Practicing Local Self-Government for People

13th through 14th October Regional Forum on Inter-Municipal Cooperation, entitled “Practicing Local Self-Government for People”, took place in Skopje, Macedonia. It brought together representatives of international organizations, governments of Balkan and Eastern European countries. 

Participants came to the Forum to share their experience on local self-government (LSG), estimate general tendencies, discuss the challenges and identify the ways of coping with them. LSG implementation was demonstrated by examples from different region’s countries, i.e. Macedonia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Albania, Slovenia and other.
It was mentioned that cooperation of municipalities is pretty common in Western European countries. In France the indicator of community involvement into different forms of horizontal cooperation is 90%, in Germany – 95%, in Italy – 70%. These developments did not go unnoticed in other European countries. Czech Republic reached 90%, Macedonia – 80%.
However, one should pay attention to qualitative cooperation indicators, like integration depth, strength of organizational and financial mechanisms.
Ukrainian experience in LSG was presented by Mr. Volodymyr Harazd, Dolyns’ky mayor and Mr. Eduard Rakhimkulov, expert of European Council project. They mentioned that Ukrainian experience in the sphere of LSG is limited. According to Ukrainian experts, currently we have about (only!) 25 inter-municipal projects. The reasons of such a weak cooperation among Ukrainian communities are different. These are: non-formulated policy re reforms in the sphere of local self-governance, imperfect legislation, limited mandates of local self-government and lack of financial resources. Simultaneously, imperfect capacities of local self-governing bodies, lack of innovative thinking and initiatives are other challenges. 
Besides learning the experience of countries, Forum’s members, its participants, in a group format, discussed the issues on LSG practicing while integrating into EU, spending EU funds as well as mechanisms, which promote LSG implementation and support.  
Ukrainian delegation also had an opportunity to visit one of Macedonian communities – Ilinden. The visit was organized by Embassy of Ukraine in the Republic of Macedonia. Mr. Zhyka Stoyanowski, Mayor of Ilinden warmly greeted the delegation.  
Thus, Forum proved that inter-municipal cooperation is an effective mechanism for pooling the resources to address common or complementary issues.