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Ivana Velkova

International Conference Recap: Fostering Local Governance for a Wider European Community

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International Conference Recap: Fostering Local Governance for a Wider European Community

The recent International Conference “A Wider European Community: The Importance of Local Governance, A roadmap for the Western Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine on the road for EU accession” was held in Skopje, North Macedonia, on October 19 and 20, 2023. 

The conference was organised by the European Association for Local Democracy – ALDA in partnership with the Macedonian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It was financially supported by the Central European Initiative, the Council of Europe, and its Center of Expertise for Local Government Reform, and the EU.

The two-day event gathered over sixty participants, including government officials, representatives from international and local organisations, diplomats, professors, and experts. They exchanged their views on the challenges and opportunities linked to EU integration in the regions in focus.

The conference highlighted the significance of local governance, public involvement, and collaboration in the EU integration process, as key factors in building inclusive, progressive, and peaceful societies. 

The participants highlighted the need for effective collaboration and shared initiatives among Western Balkan countries, Moldova and Ukraine to address common challenges and encourage good neighbourly relations, and stressed the importance of regional cooperation in challenging times. 

The collaboration between local authorities and civil society organisations was emphasised, suggesting that this partnership, grounded in a shared vision, can bring meaningful changes starting at the local level.

The event concluded with a celebration of 30 years of Local Democracy Agencies in the Western Balkans. The LDAs’ positive impact on stability, development, and democratic governance was showcased, emphasising the success story arising from conflict aftermath towards European integration.

The conference participants affirmed their commitment to the objectives discussed during the event. Their vision imagines a future where strong local governance contributes to a more inclusive and united European community, with the Western Balkans, Moldova, and Ukraine progressing towards EU membership.

The conference promoted cooperation, transparency, and inclusive decision-making for regional growth and successful EU enlargement. As local efforts merge into national and international actions, the empowerment of local democracy remains pivotal in building a brighter European future.

Read the full report attached.

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