After Slovenia, Croatia will  join the EU in the next year, having achieved the requirements for access. In particular, those related to democracy and decentralization, real pillars, in addition to economic aspects, in belonging to the great European family.
This result comes after a path that started twenty years ago, following the conflict in former Yugoslavia.
ALDA was one of the actors of this path, with the support of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, and with its network, made by the eleven Local Democracy Agencies active in the Balkan countries, and hundreds of partners, particularly local authorities, NGOs and civil society.

A special role in these years has been played by the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia, that hosted (June 7 and 8) in Udine, besides the annual general meeting 2012 of ALDA, also the international conference on “Strengthening the role of citizens and local governance in the neighbouring countries”, whose objective was to evaluate whether the experiences gained with success in South East Europe can be used and replicated in other countries which now live a transition to democratic regimes.
ALDA is already doing it in the South Caucasus, where two Agencies are now active in Georgia (Kutaisi) and Armenia (Gyumri ) and is working for the opening of a new Agency in Azerbaijan.
The need for Europe is to complete the path in the Balkans, a region that needs the political and economic stability that would result from further enlargement, but also to  give practical support to the “Arab spring”, the revolution that in the last year has reversed in some countries, and is still trying to do so in others, authoritarian regimes and dictatorships to give birth to new democracies.
“In moments of crisis should be promoted even more strongly the processes of participatory democracy, strengthening information networks, exchange of knowledge and opportunities, especially for young people and social groups that need it most: it is why I think that the commitment of ALDA is important and especially of the volunteers in all our communities in supporting the  growth of people in disadvantage situation” said the President of Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, Renzo Tondo,  opening of the General Assembly of ALDA.
“The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe has started with Morocco and Tunisia, at the request of these countries, some projects that aim to enhance the role of active citizenship and civil society,” said Keith Whitmore, President of the Congress. “The civil society plays a crucial role, not least as a source of a new political class which is being formed in those countries, and its involvement in democracy-building is certainly a sign of greater democratic maturity of the society”, said also Mr. Whitmore.
“Europe cannot have a black hole inside her where human rights and minority rights are not respected, and therefore the path of democratization completed successfully in Croatia has to be completed also in the other countries of South Eastern Europe, from Bosnia to Serbia, from Albania to Montenegro, “said Ivan Jakovcic, President of the Istria region, that considers that the Croatian experience, although not being a model, is important and can show a way and proves that a country cannot be called democratic if there is no democracy at local level.
During the conference many experiences have been illustrated, from those of the Committee of Regions and of NGOs operating both in countries of South East Europe and Med Region, which show a strong need for support to civil society and local authorities , whose role is crucial to the democratisation of the neighboring countries.
In particular, Monsef Ben Slimane, President of Lam Echaml network (which in Tunisian means stay together in Tunisia), which illustrates the path started in his country for the training of citizens to the exercise of voting rights, has launched a strong appeal to Europe, to give support to many organizations of civil society that in some Arab countries, as Egypt, Libya and Jordan, are struggling fighting to assert democratic values, addressing the resistance of the old regimes, but also in those countries such as Morocco and Tunisia where the democratic process has already started but needs to be strengthened.
The transition to democracy, said Ben Slimane using a metaphor, cannot be done with a “copy paste”, but needs new applications that well match with the different local realities.
Avi Rabinovitch, an expert on local development in the Med Region, has told the difficulties of developing cooperation between local authorities and civil society in the Middle East, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, where there are many funds available that often are not used owing to these difficulties.
“The intervention of third parties would be useful to facilitate the dialogue”, said Mr. Rabinovitch.
Azay Guliyev, Member of the Azerbaijan’s Parliament and Chairman of the Council for State Support to NGOs in his country, said that since 2008 11 million of US dollars have been allocated by the Government  to finance projects of NGOs that are more than 3,600, with half a million volunteers and nearly two million beneficiaries. A tissue for which to share experiences and best practices  with NGOs of other countries could be of great interest.
Antonella Valmorbida, Director of ALDA, closing the conference has anticipated the contents of a final document that expresses the recommendations of the conference, indicating the need to continue the work in the neighboring countries to create a stable democracy and respect for rights human, as an indispensable instrument for their stabilisation and as an element of peace and prosperity for the whole Europe.

After Slovenia, Croatia will  join the EU in the next year, having achieved the requirements for access. In particular, those related to democracy and decentralization, real pillars, in addition to economic aspects, in belonging to the great European family.
This result comes after a path that started twenty years ago, following the conflict in former Yugoslavia.
ALDA was one of the actors of this path, with the support of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, and with its network, made by the eleven Local Democracy Agencies active in the Balkan countries, and hundreds of partners, particularly local authorities, NGOs and civil society.

A special role in these years has been played by the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia, that hosted (June 7 and 8) in Udine, besides the annual general meeting 2012 of ALDA, also the international conference on “Strengthening the role of citizens and local governance in the neighbouring countries”, whose objective was to evaluate whether the experiences gained with success in South East Europe can be used and replicated in other countries which now live a transition to democratic regimes.
ALDA is already doing it in the South Caucasus, where two Agencies are now active in Georgia (Kutaisi) and Armenia (Gyumri ) and is working for the opening of a new Agency in Azerbaijan.
The need for Europe is to complete the path in the Balkans, a region that needs the political and economic stability that would result from further enlargement, but also to  give practical support to the “Arab spring”, the revolution that in the last year has reversed in some countries, and is still trying to do so in others, authoritarian regimes and dictatorships to give birth to new democracies.
“In moments of crisis should be promoted even more strongly the processes of participatory democracy, strengthening information networks, exchange of knowledge and opportunities, especially for young people and social groups that need it most: it is why I think that the commitment of ALDA is important and especially of the volunteers in all our communities in supporting the  growth of people in disadvantage situation” said the President of Friuli Venezia Giulia Region, Renzo Tondo,  opening of the General Assembly of ALDA.
“The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe has started with Morocco and Tunisia, at the request of these countries, some projects that aim to enhance the role of active citizenship and civil society,” said Keith Whitmore, President of the Congress. “The civil society plays a crucial role, not least as a source of a new political class which is being formed in those countries, and its involvement in democracy-building is certainly a sign of greater democratic maturity of the society”, said also Mr. Whitmore.
“Europe cannot have a black hole inside her where human rights and minority rights are not respected, and therefore the path of democratization completed successfully in Croatia has to be completed also in the other countries of South Eastern Europe, from Bosnia to Serbia, from Albania to Montenegro, “said Ivan Jakovcic, President of the Istria region, that considers that the Croatian experience, although not being a model, is important and can show a way and proves that a country cannot be called democratic if there is no democracy at local level.
During the conference many experiences have been illustrated, from those of the Committee of Regions and of NGOs operating both in countries of South East Europe and Med Region, which show a strong need for support to civil society and local authorities , whose role is crucial to the democratisation of the neighboring countries.
In particular, Monsef Ben Slimane, President of Lam Echaml network (which in Tunisian means stay together in Tunisia), which illustrates the path started in his country for the training of citizens to the exercise of voting rights, has launched a strong appeal to Europe, to give support to many organizations of civil society that in some Arab countries, as Egypt, Libya and Jordan, are struggling fighting to assert democratic values, addressing the resistance of the old regimes, but also in those countries such as Morocco and Tunisia where the democratic process has already started but needs to be strengthened.
The transition to democracy, said Ben Slimane using a metaphor, cannot be done with a “copy paste”, but needs new applications that well match with the different local realities.
Avi Rabinovitch, an expert on local development in the Med Region, has told the difficulties of developing cooperation between local authorities and civil society in the Middle East, particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, where there are many funds available that often are not used owing to these difficulties.
“The intervention of third parties would be useful to facilitate the dialogue”, said Mr. Rabinovitch.
Azay Guliyev, Member of the Azerbaijan’s Parliament and Chairman of the Council for State Support to NGOs in his country, said that since 2008 11 million of US dollars have been allocated by the Government  to finance projects of NGOs that are more than 3,600, with half a million volunteers and nearly two million beneficiaries. A tissue for which to share experiences and best practices  with NGOs of other countries could be of great interest.
Antonella Valmorbida, Director of ALDA, closing the conference has anticipated the contents of a final document that expresses the recommendations of the conference, indicating the need to continue the work in the neighboring countries to create a stable democracy and respect for rights human, as an indispensable instrument for their stabilisation and as an element of peace and prosperity for the whole Europe.