On October 15th 2021, the city of Edremit hosted the opening ceremony of the newly established Local Democracy Agency (LDA). Bartek Ostrowski – Vice President of ALDA; Antonella Valmorbida – ALDA Secretary General; and Giulia Sostero – ALDA Middle East and Africa (MEA) Coordinator, arrived in the Turkish city for the opening ceremony and official beginning, as well as the signature of the “Memorandum of Understanding” among the following founding partners:
- Edremit Municipality and Edremit City Council (Turkey);
- ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy;
- Budva Municipality (Montenegro);
- Lushnjë Municipality (Albania) ;
- Ahmetbey Municipality (Turkey)
- CSOs representatives.
Participants, gathering both online and offline, were eager to be present in such an historical moment for the development of democracy. Hence, LDAs embody a positive and effective experiment of supporting democracy, by engaging local governments and civil society organizations in Europe and beyond. Thus, as recalled by the Mayor Selman Hasan Arslan “the opening of the LDA in Edremit is the demonstration that what we are doing in the framework of local democracy and citizens’ participation is right and we are following the right path”.
The activity of ALDA in the MEA region is solid and fruitful, as also testified by the two projects now implemented in Turkey: DEVOTE project and TEAM 4TEAM, tackling migrants’ inclusion and reinforcement of civil society respectively. From a broader perspective, benefitting from citizens’ involvement; capacity building and multi-stake approach, ALDA together with local partners and LDAs is playing a strategic role in the development of local democracy.
LDA Edremit “is a sign of hope in dark times”
Precisely, more than 1 million people benefited from the projects’ implementation in the whole MEA region. Yet, this is not possible without common efforts. Thus, as stressed by Bartek Ostrowski, the relation has to be based on reciprocity, and dialogue, being a “two-way road for mutual benefit”. Based on values, such as common good and good governance the Association is very much committed to have a concrete and tangible impact in local communities; and it is therefore, very much glad for this new achievement.
The opening LDA Edremit “is a sign of hope in dark times” – said Antonella Valmorbida – stressing the essential role of the agency as “an instrument of peace, social cohesion” reinforcing the dialogue among CSOs and local authorities, as well as among partners, citizens and the whole community. More on a broad perspective, LDAs serve, in fact, as a bridge among countries and the European Union, based on a programme set up more than 20 years ago by the Council of Europe.
Specifically on the LDA Edremit, thanks to a participative approach in the decision making process and multilateral decentralised cooperation, it will work on information exchange and empowerment of other CSOs; citizens’ participation and involvement. Furthermore, as illustrated by Giulia Sostero, it will design its actions and activities in tackling several topics and issues, such as:
- Cultural heritage and tourism;
- Relationship between local authorities and citizens stressing the importance of accountability;
Overall, the opening of this 16th LDA in Edremit paves the way to new horizons, and further steps in the development of democracy. The ceremony ended with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, and it coincided with the reception by Edremit of the Plaque of Honour, awarded by the Parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.
ALDA is very much glad to have promoted such a great achievement, and thank the Municipality of Edremit for its courage and spirit of initiative, as well as all other partners that believe in this new adventure: the journey has just started!
Watch the opening ceremony online at this link
[Picture from Edremit Municipality and ALDA colleagues]