DEBATE ON CYBERSPACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS BY FRENCH AND BALKAN EXPERTS IN CAEN (FR)

Information and public debate organized from French and Balkan experts will be held on Wednesday, June 8 in the Auditorium Hall of the Regional Council of Lower Normandy in Caen.

 

The participants will hear and discuss about the element of our daily lives – the internet. Considered by the Constitutional Council, the internet access is as a fundamental freedom for free expression of ideas and opinions which is essential to the democracy development.

Driven by the question “Digital tools – an opportunity to strengthen human rights or a threat that compromise them?” the experts will analyse their work, participate at round tables and measure the impact of digital tools on the human rights and democratic practices.

This event is organised by the Lower Normandy Region, the International Institute for Peace and Human Rights (Caen, France), ALDA and the association Metamorphosis (Skopje, Macedonia) in the framework of the Decentralized cooperation programme between the Region Lower Normandy and Macedonia, and the Network France-Balkans.

For further information please consult Mrs. Biljana Zasova biljana.zasova@aldaintranet.org.

Information and public debate organized from French and Balkan experts will be held on Wednesday, June 8 in the Auditorium Hall of the Regional Council of Lower Normandy in Caen.

 

The participants will hear and discuss about the element of our daily lives – the internet. Considered by the Constitutional Council, the internet access is as a fundamental freedom for free expression of ideas and opinions which is essential to the democracy development.

Driven by the question “Digital tools – an opportunity to strengthen human rights or a threat that compromise them?” the experts will analyse their work, participate at round tables and measure the impact of digital tools on the human rights and democratic practices.

This event is organised by the Lower Normandy Region, the International Institute for Peace and Human Rights (Caen, France), ALDA and the association Metamorphosis (Skopje, Macedonia) in the framework of the Decentralized cooperation programme between the Region Lower Normandy and Macedonia, and the Network France-Balkans.

For further information please consult Mrs. Biljana Zasova biljana.zasova@aldaintranet.org.


“NEW CHALLENGES OF YOUTH INFORMATION” WILL BE ANALYZED IN PRILEP (MK)

Macedonian and French experts will host two day seminar on June 14 and 15 in Prilep, Macedonia. The participants and organizers will discuss the methodology, expectations and practices in youth information and policy as well as local realities and implementation. The objective of the conference is to present the model and need for youth information and exchange of experiences regarding Youth information centers in Europe and in Macedonia.

 

The workshops will promote youth participation and information centers (work and set up). This event will be closed with final discussions, evaluation and signing of Declaration of youth information centers in several Macedonian municipalities.

The seminar is organized by SEGA (Coalition of youth organization) from Macedonia, House of Europe – Caen with participation of Youth Information Desk – “Kiosk” from Saint-Lô from the region Lower Normandy.

This event is part of the Decentralized cooperation programme between the Region Lower Normandy and republic of Macedonia, coordinated by ALDA. For further information please contact Katica Janeva katica.janeva@aldaintranet.org or visit the webpage of the Cooperation http://crbn-mk.courriers.info/.

Macedonian and French experts will host two day seminar on June 14 and 15 in Prilep, Macedonia. The participants and organizers will discuss the methodology, expectations and practices in youth information and policy as well as local realities and implementation. The objective of the conference is to present the model and need for youth information and exchange of experiences regarding Youth information centers in Europe and in Macedonia.

 

The workshops will promote youth participation and information centers (work and set up). This event will be closed with final discussions, evaluation and signing of Declaration of youth information centers in several Macedonian municipalities.

The seminar is organized by SEGA (Coalition of youth organization) from Macedonia, House of Europe – Caen with participation of Youth Information Desk – “Kiosk” from Saint-Lô from the region Lower Normandy.

This event is part of the Decentralized cooperation programme between the Region Lower Normandy and republic of Macedonia, coordinated by ALDA. For further information please contact Katica Janeva katica.janeva@aldaintranet.org or visit the webpage of the Cooperation http://crbn-mk.courriers.info/.


GEORGIA: POLICE VIOLENTLY DISPERSE PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATION. STATEMENT OF THE FIRST WORKING GROUP OF THE EAP CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM.

We, participants of the First Working Group on Democracy, Good Governance and Stability of the EaP Civil Society Forum deeply regret the events that took place in the capital of Georgia on 26th of May, when riot police violently dispersed largely peaceful demonstration using excessive force.  The violence resulted in the loss of human lives, many demonstrators have been injured, some disappeared and dozens have been arrested.

 

According to the reports of the domestic and international human rights organizations, police pursued fleeing demonstrators, kicking and beating many, using rubber truncheons. In one case, they chased down demonstrators who had taken shelter in a nearby cinema, detaining them and kicking and beating many as they exited.

Though under the Georgian legislation, the demonstration was unauthorized, nothing can justify prohibited ill-treatment of demonstrators.

We call on the Government of Georgia to launch an immediate, thorough, and impartial investigation into excessive and disproportionate use of force and hold those responsible accountable.

We request from authorities to restrain from politically motivated detentions and unlawful pressure on opposition activists.

We also call upon all political actors and society to restrain from any kind of violence, preserve public accord and promote reconciliation.

We call on the EU to request an independent investigation and monitor the actions taken to safeguard against future human rights violations, and to express its concerns directly to the Georgian government.

We, participants of the First Working Group on Democracy, Good Governance and Stability of the EaP Civil Society Forum deeply regret the events that took place in the capital of Georgia on 26th of May, when riot police violently dispersed largely peaceful demonstration using excessive force.  The violence resulted in the loss of human lives, many demonstrators have been injured, some disappeared and dozens have been arrested.

 

According to the reports of the domestic and international human rights organizations, police pursued fleeing demonstrators, kicking and beating many, using rubber truncheons. In one case, they chased down demonstrators who had taken shelter in a nearby cinema, detaining them and kicking and beating many as they exited.

Though under the Georgian legislation, the demonstration was unauthorized, nothing can justify prohibited ill-treatment of demonstrators.

We call on the Government of Georgia to launch an immediate, thorough, and impartial investigation into excessive and disproportionate use of force and hold those responsible accountable.

We request from authorities to restrain from politically motivated detentions and unlawful pressure on opposition activists.

We also call upon all political actors and society to restrain from any kind of violence, preserve public accord and promote reconciliation.

We call on the EU to request an independent investigation and monitor the actions taken to safeguard against future human rights violations, and to express its concerns directly to the Georgian government.


PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION REFORM IN EAP COUNTRIES: POSITION PAPER OF THE CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM FOR THE FIRST SESSION OF CORLEAP (Poznan, 8th of September)

A position paper on needs of Public Administration Reform al local and regional level en EaP Countries has been approved by the PA subgroup of the Working Group 1 of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.
The document will be presented at the occasion of the first session of the CORLEAP, the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities of the Eastern Partnership and the EU, organized by the CoR, Committee of the Region of the European Union that will take place in Poznań (Adam Mickiewicz University Grand Hall – 8th of September 2011).

“The CSF –is written in the Position Paper- welcomes the inclusion of local and regional authorities in the implementation of Eastern Partnership and the establishment of annual conference (CORLEAP) with this
aim. This initiative will enhance dialogue between all stakeholders participating in the reforms in the countries ensuring that more consistent and consensus-based steps are taken”.
The document analyzes challenges and needs for Local self‐government Reforms and for carrying out administrative reforms on regional level, and concludes with an appeals to the Committee of Region and to Local Governments.
The CORLEAP, an annual conference organised by the CoR, and chaired by its president, would provide an input to the work of the CoR in the field of Eastern Partnership, including the CoR’s contribution to the EaP Platforms. It could gather 36 regional/local representatives (18 of which represent local and regional authorities from the Partner Countries, and 18 the CoR).

Download the CORLEAP meeting programme here

A position paper on needs of Public Administration Reform al local and regional level en EaP Countries has been approved by the PA subgroup of the Working Group 1 of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.
The document will be presented at the occasion of the first session of the CORLEAP, the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities of the Eastern Partnership and the EU, organized by the CoR, Committee of the Region of the European Union that will take place in Poznań (Adam Mickiewicz University Grand Hall – 8th of September 2011).

“The CSF –is written in the Position Paper- welcomes the inclusion of local and regional authorities in the implementation of Eastern Partnership and the establishment of annual conference (CORLEAP) with this
aim. This initiative will enhance dialogue between all stakeholders participating in the reforms in the countries ensuring that more consistent and consensus-based steps are taken”.
The document analyzes challenges and needs for Local self‐government Reforms and for carrying out administrative reforms on regional level, and concludes with an appeals to the Committee of Region and to Local Governments.
The CORLEAP, an annual conference organised by the CoR, and chaired by its president, would provide an input to the work of the CoR in the field of Eastern Partnership, including the CoR’s contribution to the EaP Platforms. It could gather 36 regional/local representatives (18 of which represent local and regional authorities from the Partner Countries, and 18 the CoR).

Download the CORLEAP meeting programme here


THE THIRD MEETING OF THE EASTERN PARTNERSHIP CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM WILL BE HELD IN POZNAN, POLAND, ON 28-30 NOVEMBER 2011.

The third meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum will be held in Poznan, Poland, Oo 28-30 November 2011.

 

The Steering Committee of the EaP Civil Society Forum, in cooperation with the European Commission/European External Action Service, is now inviting all interested parties to submit expressions of interest to participate in the third meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. The submission of expressions of interest is a necessary step in the selection process to participate in the EaP CSF meeting on 28-30 November 2011.

The extended format (from 1,5 up to three days) of the EaP CSF has been made possible thanks to the European Commission/European External Action Service and the generous support of Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Complementing the work already done by the Forum 2009 and 2010, this annual event will be mainly focusing working groups, we would elaborate common programmes and activities.

The application form prepared by the CSF Steering Committee can be found since May 23, 2011 on the official CSF website – www.eap-csf.eu

Submissions of expressions of interest (see application form attached) should be completed in English and sent before 26 June 2011to the contact e-mail address: applications@eap-csf.eu

The third meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum will be held in Poznan, Poland, Oo 28-30 November 2011.

 

The Steering Committee of the EaP Civil Society Forum, in cooperation with the European Commission/European External Action Service, is now inviting all interested parties to submit expressions of interest to participate in the third meeting of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum. The submission of expressions of interest is a necessary step in the selection process to participate in the EaP CSF meeting on 28-30 November 2011.

The extended format (from 1,5 up to three days) of the EaP CSF has been made possible thanks to the European Commission/European External Action Service and the generous support of Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Complementing the work already done by the Forum 2009 and 2010, this annual event will be mainly focusing working groups, we would elaborate common programmes and activities.

The application form prepared by the CSF Steering Committee can be found since May 23, 2011 on the official CSF website – www.eap-csf.eu

Submissions of expressions of interest (see application form attached) should be completed in English and sent before 26 June 2011to the contact e-mail address: applications@eap-csf.eu


TERRITORIAL DEVELOPMENT AND MULTILATERAL DECENTRALIZED COOPERATION. 3 days seminar of UNITER RES and TER Res in Foix, 25-27 May 2011

The International Universities of Responsible Territories, UNITER RES together with the Association of Responsible Territories, TerritoiresResponsables TER RES, are organizing in Foix, Toulouse (FR), 3 days seminars and workshops from the 25th to the 27th of May  on the topic of territorial development and multilateral decentralized cooperation.

 

ALDA supports this initiative with the intervention of its Director, Ms. Antonella Valmorbida.

TER RES supports the territorial approach of development, through an inclusive strategy, growth: the interdependence, coherence and effectiveness of the political, economic, cultural and social actors at international level.

UNITER_RES is a meeting of manifold places and people, It is part of a growing process. It focuses on one particular stage: Where do we stand ? Who does what and how ? What can be achieved? Innovations are manifold, from local currencies to democratic movements with the “organic”, the “ecological”, the responsible” and the “sustainable” at all levels. “The five fingers of a hand are not the same size, but they all belong to the same hand”. This unity within great diversity is both the core and the driving force of the territorial approach to development. A multi-layer, multi -actor governance. This is what UNITER_RES is for: to discover, explain, implement this notion.

Several speeches and workshops are foreseen based on the achievements of decentralized cooperation and the reasons for which this territorial approach of development should be promoted.

Antonella Valmorbida, Director of ALDA and Alfonso Aliberti, ALDA project manager in charge of the development of the LDAs partnership, will intervene in order to present the LDAs as aefficient tool for decentralized cooperation, as resource model as well as a mediator for the multi-actor partnerships favoring good governance at local and regional level. In addition, SasaMarinkov, Delegate of the LDA Central and South Serbia, will present the case of this latter LDA, the general methodology of the network of LDAs as well as its specific objectives and projects. Last but not least, IljaPetronijevic, project coordinator in Kraljevo, Serbia, will also talk about the importance of the plurality of actors and international partnerships for the capacity building and the reinforcement of best practices, mentioning in particular the example of territorial cooperation between Kraljevo and Trento. The sharing of best practices as well as technical and networking competences is fundamental for the dynamics of local and regional development.

The International Universities of Responsible Territories, UNITER RES together with the Association of Responsible Territories, TerritoiresResponsables TER RES, are organizing in Foix, Toulouse (FR), 3 days seminars and workshops from the 25th to the 27th of May  on the topic of territorial development and multilateral decentralized cooperation.

 

ALDA supports this initiative with the intervention of its Director, Ms. Antonella Valmorbida.

TER RES supports the territorial approach of development, through an inclusive strategy, growth: the interdependence, coherence and effectiveness of the political, economic, cultural and social actors at international level.

UNITER_RES is a meeting of manifold places and people, It is part of a growing process. It focuses on one particular stage: Where do we stand ? Who does what and how ? What can be achieved? Innovations are manifold, from local currencies to democratic movements with the “organic”, the “ecological”, the responsible” and the “sustainable” at all levels. “The five fingers of a hand are not the same size, but they all belong to the same hand”. This unity within great diversity is both the core and the driving force of the territorial approach to development. A multi-layer, multi -actor governance. This is what UNITER_RES is for: to discover, explain, implement this notion.

Several speeches and workshops are foreseen based on the achievements of decentralized cooperation and the reasons for which this territorial approach of development should be promoted.

Antonella Valmorbida, Director of ALDA and Alfonso Aliberti, ALDA project manager in charge of the development of the LDAs partnership, will intervene in order to present the LDAs as aefficient tool for decentralized cooperation, as resource model as well as a mediator for the multi-actor partnerships favoring good governance at local and regional level. In addition, SasaMarinkov, Delegate of the LDA Central and South Serbia, will present the case of this latter LDA, the general methodology of the network of LDAs as well as its specific objectives and projects. Last but not least, IljaPetronijevic, project coordinator in Kraljevo, Serbia, will also talk about the importance of the plurality of actors and international partnerships for the capacity building and the reinforcement of best practices, mentioning in particular the example of territorial cooperation between Kraljevo and Trento. The sharing of best practices as well as technical and networking competences is fundamental for the dynamics of local and regional development.


UNITED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN: A NEW STRATEGY BASED ON LOCAL GOVERNANCE AND CITIZENS' PARTICIPATION, PROMOTED BY THE REGION SICILY (IT)

In Palermo, and with the presence of more than 200 participants, Region Sicily confirmed its leadership of the process called UNITED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. The initiative was launched last year and it is now recalled to further promote the relationship in the Mediterranean area, from Morocco to Middle East, including, Spain, France, Greece, Italy and the whole Adriatic coast.

 

The project aims at valorizing the contacts and experience of cooperation between this large area and to give a special leadership to local authorities and civil society. “Indeed, only through engagement of local authorities in the process, peace and development will be able flourish in this part of the world”, confirmed M. Lombardo, President of the Region Sicily.

ALDA was present with its Director, Mrs Antonella Valmorbida, who took the floor in the panel dedicated to networks of local authorities and civil society, sitting next to CRMP and COPPEM. “The presence of ALDA in Sicily, active member of our association, is part of our strategy on the MED area where we are convinced our support in terms of local governance and citizens’ participation is of particular need and importance” stated Mrs Valmorbida.

ALDA engaged also many of its contacts and members in the process: in particular the city of Patras (Greece), the Association of Municipalities of Albania and the city of Kotor (in Montenegro).

The event was also dedicated to the delivery of the price AL Idrissi, for those who worked actively for peace and democracy in the MED area. A special recognition was awared to the former trade unionist and President of Poland, M Lech Walesa.

In Palermo, and with the presence of more than 200 participants, Region Sicily confirmed its leadership of the process called UNITED IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. The initiative was launched last year and it is now recalled to further promote the relationship in the Mediterranean area, from Morocco to Middle East, including, Spain, France, Greece, Italy and the whole Adriatic coast.

 

The project aims at valorizing the contacts and experience of cooperation between this large area and to give a special leadership to local authorities and civil society. “Indeed, only through engagement of local authorities in the process, peace and development will be able flourish in this part of the world”, confirmed M. Lombardo, President of the Region Sicily.

ALDA was present with its Director, Mrs Antonella Valmorbida, who took the floor in the panel dedicated to networks of local authorities and civil society, sitting next to CRMP and COPPEM. “The presence of ALDA in Sicily, active member of our association, is part of our strategy on the MED area where we are convinced our support in terms of local governance and citizens’ participation is of particular need and importance” stated Mrs Valmorbida.

ALDA engaged also many of its contacts and members in the process: in particular the city of Patras (Greece), the Association of Municipalities of Albania and the city of Kotor (in Montenegro).

The event was also dedicated to the delivery of the price AL Idrissi, for those who worked actively for peace and democracy in the MED area. A special recognition was awared to the former trade unionist and President of Poland, M Lech Walesa.


CESD INTERNATIONAL CIVIL SOCIETY FORUM HELD IN BAKU

Center for Economic and Social Development (CESD) with support of European Commission and Management Center of Cyprus, held International Civil Society Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 19th, 2011 with participation of representatives of civil society institutes, state agencies, international community, embassies, mass-media and academia.

 

Vugar Bayramov, chairman of CESD, opened International Forum and he mentioned that the main purpose of the event to analysis problems civil society institutes face now in Azerbaijan as well as to promote public-private dialogue.

Azay Guliyev, head of State NGO Council under President of Azerbaijan spoke about State Council’s activities and said that the government welcomes such initiatives. Antonella  Valmorbida, co-chairman of EaP Civil Society Forum, spoke about European approach to civil society development and democratic values. Ovidiu Naftanalia and Fuad Huseynov, representatives of the Delegation of European Union to Baku, addressed EC support civil society in Azerbaijan. Mr. Bulent Kanol, Director of The Management Centre of the Mediterranean, Cyprus presented their activities related to civil society development in Azerbaijan.

Different panels were organized with participation local and foreign experts after the opening ceremony.

Center for Economic and Social Development (CESD) with support of European Commission and Management Center of Cyprus, held International Civil Society Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan on May 19th, 2011 with participation of representatives of civil society institutes, state agencies, international community, embassies, mass-media and academia.

 

Vugar Bayramov, chairman of CESD, opened International Forum and he mentioned that the main purpose of the event to analysis problems civil society institutes face now in Azerbaijan as well as to promote public-private dialogue.

Azay Guliyev, head of State NGO Council under President of Azerbaijan spoke about State Council’s activities and said that the government welcomes such initiatives. Antonella  Valmorbida, co-chairman of EaP Civil Society Forum, spoke about European approach to civil society development and democratic values. Ovidiu Naftanalia and Fuad Huseynov, representatives of the Delegation of European Union to Baku, addressed EC support civil society in Azerbaijan. Mr. Bulent Kanol, Director of The Management Centre of the Mediterranean, Cyprus presented their activities related to civil society development in Azerbaijan.

Different panels were organized with participation local and foreign experts after the opening ceremony.


DAY OF THE CITY IN KUTAISI

On 2 May 2011 the host city of LDA Georgia, Kutaisi, celebrated its annual Day of the City. On this occasion ALDA was represented by the President, Per Vinther, accompanied by IosebKhakhaleishvili, Director of LDA Georgia. In his address to a well-attended ceremonial session the President commended the city administration for the excellent cooperation with ALDAsince 2004 in the context of establishing LDA Georgia – in spite of frequent changes of mayor.

He recalled the objective of the LDA of helping local government and civil society work jointly to provide a better and more just community for all its citizens. Also, he informed the audience of ALDA’s plans to use LDA Georgia, which has worked successfully for five years, as a stepping stone for establishing in the shorter term LDAs also in Armenia and Azerbaijan thereby creating an LDA network across the region similar to the one in South East Europe.

On 2 May 2011 the host city of LDA Georgia, Kutaisi, celebrated its annual Day of the City. On this occasion ALDA was represented by the President, Per Vinther, accompanied by IosebKhakhaleishvili, Director of LDA Georgia. In his address to a well-attended ceremonial session the President commended the city administration for the excellent cooperation with ALDAsince 2004 in the context of establishing LDA Georgia – in spite of frequent changes of mayor.

He recalled the objective of the LDA of helping local government and civil society work jointly to provide a better and more just community for all its citizens. Also, he informed the audience of ALDA’s plans to use LDA Georgia, which has worked successfully for five years, as a stepping stone for establishing in the shorter term LDAs also in Armenia and Azerbaijan thereby creating an LDA network across the region similar to the one in South East Europe.


THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY WITHOUT LOCAL DEMOCRACY ALDA WORKSHOP IN BAKU, AZERBAIJAN, MAY 17

“There is no democracy without local democracy”. It is what said Ambassador Constantin Yerocostopoulos, Head of the Council of Europe office in Azerbaijan, opening the workshop held by ALDA in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 17, on the development of local government and good governance at the local level.

This is the reason for which NGOs in Azerbaijan calls on the Congress of Council of Europe for moral support in their struggle and efforts to push for reforms towards a system of real local self-government in Azerbaijan.

At the workshop participants discussed the experience of local government reform in Bulgaria and compared it with the situation in Azerbaijan.

The Ambassador Constantin Yerocostopoulos spoke about the Council of Europe and the Congress’ initiatives in Azerbaijan and also mentioned the Congress’ recent observation report for Azerbaijan’s local elections that took place in December 2009. The report concluded that despite some technical improvements the elections were lacking the essence of real political competition and democracy.

Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Director told about ALDA’s work in South Caucasus and plans to open a Local Democracy Agency in Azerbaijan in the future. Mrs. Ginka Tchavdarova, Executive Director of the National association of municipalities in Bulgaria spoke about the experience and challenges Bulgaria has faced to develop local self-government and promote citizen participation at the local level.

Mr. Abil Bayramov from the NGO Alliance for Municipality Development spoke about citizen participation in Azerbaijan and the difficulties to talk about any form of real citizen participation, when the elected local government practically doesn’t have any power or money to work with. However, it was stressed that there is a huge potential in the population for more citizen participation and that any activity that allows for even superficial citizen participation is still useful and is giving an important example.

There were very active discussions throughout the workshop, especially on the question of how to overcome the situation that exists today with very limited powers to the municipalities and which role the Congress of the Council of Europe could play in supporting the NGOs’ efforts to push for reform of this system. The participants expressed hope that the monitoring report for Azerbaijan that the Congress expects to conduct in 2012 will bring focus on the fact that Azerbaijan hardly has reformed or strengthened its local self -government system since ratifying the Charter of Local self government in 2002.

One participant even stated that in fact the municipalities in the Soviet system had more powers than municipalities have in the current system in Azerbaijan. This might be an exaggeration but the fact is that local self-government practically doesn’t exist in Azerbaijan.

After a municipal reform in 2009 there are now 1718 municipalities in Azerbaijan. However, these municipalities have very limited authority and almost no money to work with.

The “Executive Committees” that are appointed directly by the president of Azerbaijan have the real power at the local level and the municipalities depend completely on these Executive Committees. The Executive Committees have much broader responsibilities than the municipalities and some of their responsibilities overlap those of the municipalities, which creates confusion – and leaves the municipalities with an unclear mandate.

The city councils are directly elected, but without any real authority these elections have limited meaning. The budget of the municipalities is around 4 Euro per citizen per year putting strong constraints on the possibilities for the municipalities to do anything.

The municipalities’ actual responsibility is limited to maintaining municipal roads, providing social support to low income groups who are not included in the state’s social programs, maintaining cemeteries and organising mourning ceremonies. Most municipalities still don’t have administrative buildings.

There aren’t any indications that the government in Azerbaijan is intending to reform this system substantially in the coming period. The Associations of Local Authorities in Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Justice, responsible for the municipalities, were invited to the seminar but didn’t participate.

The seminar was a reminder for ALDA of the extreme limits to local self-government in Azerbaijan and how far Azerbaijan is from meeting its commitments to the Charter of Local self-government. At the same time the seminar once again showed that there are very competent organisations and persons in Azerbaijan who are committed to the development of local self-government and needs the support of ALDA, the Congress and other international partners to achieve their goals.

The workshop is part of an ALDA project on support to Local Democracy in South Caucasus funded by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. It served as a follow up to the conference on cooperation for Local Government development in South Caucasus that took place in Kutaisi in November 2010. In April a similar workshop took place in Georgia and in July a workshop will take place in Armenia. The workshop was also partly funded by the and the Principality of Liechtenstein and its project to support the setting up of an LDA in Azerbaijan.

Download the NGO Alliance For Municipality development’s most recent report on the Current  situation of Local Self-Governance In Azerbaijan here

Link to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities’ observation report for Azerbaijan’s local elections in 2009:

“There is no democracy without local democracy”. It is what said Ambassador Constantin Yerocostopoulos, Head of the Council of Europe office in Azerbaijan, opening the workshop held by ALDA in Baku, Azerbaijan, on May 17, on the development of local government and good governance at the local level.

This is the reason for which NGOs in Azerbaijan calls on the Congress of Council of Europe for moral support in their struggle and efforts to push for reforms towards a system of real local self-government in Azerbaijan.

At the workshop participants discussed the experience of local government reform in Bulgaria and compared it with the situation in Azerbaijan.

The Ambassador Constantin Yerocostopoulos spoke about the Council of Europe and the Congress’ initiatives in Azerbaijan and also mentioned the Congress’ recent observation report for Azerbaijan’s local elections that took place in December 2009. The report concluded that despite some technical improvements the elections were lacking the essence of real political competition and democracy.

Mrs. Antonella Valmorbida, ALDA Director told about ALDA’s work in South Caucasus and plans to open a Local Democracy Agency in Azerbaijan in the future. Mrs. Ginka Tchavdarova, Executive Director of the National association of municipalities in Bulgaria spoke about the experience and challenges Bulgaria has faced to develop local self-government and promote citizen participation at the local level.

Mr. Abil Bayramov from the NGO Alliance for Municipality Development spoke about citizen participation in Azerbaijan and the difficulties to talk about any form of real citizen participation, when the elected local government practically doesn’t have any power or money to work with. However, it was stressed that there is a huge potential in the population for more citizen participation and that any activity that allows for even superficial citizen participation is still useful and is giving an important example.

There were very active discussions throughout the workshop, especially on the question of how to overcome the situation that exists today with very limited powers to the municipalities and which role the Congress of the Council of Europe could play in supporting the NGOs’ efforts to push for reform of this system. The participants expressed hope that the monitoring report for Azerbaijan that the Congress expects to conduct in 2012 will bring focus on the fact that Azerbaijan hardly has reformed or strengthened its local self -government system since ratifying the Charter of Local self government in 2002.

One participant even stated that in fact the municipalities in the Soviet system had more powers than municipalities have in the current system in Azerbaijan. This might be an exaggeration but the fact is that local self-government practically doesn’t exist in Azerbaijan.

After a municipal reform in 2009 there are now 1718 municipalities in Azerbaijan. However, these municipalities have very limited authority and almost no money to work with.

The “Executive Committees” that are appointed directly by the president of Azerbaijan have the real power at the local level and the municipalities depend completely on these Executive Committees. The Executive Committees have much broader responsibilities than the municipalities and some of their responsibilities overlap those of the municipalities, which creates confusion – and leaves the municipalities with an unclear mandate.

The city councils are directly elected, but without any real authority these elections have limited meaning. The budget of the municipalities is around 4 Euro per citizen per year putting strong constraints on the possibilities for the municipalities to do anything.

The municipalities’ actual responsibility is limited to maintaining municipal roads, providing social support to low income groups who are not included in the state’s social programs, maintaining cemeteries and organising mourning ceremonies. Most municipalities still don’t have administrative buildings.

There aren’t any indications that the government in Azerbaijan is intending to reform this system substantially in the coming period. The Associations of Local Authorities in Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Justice, responsible for the municipalities, were invited to the seminar but didn’t participate.

The seminar was a reminder for ALDA of the extreme limits to local self-government in Azerbaijan and how far Azerbaijan is from meeting its commitments to the Charter of Local self-government. At the same time the seminar once again showed that there are very competent organisations and persons in Azerbaijan who are committed to the development of local self-government and needs the support of ALDA, the Congress and other international partners to achieve their goals.

The workshop is part of an ALDA project on support to Local Democracy in South Caucasus funded by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. It served as a follow up to the conference on cooperation for Local Government development in South Caucasus that took place in Kutaisi in November 2010. In April a similar workshop took place in Georgia and in July a workshop will take place in Armenia. The workshop was also partly funded by the and the Principality of Liechtenstein and its project to support the setting up of an LDA in Azerbaijan.

Download the NGO Alliance For Municipality development’s most recent report on the Current  situation of Local Self-Governance In Azerbaijan here

Link to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities’ observation report for Azerbaijan’s local elections in 2009: