Extra costs of East-East cooperation are related to:
In the field of human resources NGOs are depending on the few paid staff members they have. The same people who are already project coordinators, NGO leaders, managers, secretaries and fund raisers. For successful East-East cooperation NGOs need:
The second organization connected problem is that the NGOs are 'too busy with surviving as an organization'. This means that a lot of NGOs are focused on their internal problems, like fighting to raise money and struggling with their organizational structure and strategy, so that there is no time and energy left to see what other organizations do. Sometimes groups simply do not think about cooperation as a probable solution for survival.
A third obstacle connected to the type of organization is the lack of appropriate NGO(s) in the neighboring country. Appropriate in this case means: having the same strategy, philosophy, organizational culture and so on. Especially for the Czech campaigning group Hnuti Duha this factor plays an important role, since they are almost the only big and radical campaigning group in CEE.
The second topic related obstacle is the lack of a potential partner NGO dealing with the same issue in the neighboring country. The Polish Olawa and Nysa Klodzka Foundation did overcome this problem by looking for other social actors at the other side of the border. Then they found the local government ready to join them in a project for cleaning up the Olawa and Nysa Klodzka river basin. This can be seen as an alternative form of East-East cooperation.
The first fact is that the former communist regimes forced cooperation with the other communist countries. The unpleasant feeling of being forced is still fresh in most people's minds. It is obvious that time is needed to overcome this prejudice towards East-East cooperation.
Second the former closed political systems in the CEE countries did not allow Easterners to travel to Western Europe. So directly after the changes Easterners were eager to go to the West. It is not that strange that also environmental NGOs are focused on East-West cooperation instead of East-East cooperation. Since the revolutions in the CEE countries everybody is looking to the West for all kinds of support, from financial to information. The last years this one-sided look to the West is changing. East is coming in the picture again, because the growing strength and influence of Eastern environmental NGOs and also because of the diminishing attention at especially Central Europe from the Western organizations.
Thirdly, a practical problem with an actual background is a barrier called border formalities. Especially the borders of Slovakia, Ukraine and the Kaliningrad region are not easy to pass. While they take time for human transfer, and sometimes money for visa, they are almost closed for money transfers. To give your Ukrainian counterpart some financial support you have to go there yourself with the money cash in your pocket, otherwise about 50% tax will be levied over it. As both Strom Zivota and the Environmental Partnership for Central Europe experience with their East-East cooperative projects.
The next actual political problem is the fact that some current governments are not in favor of East-East cooperation. They are focused on the West for cooperation, or specify which Eastern countries should be cooperated with, like the Slovakian government prefers cooperation with Ukraine and discourages contacts with the Czech Republic. Problems with minorities also play a role in this earmarking of favorite cooperative countries.
Finally, at fifth, the general legislation for NGOs is not in all countries well organized and positive for the groups. We can find three specific problems with a legislative background:
Second the often expressed hesitation to trust potential partners is an obstacle for East-East cooperation, which can have its origin in the cultural or historical character of Easterners, but as much be part of the human nature.
Third, stereotyping of neighboring nations might be a problem, but according to the NGOs this is mainly a problem of political leaders in the Central European countries. Of course stereotypes exist in everybody's minds, so the negative stereotyping can be seen as a socio-cultural obstacle for East-East cooperation as well. Examples of negative stereotyping are the way Hungarians think about Romanians and Slovakians about Ukrainians. Definitely more stereotypes play a role, mainly on national political level, when ethnic minorities are involved.[Siegel andYancey, 1992, p. 27] Instead of being an obstacle nationalistic tendencies resulting from stereotyping can rather be a motivation for NGOs to start East-East cooperation. This is the case when they want to show their governments and the society that cooperation with those 'strange' neighbors is really possible.[Siegel and Yancey, 1992, p. 17]
A fourth, more psychological, obstacle especially for East-East cooperation is a lack of self confidence of CEE NGOs. This lack of confidence prevents them from offering their experiences and knowledge to potential cooperative partners. The lack of self confidence makes groups unreliable partners for other groups, while the look for assistance stays focused on the West. From a position of low self confidence groups does not take responsibility for their own development and the effectiveness of the environmental movement in their country and the CEE region. Concluding this means that a lack of self confidence might prevent successful implementation of East-East cooperation.
More exists a practical communication obstacle, the language problems. Not so many people speak English, or German, Russian is very unpopular and Hungarians do not understand Slovakians and so on. If Czech, Slovak and Polish people really want, they can understand each other, since the Slavic languages have enough in common to speak about a 'common understandable language'. Anyway, this is not that easy and for high level organizational and financial discussions the language barrier is too big. In those cases a third language like English is needed, which is not necessarily available within the NGO. Again Westerners can be very handy to overcome this problem.