Project “Strengthening Local and Regional Government Structures and
      Co-operation of Local Elected Representatives in Albania - Phase 2”

      Launching Event

      Tirana, 27 February 2013

      Speech by Helen Eadie, Member of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities

      It is with a great honour for me to address today, on behalf of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Council of Europe, the launching event of the project “Strengthening Local Government Structures and Cooperation of Local Elected Representatives in Albania – Phase II”.

      First of all, let me warmly thank the Ambassador of Switzerland for the long-standing support given to the Council of Europe intervention in Albania, and in particular to the Congress initiative aimed at nurturing a process to build a common platform of dialogue for local and regional authorities in this country.

      I would also like to greet Mr Ferdinand Poni with whom the Congress has worked closely for many years now to consolidate the democratic process in Albania. We are very pleased with the priority given to local and regional democracy during the recent Albanian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers. Many of the events organised for the promotion of democratic governance at the grassroots were of direct relevance to the Congress and contributed to the success of this chairmanship.

      I also welcome the presence today of many of the mayors, heads of communes, presidents of regions we have been working with since last local elections. Together, you have shown a strong commitment to the aims of the project and to working on issues of common concern despite sometimes legitimate difference of opinion. We are very much looking forward to continue our close and fruitful co-operation.

      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      The Congress is very happy to contribute to the implementation of the priorities of co-operation between the Council of Europe and Albania.

      As you may know, the Congress as a political body of the Council of Europe proposes, on the basis of its monitoring recommendations and following observation of elections, two main types of intervention:

      - firstly an immediate assistance through institutional co-operation to help establish an adequate legal framework for local and regional democracy to take root

      - and secondly, initiatives on democratic governance and
      co-operation with newly elected local representatives drawing from the know-how and political experience of the Congress elected members and based on the peer-to-peer principle.

      Phase II of the Council of Europe project builds on two lines of action which are established on the idea that effective decentralisation and good local governance include two complementary features which go hand in hand:

      - an administration which is effective and opened to co-operation;

      - local and regional elected representatives who can make the best use of this administration for the benefit and well-being of the citizens, and who are able to establish a constant and constructive political dialogue with all stakeholders of the democratic process,

      I mean government, parliament, other local and regional authorities and citizens.

      The Congress with the implementation of its line of action wishes to help local and regional authorities of Albania to increase their
      co-operation and dialogue with a multi-partisan view and pluralistic approach.

      We attach the greatest importance to the strengthening of the leadership capacities of local and regional elected representatives, in order to allow them to fully play their part in the overall decision-making processes.

      We also believe in strong pluralistic national associations of local and regional authorities to accompany the decentralisation process and the consultation of local and regional authorities.

      With this project, we hope to contribute to further developing local political governance as a tangible part of overall democracy. For this, we will work to empowering local and regional elected representatives, to enhancing their role, capacity and co-operation.

      We have already taken concrete steps with this view as well as to help improve the horizontal and the vertical dialogue and enhance citizen participation.

      Our activities are based on the European standards and the relevant mechanisms and instruments for improving local and regional democracy – such as the European Charter of Local Self-Government and its Additional Protocol on democratic participation, the Reference Framework for Regional Democracy, the Code of conduct for the political integrity of local and regional elected representatives to name just a few.

      We look forward to implementing our activities within this project, with effective partnership with all levels of governance so as to ensure success and sustainability of their co-operation.

      We are strongly committed to further consolidating the foundation of the overall democratic development in this country and to help building trust and confidence by the citizens in the democratic institutions of Albania.

      Indeed, we believe that this is the way forward to the European integration of Albania and we will use all opportunities to join forces with the international community working in the field of local and regional democracy.

      Thank you.



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