President Pendarovski participated in a civic forum in Novo Selo within the program “Empowering Municipal Councils”
April 10, 2023
The residents of the municipality of Novo Selo in the presence of the President of the State, Stevo Pendarovski, debated and decided which projects are of a greater priority and should be implemented in their local community. Pendarovski, together with the Swiss Ambassador Veronique Hulmann and UNDP Resident Representative Armen Grigoryan, attended the third session of the Community Forums, which is being implemented as part of the "Empowering Municipal Councils" programme. President Pendarovski expressed his support for the project and pointed out that the direct participation of citizens in the decision-making processes in the municipalities and the policies that directly affect them contribute to strengthening local democracy.
“The participation of citizens in the decision-making processes in their municipalities is key to the development of democracy at the local level and represents the best way to channel the needs and desires of citizens. Or as they say, nothing for the citizens, without the citizens. There is no real progress, without local progress. Without the participation of citizens, first in their communities, and then in the wider social processes, we cannot talk about democracy and a developed civic state. If the processes do not start from the bottom to the top, from the basis towards the top, then it is clear that politicians cannot make any changes because they will not have the support of the citizens," said President Pendarovski, stressing the importance of having young people involved and participating in these processes.
Community forums have been implemented in the country for more than a decade now and were introduced as a concept within the Swiss support for the country. In the next few years, the citizens of a total of 40 local self-governments will have the opportunity to participate directly in such forums within the framework of the “Empowering Municipal Councils” program, funded by the Swiss Government and the Ministry of Local Self-Government, and co-financed and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in cooperation with national and local partners.
“When citizens are involved in the decision-making process, when they are informed about decisions related to budget allocation and preparation of projects, they can bring fresh perspectives, ideas, and solutions to the table and their trust and confidence in the decisions taken is increased. This leads to more effective governance and a greater sense of ownership over the policies and initiatives that are implemented", said Veronique Hulmann, Ambassador of Switzerland.
“Community forums are now held in the first group of the ten partner local self-governments and by mid-May citizens from these municipalities should identify, prepare and select the projects that are most essential for their local community. Later, in the coming months, the implementation on the ground will follow, supported by funds from the project “Empowering Municipal Councils” and the respective municipality. By 2027, this model will be implemented in another additional 30 municipalities," said Armen Grigoryan, UNDP Resident Representative.
The municipality of Novo Selo belongs to the first group of 10 partner municipalities, where the project started to be implemented last year.
"These forum sessions are a direction for better and more transparent governance with the municipal administration, by introducing mechanisms according to the western model of developed and economically stable countries. Through the Community Forums with the direct participation of citizens, we as a municipal administration get a realistic picture of what is the highest priority in our municipality, given the limited budget resources we have", emphasized Gjorgje Bozhinov, Mayor of the Municipality of Novo Selo.
Within the second phase of the project “Empowering Municipal Councils” there are activities implemented to encourage the development of municipalities and improve the quality of life of citizens in the local communities. In order to achieve these goals, we are working on improving the capacities of municipal councilors, direct involvement of citizens in the decision-making, improving legislation, digitalization of services, increased transparency and fighting corruption. One of the key principles of the project, in the implementation of all project activities, is to fully respect the principles of equitable gender representation and equal opportunities for all citizens.
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