By: Jelena Janevska, NALAS Knowledge and Communications Manager
The fifteenth General Assembly, held from 27-30 April 2020, marked an important milestone in the headway of the Network of Associations of Local Authorities in South-East Europe (NALAS) on its path to advancing the role of local government in South-East Europe. This General Assembly was not an ordinary one. Working under the pressure to respond to all the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, the delegates, Mayors representing NALAS member Associations, casted their votes online, deciding about important NALAS issues for the future.
Based on the rotation Presidency system, Mr. Emanuil Manolov, Mayor of Pavlikeni Municipality in Bulgaria, assumed the role of NALAS President, who will lead the Network in the next year.
Mr. Manolov is Mayor of Pavlikeni Municipality since 2011. Under his leadership, the municipality has managed to attract EU funding of 50 million euros and was twice awarded with the European Label of Governance Excellence (ELoGE) of the Council of Europe, while Mr. Manolov received the prestigious award “Mayor of the Month” in the categories “Agriculture” and “Water Attractions”.
JJ: Mayor Manolov, congratulations for the new role you just assumed, President of NALAS. Since you have been a Vice-President of the Network and a Delegate in its General Assembly on behalf of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB), you are quite familiar with NALAS’ work. What does NALAS mean to you personally, as a Mayor?
EM: Assuming the role of President of the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe is a great honour, at the same time serious responsibility. The Network has proven itself as an organisation, capable of supporting its members in the process of decentralisation and strengthening the democratic processes in accordance with the principles of the European Charter for Local Self-Government.
Over the years, NALAS has managed to build an effective, competent and qualified team and leadership. Through its active work, the organisation has gained popularity not only in the region but also at international stage, and is increasingly recognised as a key partner for the development of local authorities in SEE.
As a delegate to the General Assembly and a participant in other events organised by NALAS, I can conclude that the organisation is not only quickly developing and finding new spheres for its activities, but also successfully establishes new partnerships in the face of the European Commission, the Regional Cooperation Council, the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, etc. Thanks to pragmatic solutions and generated ideas, the members of the Network can count on a reliable partner to find solutions to current issues and topics, not only of regional, but also of global importance, that affect the functioning of local authorities, while taking into account their local specificities and needs.
Coming to the question of the importance of NALAS to me personally as a Mayor – it is a source of ideas, inspiration and an opportunity to share experiences and practices with each other. Creating a network of contacts and cooperation with partners from other countries in the region gives us a different perspective and at the same time is a chance to get to know each other better in our cultural diversity. Taking the advantage of cross-border cooperation opportunities, local authorities can work more successfully on joint projects that lead to better results and improve the lives of our citizens.
We have the capacity to build sustainable communities based on smart and innovative growth through quality services and job creation. NALAS support for capacity building, advocacy, including access to alternative financial instruments and participation in various projects is crucial for the professional evolution of our administrations, for expanding the instruments and areas in which we can be of support to our citizens, for the regional cohesion, for the implementation of international commitments for sustainable development or for attracting investment.
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Interview with NALAS President, Mayor Emanuil Manolov