From 26-28 September 2012, NALAS delegation took part in the 25th General Assembly of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions, CEMR, hosted by the City of Cadiz, Andalusia, Spain.
During the event, entitled “Innovating in 3D: Decentralization-Democracy-Development”, over 700 General Assembly delegates from all around Europe and beyond discussed and debated on issues of relevance for the local government, such as: the state of decentralization in the world, exit strategies from crisis, improving public services, sustainable development, innovation for growth and much more. The General Assembly was opened by the Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias.
“Decentralization is a political process. It is a means but not an end. The end is to ensure a better quality of life for our citizens”, “The new elements of the Structural Funds will include: Integrated Territorial Investments, Community-Based Local Development and Urban Innovative Actions”, “Our current forms of governance are not suited to cope with changes such as climate change”, “The City of Stuttgart in Germany invested 8 million EUR in energy efficiency in public buildings and in five years it saved 12 million EUR”; “Crisis also bring opportunities, and innovation is one opportunity more”, “Thinking about innovations, local governments should make sure they have the 4C: competitive advantage, choices to make, critical mass and collaboration”-these were some of the statements made by panelists and delegates during the General Assembly of European Municipalities and Regions.
NALAS President, Dr. Ozgen Keskin gave a speech about the second NEXPO International Municipal Fair, that will be held in the Cities of Rijeka and Opatija, the Republic of Croatiia, 25-27 September 2013. “For my distinguished Mayor colleagues, NEXPO is a great opportunity to: present their Municipality, meet new people, learn new things, exchange experiences and best practices”, said Dr. Keskin. “Also, NEXPO might bring future benefits for your Municipality. You will be able to: present your Municipality potentials, competitive advantages, investment projects, meet potential investors, establish partnerships and get in touch with potential donors. Additionally, NEXPO opens its doors for the potential investors: businesses, banks, vendors of municipal services”.
NALAS had its stand during the General Assembly of European Municipalities and Regions, where it presented NEXPO 2013 and NALAS work in general.
During its stay in Cadiz, NALAS delegation met a delegation of Ukraine Associations of Local Government, supported by the Council of Europe, who already expressed interest to become NALAS associate members and attend NEXPO 2013. NALAS President stated that NALAS is determined to share experiences with other developing regions outside the borders of South-East Europe.
Also, NALAS met the Mayor of Athens, Dr. Yiorgos Kaminis and reconfirmed NALAS interest to reactivate the membership of the Greek Association of Local Authorities, which was also one of founding members of NALAS. Dr. Kaminis learned more about NALAS and committed to follow-up on this issue. “In the times of crisis, that Greece faces today, instead of closing inside, we should open to the world, now, more than ever”, said Dr. Kaminis.
On 25 September, NALAS held its Board meeting. NALAS Liaison Officers discussed and made decisions on issues important for the future work and sustainability of the Network, such as: NALAS strategy 2013-2017, new membership fees, expanding NALAS membership, NEXPO 2013, upcoming Conference on Fiscal Decentralization and more. It is certain that NALAS has became a strong and influential network, that makes visible changes in the Region. The new strategy and the increased financial independence will provide for this impact to continue growing in future, for the benefit of the citizens of the region of South-East Europe and beyond.