The aims of this research were at first to gain more insight in the determining factors for East-East cooperation and the behavior of environmental NGOs in CEE regarding to East-East cooperation. The second aim of this study was to evaluate the present policy of the REC and to develop a new strategy for the REC's Earmarked Grants Program. The Earmarked Grants Team's main focus is to promote East-East cooperation.
The empirical part of the research consisted of 25 half open in-depth interviews with environmental activists in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. From these 25, 20 people were representing their particular East-East cooperative NGO. The other five were opinion leaders within the environmental movement of their country. The four Central European countries were selected for this research, because these were considered comparable both on the development and stage of the environmental movement and the economical situation. In order to take a sample five opinion leaders per country listed the East-East cooperative NGOs in their country. About 80% of the strongly recommended East-East cooperative NGOs were interviewed. Strongly recommended means, listed by at least three of the five opinion leaders.
The theoretical outlines of this research are a modified mixture of the Research Mobilization Approach of Zald and McCarthy and McAdams political process model. These two theories in combination with the more practical study of Rucht on cross-national cooperation brought up the research hypotheses. Several factors could have their influence on East-East cooperation. All factors are divided in five categories of factors. Each category of factors results in a specific hypothesis for the attitude and/or behavior of the environmental NGOs with regard to East-East cooperation. At first the topic related factors lead to the hypothesis that a specific topic and/or very similar situation is needed before East-East cooperation will be established. At second the political-historical factors give the hypothesis that the attitude of environmental NGOs towards East-East cooperation will be one of doubts about the surplus value of East-East cooperation, in combination with a focus on national or local level activities. At third the socio-cultural factors lead to the hypothesis that East-East cooperation will cost extra effort of the NGOs to overcome language problems, cultural differences and/or nationalistic sentiments. At fourth two organization connected factors hypothesize that it will be necessary to find a similar NGO with enough institutional capacity in the neighboring country in order to establish East-East cooperation. Finally the social-economical factor brings us to the hypothesis that a lot of environmental NGOs in Central Europe will have problems in mobilizing the necessary resources. This means that only if East-East cooperation brings extra resources it might be interesting for the environmental NGOs to establish East-East cooperation.
The main actors in this research are the environmental NGOs in Central Europe and the Regional Environmental Center. The environmental movement of Central Europe has its roots partly in the communist epoch or even before World War II. In all four countries environmental organizations existed already under the supervision of the communist governments. During the 1980s two categories of environmental organizations could be found throughout Central Europe; those created 'from above' and those created from 'below'. The first type of organizations was established by the communist party or as a part of communist youth organizations. The second type could be found in the political oppositional groups. In general the environmental movement played an important role in the political change in Central Europe during 1989-1990. At this moment the situation of the environmental movement in Central Europe does not look that positive. A lack of human and financial resources is felt, while the political interest of the Central European governments is definitely not on environmental issues. The environmental movement in Central Europe is splintered, but still alive and developing.
The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) is an independent, non-advocacy, non-profit foundation. REC was established in 1990 by Hungary, the United States, and the Commission of the European Communities. Seven countries have since joined these founding sponsors. REC's mission is to promote cooperation among diverse environmental groups and interests in Central and Eastern Europe; to act as a catalyst for developing solutions to environmental problems in this region; and to promote the development of a civil society. Beneficiary countries are Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia.
The research results are at first a profile of the average East-East cooperative NGO, which describes the general characteristics of the East-East cooperative NGO. These characteristics are divided into: historical background, the organizational structure, goals and activities, available resources and external relations. At second the motivation for East-East cooperation, its experienced benefits, problems and expected future, according to the interviewed NGOs, have been found. The motivation for and the problems of East-East cooperation could be divided into four categories of influential factors. Both positive and negative factors are divided into: Organization connected, Topic related, Political-Historical and Socio-Cultural. Experienced benefits of East-East cooperation were found on organizational and personal level. The future of East-East cooperation was regarded positive, both for the own organization and for the environmental movement in Central Europe in general. At third the interviewed NGOs have given their opinion on REC and the RECs Earmarked Grants Team, together with suggestions on how to promote East-East cooperation.
Concluding the research, it can be stated that East-East cooperation among environmental NGOs in Central Europe will be established based on a common topic, which is usually transboundary, and good personal contacts, though only if enough institutional capacity of at least one NGO is available. It was quite surprising that the factor good personal contacts turned out to be a key factor for establishing East-East cooperation. After these three factors, two other important factors play a role. At first the consequences of the political opportunities structure and at second the Western influence. Both factors define a part of the surrounding of environmental NGOs, respectively on national and international level. The national and international environment of environmental NGOs should be conducive towards at least the development of a NGO community, preferably also towards a regionwide vision and East-East cooperation where necessary if applicable. In this research sample no East-East cooperation without East-West cooperation existed. The contacts with Western organizations and/or worldwide networks proved to have been highly important for establishing East-East cooperation. For the future of East-East cooperation we should not underestimate the influence of Western support, and with that East-West cooperation, as a precursor of East-East cooperation.
Regarding the second research aim, we come back to the daily practice of RECs Earmarked Grants Team. The RECs tasks and challenges in the field of East-East cooperation are huge. The interviewed NGOs , who are among the Earmarked Grants Team's clients, provided criticism on this Team. Clear mutual communication between the Earmarked Grants Team and the environmental NGOs, together with an attitude shift of the Earmarked Grants Team towards a client friendly approach, might meet this criticism and improve the mutual understanding and relationships. The results of the pilot project on East-East cooperation started in spring 1996. Its results might show the future of East-East cooperation among environmental NGOs in Central and Eastern Europe.