On 26 June 2013, the City of Opatija in Croatia welcomed over 60 mayors and representatives of businesses from Croatia and Slovenia. The Associations of Cities and Municipalities, the Cities of Rijeka and Opatija and NALAS hosted the conference “International Municipal Fair NEXPO 2013 in the context of Croatian access to the European Union”. The conference marked Croatia’s upcoming access to the EU and the challenges it brings, discussed the instruments of the EU on energy development of cities and presented NEXPO 2013 International Municipal Fair, its offer and the Matchmaking Platform of NEXPO 2013.

Mr. Vojko Obersnel, the Mayor of Rijeka and President of the Association of Cities in the Republic of Croatia welcomed the participants and said: “After the first NEXPO held in Sarajevo in 2011, it is a great honor to host such international event which will gather honorable European and local authorities and experts from the public and private sector. Considering the accumulated experience from the pre-accession process and the traditional openness and multicultural spirit of Rijeka, I believe that our city, together with Opatija, is the ideal place for hosting such international platforms for exchange of experiences with the cities and municipalities that still await the EU membership”.

“I would like to congratulate Croatia for its successful path in the EU integration process, being acknowledged with its upcoming membership as of next Monday”, said Mr. Ivan Zagar, President of the Slovenian Association and Mayor of Slovenska Bistrica, while Mr. Anton Pershak, President of NALAS and Mayor of Trzin added: “For us, as a country member of the EU, the current situation is not pink. But, I try to imagine how it would have been if we haven’t accessed the EU. I would say, much worse than it is now. Speaking about local governments, the EU accession is even more important. For the SEE countries, decentralization, fiscal independence and the relations with the central government are the biggest problems. The EU accession supports the process of decentralization, gives it a boost and guarantees the autonomy of the local government”, concluded Mr. Pershak.    

Mr. Kelmend Zajazi, Executive Director of NALAS congratulated the Croatian and Slovenian Local Government Associations on their initiative to collaborate, meet regularly and share experiences. “Your efforts are in line with the NALAS mission, to support development of the region, exchange of information, best practices and learning from each other”, said Mr. Zajazi.  In this direction, Mr. Zajazi announced that NALAS is involved in developing the SEE2020 Strategy, as a pillar coordinator of the governance for growth pillar of this Strategy, being currently developed under the coordination of the Regional Cooperation Council.      

Ms. Ana Pavicic-Kaselj, Expert from the Institute for Development and International Relations presented the instruments of EU in energy efficiency of cities. Emphasizing the key objectives related to climate change and energy, Ms. Kaselj highlighted that the SEE countries have a long way to go to reach the EU targets in decreasing the emissions of greenhouse gasses, increasing the share of energy from renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency measures.

Ms. Jelena Janevska, NALAS Knowledge and Communications Manager presented NEXPO 2013 International Municipal Fair, its offer and the Matchmaking Platform of NEXPO 2013, while Ms. Natasha Ilijeva-Acevska, NALAS Program Officer and Mr. Amir Kupusija from the Union of Municipalities and Cities in BiH presented the experiences of the first NEXPO, held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in March 2011.

“We have two months more to bring to NEXPO all municipalities, small and medium size entrepreneurs, development agencies and civil society organizations. NEXPO 2013 must be the most important SEE municipal event”, concluded Mr. Djuro Bukvic, President of the Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Croatia and Mayor of Lukac.

This event was organized as part of the project “Establishment of a Matchmaking Platform for local governments and the business sector”, supported by GIZ/ORF MMS. Such events were also organized in Moldova (20 June), Bulgaria (21 June) and Albania (28 June), gathering over 500 mayors, representatives of local governments and businesses. 


NEXPO 2013 International Municipal Fair will be organized from 25-27 September 2013, in Rijeka and Opatija, the Republic of Croatia. The topic of NEXPO 2013 is EU Integration. The Fair will also provide opportunities for local governments to meet representatives of the business sector and attract potential investors for their projects in energy efficiency and renewable energies. NEXPO 2013 is expected to bring together over 4000 participants in the Sport Centre Zamet in Rijeka, an exhibit space of 4000 m2. To learn more about NEXPO 2013, please check nexpo.nalas.eu.