Strengthening democracy and local governance

in the Eastern Partnership countries:

sharing the vision

10 - 11 July 2015

Hualing Hotel, Tbilisi, Georgia

Intervention by Nataliya Romanova, Vice-President of the Congress

Opening and Welcome

It is a great honour for me to be here today in Tbilisi to represent the Congress for the opening of the first regional Conference we are organising within the programme “Strengthening institutional frameworks for local governance”.

On behalf of the Congress, I would like to thank all our partners involved in the implementation of this programme, in particular the National Associations of Local Authorities of Georgia. NALAG who is a long-standing partner of the Congress since its creation in 2004, has accompanied us these past months and provided continuous and valuable support for the organisation of this Conference.

Dear Minister, dear Mr Javakhishvili , it is a great pleasure to hold this first regional Conference of this programme in Georgia. Since the start of this regional project, your country expressed on many occasions the will to take the lead when it comes to local democracy and to host such events – well, this is a concrete example of our collaboration!

I would also like to express my special gratitude to the European Union, represented today by Ambassador Herman, for providing, for the first time in its long-standing co-operation with the Council of Europe, the necessary funding to promote local governance in the Eastern Partnership countries. Today we show our determination to work together to promote and strengthen the European standards of democracy in this region.

And last but not least, I would like to thank Davit Narmania, for welcoming us inthis beautiful city of Tbilisi and for hosting us all for dinner tonight.

But before the festivities, we have a great work to accomplish during this two-day event. By gathering mayors, local councillors, their associations and non-governmental organisations, coming from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus – we intend to lay the foundation for a fruitful co-operation towards an enhanced local democracy in the region. Emphasis will be put on the roles and responsibilities of local elected representatives, on ethical decision-making processes at the local level, as well as on citizen participation.

In the Congress, we believe that local authorities should be a major stakeholder of the democratic system of a country. They should be given the possibility to intervene in the decision-making process when it touches upon the interest of their territories. This is provided by the European Charter of Local Self-Government, and as you know the Congress is entrusted to monitor the implementation of its principles, but not only it also supports member states in putting into practice our recommendations.

We have been engaged in post-monitoring dialogue in Georgia, in Moldova, in Ukraine, and will start soon in Armenia. The process had proven to be particularly fruitful with Ukraine, as the post monitoring roadmap for the implementation of the Congress recommendations for local democracy was signed with the Ukrainian authorities on 20 May 2015.

It is of paramount importance that efforts and actions are undertaken in member states of the Eastern Partnership to be in line with the Charter, and that all stakeholders have the knowledge and understanding of what the Charter entails, of the requirements to be met for enhanced local democracy.

We, in the Congress, work specifically with mayors, councillors, and their associations. They are our main partners in reinforcing the dialogue with central authorities, the dialogue with citizens, and an ethical decision-making.

I would like to seize this opportunity to invite you all to take active part in this conference and to provide your contribution to the preliminary draft Study on roles and responsibilities of mayors and local councillors, which will be presented during the round-table.

Dear mayors, dear councillors, dear representatives of associations and NGOs, the ownership of democratic processes is in your hands, and the Congress is happy to provide a platform for discussion and to support positive change through exchanges with peers and experts. I hope that during this two-day event you will be able to catch a glimpse of what the Congress intends to implement for the next two years and a half.

Only if we work together, we can accomplish remarkable results in improving local democracy in your respective countries! I thank you for your attention.