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Within the frame of the project ”Strengthening local participation and cooperation through partnership of Public Authorities and CSOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina – LINK 4 Cooperation” funded by the European Union, second Forum for sharing best practices of CSOs and LAs cooperation was held in Prijedor today, gathering over 60 participants.

In addition to representatives of the international community the Forum was attended by representatives of local authorities and CSOs from Berkovici, Jablanica, Kostajnica, Maglaj, Mostar, Nevesinje, Novi Grad, Prijedor, Ravno, Trebinje, Zavidovici and Zepce, who jointly identified specific challenges of cooperation and expressed readiness to find optimal solutions to strengthen cooperation. Additionally, as the key tools in the context of joining the European Union an assessment of the impact and importance of the ELoGE process and the Leadership Academy (LAP) program of Council of Europe was also carried out.

Slobodan Javor, Mayor of the City of Prijedor and one of the hosts of the Forum, emphasized the importance of commitment to continuous improvement of public services and achieving more efficient and responsible management:

”The very fact that we are part of such an important project speaks of how important it is to us to strengthen local participation and cooperation with the non-governmental sector. Also, through the segments and opportunities provided by the project, we strive to take into account the recommendations, all with the aim of improving local self-government, openness and transparency towards citizens. The Leadership Academy Program and the implementation of the ELoGE process is of great importance to us, because through certain processes we see, I can freely say, small defects that we eliminate and thereby improve all processes in our work. The City of Prijedor has a clear vision of development, which has the ultimate goal of being a city where people enjoy living and working, but also a city where once you come, you want to come back every time.”

Referring to the importance of participatory processes as a key factor in the development and stability of local democracy, Dženana Dedić, director of the Local Democracy Agency Mostar, emphasized:

“The reform of local government in Bosnia and Herzegovina must achieve a high degree of direct participation of citizens, which is in accordance with current strategies and recommendations of international organizations. Accordingly, local government bodies in Bosnia and Herzegovina should provide conditions and tools for the inclusion of citizens in the decision-making process, and citizens should take responsibility for decision-making. The process of moving from a representative or indirect form of democracy to a direct or participative form is long and complex, and above all it implies an adequate assessment of the situation and then adequate education as a basis for creating a system that will ensure participatory democracy.”

Bearing in mind ALDA’s experience in launching the ELoGE program in Croatia, North Macedonia and Kosovo, Antonella Valmorbida, general secretary of the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), addressed the participants of the Forum, saying:

“Good governance is the foundation of a functional and lasting democratic system. ALDA is honored to receive accreditation for the ELoGE – European Label of Excellence in Governance. An important program that, thanks to the partnership with the Council of Europe, contributes to the strengthening of democracy around the world and the establishment of a closer relationship between local authorities, civil society organizations and European institutions.”

“LINK 4 Cooperation” project aims to strengthen the capacity of local authorities and civil society organizations in conducting participatory processes in order to jointly identify specific problems of communities and, thanks to a participatory approach, find the best solutions. The project consortium consists of the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Mostar, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Zavidovici, the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) Prijedor, the Center for the Development of Herzegovina (CRH), the European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA), and associate partner ALDA Skopje. Implementation began on January 1, 2021 and will last until December 31, 2023. Its value is over 540,000 EUR, of which the European Union provided over 490,000 EUR in grants.