The Conference was organised by Center for Information Law and Policy (CILP) and was attended by representatives of non-governmental organizations from Eastern Europe (Macedonia and Bulgaria), CIS countries (Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan), and Armenian officials responsible for the development of information policies.

Ms. Larisa Minasyan, director of Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation – Armenia noted that “EU integration is a big open source project” in which member countries consider the ways for changing the way they function.

Presenting the Free and Open Source Software situation in Armenia, Ms. Taguhi Tumayan, CILP noted that one of the main issues is lack of comprehensive applied policies. Good news is that international donors ask for use of licensed software and 79% of the universities in Armenia use Free and Open Source Software for e-learning applications.

Presenting the applied policies in Eastern Europe, Ms. Julia Velkova, ISOC Bulgaria , noted that publishing laws licensed under free licenses can be considered as a step towards development of appropriate applied policies. She stressed the high value of Free and Open Source Software in education and in creating added value in local economy.

She presented State ICT Agency in Bulgaria as an example. The ICT Agency creates registry of open source projects that can be used by the governmental bodies. The municipalities use Linux due to the outdated hardware, despite the fact that the Government has bought MS Windows XP licenses. Ms. Velkova said the Extremadura region in Spain developed its own Linux version for the project within which a computer for each two students in primary school is provided.

Mr. Filip Stojanovski, Metamorphosis Foundation representative presented the Macedonian experience in applied policies development through the example of National Strategy for Development of Information Society , situation in local self-government units in Macedonia with the research conducted in May and June 2006, as well as innovative ways for raising awareness for free and open source software, and Get Your Job Done CD that has notable public reaction.

Speaking of Governmental OSS Policies, Mr. Asomiddin Atoev, Director of the Civil Initiative on Policy of Internet from Tajikistan referred to CSIS report Global Policies on OSS , adding that “a major difference between FOSS and proprietary software (PS) is in the way they provide access to the benefits of information society.” While PS promotes consumption and passivity of the users, FOSS turns the users into developers. He mentioned the examples of Tajikistan, whose e-Strategy considers FOSS as a tool to narrow the growing digital divide, and Singapore, where the state provides tax incentives for organizations using FOSS.

Comprehensive public debates on use of the free and open source software in education and public administration, as well as related legal framework and implications were organised at the second day of the conference. Major issues were discussed through concrete experiences: training and retraining of users, which depends on whether they are thought to use technologies, and not individual products (Mr. Atoev); lack of individual motivation of government employees, especially teachers, to increase their skill levels in Kazakhstan (Mr. Alexader Borovitsin from Information Initiatives Foundation); need for increased usability (Mr. Vyacheslav Baharev from Kiberkultura Kazakhstan); example of extensive use of localized FOSS in Armenian Army, aimed at untrained recruits who don’t know English (Mr. Ruben Muradyan of Public TV Company of Armenia); and copyright and/or patenting of software and algorithms in the legal framework session.

In the closing session of the conference, Mr. David Sandukhchyan from CILP affirmed the general impression of the effect of productive knowledge exchange and basis for networking of stakeholders from the wider region of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The participation of the Macedonian represenative in the conference was supported by FOSIM.