15th Congress plenary session – 27-29 May 2008
Antun Palaric: “In Croatia, national minorities are represented in all local and regional self-government bodies”
[28/05/2008] The Congress held an exchange of views with Antun Palaric, State Secretary in the Central Office for Administration of Croatia, on this country’s implementation of Congress recommendations following the monitoring report in October 2007. “Croatia has now ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government in full and continues to advance in three directions: strengthening of self-government functions, development of the election system at local level, and training for local civil servants,” he said.
The most recent development was the adoption, after October 2007, of the Act on Direct Elections of Municipal Prefects, Mayors and County Prefects, which introduced a system of direct elections aimed at restoring citizens’ trust in politics and encouraging their active participation in resolving local and regional issues.
Further decentralisation was also achieved with the transfer of powers to issue all building-related permits to the local level, State Secretary Palaric said. The Act on the Right of Access to Information, which also relates to the system of local self-government, was enforced, as was the Act on the Prevention of Conflicts of Interest in the Exercise of Public Office, involving also local representatives.
A specific Croatian characteristic related to local self-government, however, was the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities and the accompanying Act on the Election of Members of Representative Bodies of Local and Regional Self-Government Units, which ensured the representation of national minorities in all local and regional self-government bodies.
Other developments included the establishment of the Decentralisation Commission and of the Ministry of Regional Development, which would play an important role in strengthening the role of counties, as well as the elaboration of the National Strategy for Functional and Fiscal Decentralisation and the Training Strategy for Local Self-Government. Local and regional authorities are regularly consulted in the process of drafting legislation, in particular through more than 34,000 associations of local and regional authorities active in Croatia, State Secretary Palaric said.