Strengthening project development and project management capacities and increasing twinning opportunities of the cities in the Western Balkans was the aim of the EU Projects City Network in the Western Balkans, initiated by the City of Sarajevo and supported by GIZ and NALAS. Now, less than a year after the Network has been established, this is becoming a reality, was one of the conclusions of the Networking Meeting organised with the 11 cities, from 19 until 21 February 2024 in NALAS office in Skopje.

Cities’ representatives presented and discussed the benefits, results and lessons learnt from the experience in the City Network, reporting more than 30 submitted projects during this period, out of which 4 were joint, one has been approved and three are pending.

“Initiating this project year ago, we could not imagine that we will achieve this much”, said Ms. Nermina Suljevic, Head of Department for Sustainable Development at the City of Sarajevo.  

“The investment in people in our Municipality equals to zero, that is why this project is so important to us. Our department has advanced a lot thanks to this project”, added Mr. Ivica Arsov, Head of the Local Economic Development Department in the Municipality of Sveti Nikole.

“The training course in EU project development organised by this project was my first training on this topic. Thanks to it we applied with seven projects and already won one”, said Ms. Natasha Bigovic, Project Administrator in the City of Niksic.  

GIZ and NALAS staff presented their ongoing initiatives and projects that the cities can benefit from. Cities generated new ideas in different program areas where GIZ and NALAS are active, such as: improvement of local public services, citizens‘ participation, digitalisation, energy and climate, equality of women and men at local level, city-to-city cross border cooperation, etc.

The cities discussed the future of the City Network, concluding that they are committed to keep the Network active, for which they developed two scenarios, with and without project support.

The group visited the Municipality of Sveti Nikole, one of the Network’s members, and discusses with the Mayor and municipal staff. Also, they had the chance to experience local dynamics, by visiting the City Museum, and two volunteer organisations, the volunteer firefighters and women’s organisation, both supported by the Municipality.

Finally, the participants discussed the new open calls and developed two teams that will work on two project applications.