The Forum of Cities and Regions “Investing in Western Balkans - Investing in Europe” kicks off in Rzeszow, Poland
The Forum of Cities and Regions “Investing in Western Balkans - Investing in Europe”, organized by the Polish Ministry of Investment and Economic Development, in the framework of the Polish Presidency in the Berlin Process is taking place from 4-6 June in Rzeszow, Poland. The Forum is co-hosted by NALAS, The Association of Polish Cities and the Union of Provinces of Poland.
In the opening of the Forum, Ms. Dusanka Golubovic, Mayor of Sombor, NALAS Vice President, delivered her remarks. “We, at NALAS welcome this initiative by the Polish Presidency to include local and regional governments in the agenda of the events leading to the Western Balkan Policy Summit in four weeks from now in Poznan. In the frame of the Berlin process, the potential of sub-national governments involvement and contribution has not yet been addressed. The upcoming 5th Berlin process Western Balkan Summit in Poznan, despite the uncertainty about of the future of the Berlin process, is the opportunity to do so, considering the positive Polish experience, in bottom-up development both during the pre-accession and as a new EU MS. Bringing in the local government perspective in the Berlin process will be the merit and legacy of the Polish presidency. We, the local governments from SEE are recognising this contribution and appreciate this initiative.” - stated Ms.Golubovic.
Ms. Golubovic also emphasized local governments’ role in the effective implementation of the MAP REA: “Having taken note of the NALAS/KDZ survey and the recommendations of the NALAS and World Bank City-to-City Dialogue event recently held in Skopje, I think that it is quite clear that the question is not “IF” but rather “HOW” to involve the local government level as a strategic shareholder in MAP REA. Local governments are the key actors in preparing, promoting and successfully create in coordination with all other government tiers - the business community, academia and civil society organisations - an environment conducive for boosting investment, generating quality growth, the creation of jobs and contribute to the well-being of the citizens in the Western Balkans.”
The Head of Office of the Secretary General of RCC (Regional Cooperation Council), Ms. Elda Kalaja, indicated the importance to involve LGs in the implementation of MAP REA and mentioned in this context NALAS as a strategic partner of RCC.
The Forum will be a meeting of cities from the Western Balkans and partners participating in the Berlin Process providing the opportunity for an exchange with the European Commission, the Regional Cooperation Council and the Committee of the Regions to discuss the support on the Western Balkans in the process of European Integration and economic transformation.
All NALAS members Associations Presidents and Executive Directors will participate along with other cities and regions from Poland.
NALAS expectations are to send a clear message from the local level to the Western Balkan Policy Summit in Poznan to open up a space within the Berlin process for local governments to be heard, consulted and involved. This will help to recognise and use effectively the potential of cities, towns and municipalities in the frame of the Western Balkan Regional Economic Area (MAP REA) and to consolidate and keep the dynamics in EU integration process afloat.