatives from the national level of all involved countries sit together. It is therefore vital to help Regions to strengthen their position in their country, so that they can effectively lobby their governments and influence the content of the programme. Helping Regions to affirming their place in their own country also contributes to embedding them as key governance actors, able to cooperate with other partners beyond the frame offered by programmes such as the Black Sea CBC programme. 

AER therefore accompanies its networking, information and training activities targeted at Black Sea countries with specific actions aiming at strengthening Regions as political actors in these countries.

Ukraine is particularly challenging at this time. Whilst two Ukrainian Oblasts (Odessa and Zaporizka) were at least involved as information points in the former Black Sea CBC programme, the current situation in the country puts this participation at risk. AER is therefore actively involved in accompanying  Ukrainian partners in their efforts to redesign the territorial structure of the country, and provide expertise, based on its knowledge of the European situation, on how to decentralise the country. It has taken part in Post-Monitoring Units of the Council of Europe in December 2014, and ran a three-day mission in three regions to exchange with partners.

AER was also in Georgia, which is carrying out a reform of its territorial structure, to meet with national authorities and insisted on the need for the Georgian authorities to benefit from more financial leeway.

Turkey has also gone through a reform with the replacement of many of its Special Province Administrations by Metropoles, and Turkish partners are traditionally quite active in the Black Sea area. This reform and the fact that the new Black Sea CBC programme allows them to apply as lead beneficiaries should be favourable in that context. AER is closely working with its Turkish members to improve their position as main governance actors in the Black Sea.

However, there are still challenging countries. Bulgaria is one of them. There the districts have no financial autonomy; their participation in interregional cooperation projects could be increased if they had more competences. Moldova is in a similar position. As far as Romania is concerned, it remains to be seen if the territorial reform in Romania, which failed in 2014 might reappear on the agenda. In any case, the fact that the Joint Technical Secretariat of the new Black Sea BC programme will be located in Romania (in the South-East development region) is surely an asset in encouraging Romanian regions to take part in the programme, more than was the case in the previous programme.

As far as Russian regions are concerned, they could not take part in the former Black Sea CBC programme, as the Russian Federation did not sign the financial agreement for the programme. In its Bucharest Declaration – October 2014 – AER has therefore called upon the Russian Federation to sign this time the financial agreement, to allow eligible Russian Regions to participate in the programme and take up their role as main governance actors in the area.



Whilst the Black Sea CBC programme certainly is an interesting tool to encourage interregional cooperation in the Black Sea Basin, its impact in raising the role of Regions as main governance actors remains, in our eyes, rather limited. The features of the new 2014-2020 programme look unlikely to bring many changes in that context.

AER, since its creation, has set as one of its main goals the promotion of strong Regions, as actors closest to the citizens and best aware of their strengths and needs. Since 2010, AER has established itself as a major platform for the promotion of strong and active Regions in the Black Sea area, by accompanying them in their capacity building efforts, raising their awareness of opportunities offered by the EU for financing their projects, and voicing their concerns and demands towards the EU and national authorities regarding the Black Sea CBC and other relevant programmes. In its last Bucharest Declaration (October 2014), AER called upon the creation of a Youth Black Sea Centre, on the model of what already exists in Strasbourg and Budapest. This was born after a long discussion about the importance, for peace and stability in Europe, of a sound cooperation and mutual understanding among the leaders of tomorrow. AER will organise its 6th Black Sea Summit in October 2015: let us hope that, by then, some progress has been made towards the setting up of this Centre, with strong involvement of all Black Sea Regions.


Strasbourg, End of  2014


[1] The Black Sea Euroregion was launched in 2008 in Varna (BG), with the support of the Congress of the Council of Europe but de facto ceased its activities :

[2] Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation :

[3] Full name: Black Sea Cross-Border-Cooperation Joint Operational Programme, called Black Sea CBC programme in this paper, for purpose of simplification.

[5] For further details, see :

[6] Project call 1, 19 projects, 4 regions from 4 countries (1 from MD, 1 from RO, 1 from UA, 1 from BG) and Project call 2, 43 projects, 2 regions from Greece. Information based on the analysis of the fact sheets of all projects, available on the Black Sea CBC programme website.

[7] At municipal level, though, Turkish partners became increasingly involved in the programme: whilst none took part in the first call, 9 out of the 22 municipalities involved in the projects financed under the second call were from Turkey.

[8] Priority 1: supporting cross-border partnerships for economic and social development based on common resources. Priority 2: Sharing resources and competencies for environmental protection and conservation. 

[9] Priority 3: Supporting cultural and educational networks for the establishment of a common cultural environment in the Basin

[10] The new programme will have two main objectives and 4 priorities :

-          Objective 1 : Promote business and entrepreneurship within the Black Sea Basin.

-          Objective 2 : Promote coordination of environmental protection and joint reduction of marine litter in the Black Sea Basin