On 11th November 2012 in the premises of Evangelic Theological Seminary in Osijek the Opening Conference of the project „Support for networking and twinning at European level“ was held. The project is being implemented within the IPA Cross Border Cooperation Programme Croatia – Serbia 2007-2013. It is financially supported by the European Union and will be implemented over the period of 18 months.
The aim of this project is to contribute to capacity building of municipalities and towns in the border region of Croatia and Serbia for more effective cooperation at both regional and European level and to contribute to fostering of active citizenship in local communities of Osijek-Baranja and Vukovar Syrmium counties in Croatia and Bač and Srem districts in Serbia.
The introductory speaches at the Opening conference were conducted by the Vice Prefect of Osijek – Baranja County, Jovan Jelić and the Rector of Evangelic Theological Seminary, Peter Kuzmič. After the introductory speaches expert presentations on the topic of local self-government in Croatia and Serbia were held by Tunjica Petrašević, docent at the Department for Constitutional Law and Political Science of the Law Faculty in Osijek, Croatia and by Slobodan Martinović from Centre for Policy research from Serbia.
“The goals of the corss border cooperation today are to link population along two or more borders in order to cooperate and solve their everyday problems, and which can not be solved within their own national borders. Emphasis is on the economic and social problems, but also on economic interests. But we should not forget that the first reason for inception of cross border cooperation was the establishment of peace and good neighborly relations between the warring parties. Given the fact that Croatia in 90-ies was dragged into a war with Serbia, it is necessary to specifically refer to the importance of cross-border cooperation as a contribution to peace and stability in the region, ” emphasized Tunjica Petrasevic.
On twinning strategies talked Zoltan Pamer, consultant for EU programmes of international and interregional cooperation, and Paula Raužan, president of the Local Democracy Agency Sisak.
Zoltan Pamer presented the community-led local development (CLLD), a specific tool that will be introduced to us in the next programming period of the EU (2014-2020), and which may mobilise and involve local communities and organisations to contribute to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and which may foster territorial cohesion and implementation of public Europen policies . „This tool is focused on sub-regional levels (towns and their surroundings) and it envisages also the cross border cooperation“, explained Pamer.
Paula Raužan presented modern concept of town twinning, its pre-requisites and active citizenship. She explained that the concept of active citizenship means to actively involve citizens into life of their community and therefore into democracy as well – especially into action and participation. However, she also explained that the concept is much more than giving into charity or for humanitarian purposes and much more than voting at elections or volunteering.
Project „Support for networking and twinning at European level –SNET.EU“ will be implemented in the towns of Osijek, Vukovar and Beli Manastir and in municipalities of Erdut Nijemci, Drenovci in Croatia and in the towns of Novi Sad and Subotica and municipalities of Apatin, Bac, Ruma, Stara Pazova, Beocin i Indija.
Main project activities are capacity building activities on European policies and EU integration process (conferences, seminars and training), establishing of the Resource centres in support of networking of local authorities in border regions of Croatia and Serbia (promotional workshops and exchange of good practice) and thematic workshops in municipalities and towns in border region.
By April 2013th the training on the twinning program in Novi Sad will be held, the Resource Centers in Subotica Osijek to support networking of local authorities in border regions of Croatia and Serbia will be opened and seminars on European policies will be held in Vukovar and Apatin.