Over one hundred Mayors, Deputy Mayors, representatives of local governments and local government associations from the whole South-East Europe (SEE) met in Skopje, Macedonia on 19 and 20 April 2013 for the VIII General Assembly of their umbrella organization, the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS) and a workshop on Municipal Finance Database.
The General Assembly was opened by the NALAS President for 2012, Dr. Ozgen Keskin, Mayor of Yildirim Municipality, Bursa, Turkey, and Mr. Koce Trajanovski, President of the Association of Local-Government Units in Macedonia (ZELS) and Mayor of Skopje.
“It is my pleasure to open NALAS VIII General Assembly”, said Mr. Keskin. “In the past years, NALAS has become the most important network in South-East Europe, significantly contributing to knowledge and information exchange among SEE municipalities, strengthening and positioning local governments and advancing the decentralization process”.
“I wish you a warm welcome to Skopje and Macedonia. The pleasure to have you here is even bigger considering the fact that the first General Assembly of NALAS was held in Skopje, back in 2005”, said Mr. Trajanovski. “The local elections in Macedonia just finished and this is my very first working day as a re-elected mayor of Skopje. I have to admit that many of the projects I have implemented as a mayor and the ones that I have planned for the new term, come from the exchange and experience sharing I had with all of you, through NALAS”.
Mr. Anton Pershak appointed a new NALAS President
In 2011, NALAS introduced a new, rotation presidency system, where the President serves for one year, accompanied by the First, Second and Third Vice-President, who later on become NALAS Presidents.
During the VIII General Assembly, Mr. Anton Pershak, Mayor of Trzin Municiplaity, Slovenia, was appointed a new NALAS President. “It is my pleasure to become the new President of NALAS and continue the good work that my predecessors have started”, said Mr. Pershak in his first speech as NALAS President. “Current times are very stressful, because of the economic crises, especially for local communities. We have to seek for new ways to increase jobs and deal with social issues, as well as to propose legislative changes, which will enable us to advance fiscal decentralization and solve local issues more easily. So, there is a lot of work ahead of us, and I hope that with the contribution of all of you, this will be made possible”.
Along with the new President, NALAS appointed three Vice-Presidents, who will represent the political level of NALAS in the upcoming years. Mr. Djuro Bukvic, Mayor of Lukac Municipality and President of the Association of Municipalities in Croatia became the First Vice President of NALAS. Mr. Emil Draghici, Mayor of Vulcana Bai and President of the Association of Communes of Romania became the Second Vice President of NALAS, while Mr. Naim Ismajli, Mayor of Shtime Municipality and President of the Board of the Association of Kosovo Municipalities was appointed the Third Vice President of NALAS.
The Albanian Association of Communes became the 16th NALAS full member
During the VIII General Assembly, the Albanian Association of Communes (AAC) became a full member of NALAS. Now, NALAS gathers 16 Associations of Local Governments from SEE. Mr. Fatbardh Plaku, the President of AAC addressed the delegates and thanked for the opportunity to become a full members of NALAS.
AAC is a national organization, founded in 1997, for a unified representation of communes of Albania, in the context of supporting and promoting local governance and democracy. The Association represents 308 communes of Albania, covering about 55% of country’s population. AAC is committed to deepening the decentralization process in Albania, strengthening the capacity of municipalities, improving the institutional and legal framework to help local entities, and their ongoing information.
For more information about the Albanian Association of Communes please check www.aac-al.org.
Delegates approved NALAS reports for 2012 and work plan for 2013
During the VIII General Assembly, NALAS provided detailed information about its work in 2012. Mr. Kelmend Zajazi, NALAS Executive Director, informed about the key activities and achievements that earmarked 2012 for NALAS, such as: strengthening NALAS services to members, developing the role of NALAS Task Forces, evidence-based dialogue with SEE central governments on fiscal decentralization, role in shaping regional policies and closer collaboration with the European Commission.
The two external evaluations, conducted by SDC and GIZ in 2012 proved NALAS achievements. As an illustration, one of them stated: “The recent NALAS publication, “Fiscal Decentralization Indicators for South – East Europe” is an extraordinary achievement for NALAS. The accompanying Prishtina Declaration calling on a recommitment to decentralization in SEE to facilitate European integration is an excellent example of the collective strength of NALAS in furthering the SEE voice in the European context”.
Throughout 2012, NALAS bodies collectively worked on developing its new Strategic Plan, for the period 2013-2017. Bringing NALAS to a new development level of organizational maturity, the new Strategic Plan will have four main objectives:
1. Strengthened role of NALAS Knowledge Center, as the main knowledge platform for SEE local governments. This will be achieved, among other things, by establishing NALAS E-Academy.
2. Improved and expanded NALAS services to strengthen LGAs and their member local governments in the decentralization process.
3. Interests of SEE Local Governments visible and taken into account by European institutions.
4. Financial sustainability of NALAS.
With a consent, delegates approved NALAS financial and activity reports for 2013, its new Strategic Plan and the work plan for 2013.
NEXPO International Municipal Fair-the largest NALAS activity for 2013
After the success of NEXPO 2011 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from 25-27 September 2013, NALAS will held NEXPO 2013 International Municipal Fair in Rijeka and Opatija, Croatia. Ms. Jelena Janevska, NALAS Knowledge and Communications Manager informed the delegates about this largest SEE municipal event, that will host over 3000 participants and give a space for 174 exhibitors from local governments, the business sector and development agencies. NEXPO 2013, hosted under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Croatia, His Excellency Ivo Josipovic, will offer a conference, variety of workshops, exhibitions, rich cultural program, Mayors’ caffe and possibility for matchmaking between businesses and local governments.
For more information about NEXPO 2013 and booking your booth, please check http://nexpo.nalas.eu/.
Role of NALAS in developing SEE Strategy 2020 and promoting equality among women and men in local life
As a follow-up of developing the Europe 2020 Strategy from June 2012, the Regional Cooperation Council took the lead to develop South-East Europe 2020 Strategy. Ms. Milena Garthley, NALAS Programme Officer, at the VIII NALAS General Assembly presented NALAS engagement in developing the SEE 2020 Strategy and thus positioning local government perspective. The SEE 2020 Strategy focuses on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and targets governance as a special focus. NALAS has been appointed to coordinate the pillar Governance for Growth, by integrating inputs from its members, but also other SEE networks. NALAS inputs are expected to contribute to emphasizing local government perspective in this important document, but also influencing governance at a regional level and IPA II funds.
In its work, NALAS strives to promote equality among women and man in local life. Ms. Natasha Ilijeva-Acevska, NALAS Programme Officer, presented NALAS information about participation of women and men in SEE local governments, their associations and NALAS bodies. Since it is evident that much more effort is needed to enhance participation of women in local life, NALAS proposed that it becomes an ambassador of the European Charter on Equality of Women and Men in local life. The delegates of the VIII NALAS General Assembly unanimously supported this proposal.
ZELS, the Association of Local Self-Government Units of Macedonia opened its doors for NALAS General Assembly Delegates
The two-days program of the VIII NALAS General Assembly also included a visit to the Association of Local Self-Government Units of Macedonia (ZELS) to discuss its e-Governance projects, which are often referred to as a best practice for SEE, and a visit to their new Training Centre. Mr. Koce Trajanovski, President of ZELS and Mayor of Skopje and Ms. Dusica Perisic, Executive Director of ZELS welcomed the NALAS General Assembly delegates and presented ZELS work and key achievements in the area of e-Governance.
Workshop on Municipal Finance Database
20 April 2013, the second day of VIII NALAS General Assembly, was devoted for a workshop on Municipal Finance Database, aimed to raise an important discussion on the significance of integrated municipal finance database in managing municipal functions and providing good quality services for all.
The workshop was opened by a tailored-made theatre play, performed by professional actors, which illustrated how the lack of comprehensive, coordinated and integrated database might have severe consequences on the development of the municipality.
To watch the full theatre play, please click HERE
During the workshop on Municipal Finance Database, NALAS presented its efforts for implementation of evidence-based practices for intergovernmental finance reforms and the use of data in a regional context. Information on municipal finances and performance assist local government associations in policy design, strengthen their capacity to advocate reform steps and to actively participate in modernization of local government finances.
The Western Balkans Municipal Finance Review supported by the World Bank ECA Sustainable Cities Initiative and SEE Urban Partnership Program, as well as ZELS Database were also presented during the workshop. At a roundtable, delegates discussed what it takes to establish, maintain and sustain a Municipal Finance Database within local government associations and NALAS.
NALAS VIII General Assembly in the media
Both printed and electronic media covered VIII NALAS General Assembly. To download the press-release and the press-clipping, please check:GA Press-Clipping.pdf.
For viewing one of the news stories, please click HERE
General Assembly Materials for download: