The NALAS XIX General Assembly Statutory Session convened on April 18, 2024, in Bar, Montenegro, marking the 20th anniversary of NALAS and highlighting its enduring commitment to fostering effective local governance and sustainable development in South East Europe.

Distinguished figures including Mr. Bernd Vohringer, Congress Vice President; Mr. M. Ergun Turan, President of NALAS; and Mr . Marash Dukaj, Minister of Public Administration of Montenegro, delivered opening addresses, setting the tone for the assembly.

Mr. M. Ergun Turan, Mayor of Fatih, President of NALAS, 2023-2024
I believe that seeking solutions to the common challenges our cities face and sharing our best practices is key for reaching a better quality of life. With this aim, we came together last year at Marmara Urban Forum (MARUF) in Istanbul together with the “cities developing solutions” from all over the world to discuss “resilience and beyond”. We need such gathering places for urban thinkers and practitioners more than ever.

I would like to also highlight the ever-increasing role of local governments in the EU integration process. Our local governments and associations should be recognized as key strategic dialogue partners in our countries’ journey towards enlargement. As NALAS, we have continued our presence and advocacy at regional and European levels during my term as in previous years.
Mr . Marash Dukaj, Minister of Public Administration of Montenegro
I want to emphasize that the best and most effective way for quality and efficient decentralization, based on the responsibility and transparency of the work of local governments, lies in the solid cooperation of the central and local levels of government. Such an approach is fostered by the Ministry of Public Administration, and it especially appreciates the support of international partners, as well as the recommendations and guidelines of associations such as NALAS.
Vice President of Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, CoE, Mr. Bernd Vohringer  
Congress Vice-President Bernd Vöhringer addressed the Assembly and opened his statement by remembering that 2024 is a year of Anniversary, marking 20 years of Nalas, 75 years of the Council of Europe, 30 years of the Congress and 10 years of the “Rejuvenating Politics” initiative of the Congress. He stressed that “Reliable partners like NALAS are fundamental to address current challenges and the Congress is willing to further support local authorities and their associations, on the path to EU membership”.

A special ceremony commemorated two decades of NALAS’s impactful presence in the region, reflecting on past achievements and reaffirming the organization’s dedication to its mission.

Former NALAS President, Mr. Tarzan Milosevic, shared his insights on what NALAS means to him as special guest.

Inauguration of New NALAS Presidency:                

The inauguration of the new President and three Vice Presidents marked a transition in leadership, symbolizing continuity and fresh perspectives for NALAS’s future endeavors. Mr. Dusan Raicevic, Mayor of Bar, Montenegro, assumed the role of NALAS President for the term 2024-2025, embodying a commitment to advancing the organization’s mission.

Inauguration of Mr. Dusan Raicevic, Mayor of Bar, as the new NALAS President

I take this role of NALAS President convinced that the strength of the network comes from its members, which is all of us, the local government associations and your members the local government authorities. Each city, town and municipality in our region can benefit from NALAS’ knowledge, experience and expertise. During my presidency, I will be working on expending NALAS’ coverage, so that it includes the whole geographical South-East Europe.  

I commit myself to lead and support the implementation of the NALAS strategy which is our common frame of action. I believe NALAS today is perhaps stronger and more determined than ever to achieve its mission and objectives.

I am committed to support the creation of the Covenant of Mayors Office for South East Europe which is one of main thematic topics of our working sessions tomorrow which I invite you all to actively contribute to. So, we have a lot of work ahead of us, but I am sure we are very successful when we work together and join forces.

Endorsement of Covenant of Mayors

The Covenant of Mayors represents a voluntary initiative and network of local authorities that commit themselves to taking concrete actions to combat climate change and promote sustainable energy in order to strive for a better, more sustainable future for their citizens. After the European Commission created the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy – Europe as a first of its kind bottom-up approach to energy and climate action in 2008, it expanded by launching the Global Covenant of Mayors in 2015. The creation of a regional office for SEE, was endorsed at today’s General Assembly.

Delegates vote for the endorsement of the Political Commitment Document for CoM Energy and Climate SEE

This move signifies a growing commitment among local authorities in the region to address climate change and promote sustainable energy practices. By endorsing the Covenant of Mayors for Energy and Climate SEE Commitment, NALAS and its members are reaffirming their dedication to sustainable urban development and climate action, while also fostering collaboration among local authorities. This collective effort is crucial in the fight against climate change and in building a more resilient and sustainable future for communities in Southeast Europe.

During the meeting, delegates reviewed and approved the meeting procedures and agenda, ensuring a structured approach to the day’s discussions.

The assembly assessed and approved the reports from the previous year, including the 2023 General Assembly Meeting Report, the NALAS 2023 Narrative Report, and the 2023 Financial and Audit Reports, fostering transparency and accountability.

Furthermore, delegates deliberated on and approved the NALAS 2024 Workplan and Budget, outlining strategic priorities and resource allocation for the upcoming year.

The NALAS XIX General Assembly was a forum for meaningful dialogue, collaboration, and decision-making, as stakeholders from across the region came together to discuss the future of local governance and sustainable development in South East Europe.

This event was organized within the framework of the EU4 Energy Transition: Covenant of Mayors in the Western Balkans and Türkiye project.