Latest News (Site updated Friday, March 7, 2014 | 19:00)
Declaration by Congress President on proposed Crimean Referendum
[07/03/2014 18:30:00] Reacting to the announcement of a referendum in the Crimea on 16 March on whether it should join the Russian Federation, Congress president Herwig Van Staa declared:
“I cannot but deplore this initiative. To hold a referendum, at such short notice, using closed questions, without consultation with the national authorities and in the unauthorized presence of military forces, in flagrant violation of international law, is a travesty of the democratic process and one that I condemn. It would be a serious step backwards for the democratic development of this region.
As President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Europe’s Pan-European Assembly of elected representatives of Europe’s towns and regions, I strongly support the development of greater regional autonomy in our member states. Moreover, in its 2013 Recommendation to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, on Regions and territories with special status in Europe, the Congress urges member states to make greater use of the special status model to address the specific needs of regions with special historical and cultural characteristics, of which the Crimea is a striking example.
I would like to point out that the Crimea already enjoys a special status of autonomy within Ukraine. If the people of Crimea wish to further deepen and extend that autonomy, the legal framework exists, within the Republic of Ukraine to revise those constitutional provisions. The Congress would be ready to assist and advise on any such developments.”
Congress President meets with President of CALRE
[07/03/2014 17:30:00] Congress President Herwig van Staa (Austria, PPE/CCE) and Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress met with Pilar Rojo Noguera and Xosé Sarmiento Méndez respectively President and Secretary General of the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE) in Athens on 7 March 2014? In the context of the cooperation agreement between the two institutions, they discussed common priorities, notably “digital inclusion” and citizen participation at regional level. They specifically focused on the use of new technologies to facilitate the involvement of citizens in the work of regional Parliaments and how these parliaments respond to popular initiatives.
Herwig Van Staa invited regions with legislative powers to make full use of the opportunities offered by the Congress to exchange good practices beyond the borders of the European Union.
Congress delegation heading to Portugal for a post-monitoring visit
[03/03/2014 15:30:00] The Congress carried out a post-monitoring visit to Portugal on 4 March 2014. Congress Rapporteur Jos Wienen (The Netherlands, EPP/CCE) examined the follow-up to the Recommendation 323 (2012) on local and regional democracy in this country. The aim of Congress post-monitoring activity is to develop a political dialogue and agree on a roadmap for the implementation of its recommendations. A first post-monitoring visit was carried out on 6 September 2013.
Meetings were scheduled with the Portuguese Secretary of State for Local Administration, Antonio Leitäo Amaro, the Secretary of State for Budget, Hélder Reis, as well as with representatives of the National Association of Parishes (ANAFRE) and the National Association of Portuguese Municipalities (ANMP).
Photo: Jos Wienen (The Netherlands, EPP/CCE) and Portuguese Secretary of State for Local Administration, Antonio Leitäo Amaro Press release
Congress delegation meets the President of the Republic of Cyprus
[19/02/2014 11:30:00] On the occasion of the meeting of the Congress Monitoring Committee in Nicosia, Cyprus, a delegation led by the Monitoring Committee's Chair, Lars O. Molin (Sweden, EPP/CCE) met with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades. 'Our Congress is ready to offer its experience to aid the development of local democracy in Cyprus, in the context of the peace and reconciliation process which was relaunched on 11 February', said Lars O. Molin, presenting the items on the agenda of the Monitoring Committee meeting. The Cypriot President welcomed the support of the United Nations, the United States and Europe in favour of the peace process. He also reaffirmed his support for the government’s approach to decentralisation and for the strengthening of Cypriot municipalities, developed in co-operation with the Council of Europe. The delegation was composed of Jean-Claude Frécon, President of the Congress Chamber of Local Authorities (France, SOC), Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress, Irene louizidou (EPP/CCE, Cyprus) member of the Congress and Alexis Galanos Chair of the association of Cyprus municipalities.
The Congress Monitoring Committee meets in Nicosia
[19/02/2014 10:00:00] The members of the Monitoring Committee of the Congress met in Nicosia (Cyprus) on 19 February 2014. Among other matters they examined the state of local and regional democracy in Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Armenia and recent developments in Portugal, the Republic of Moldova and Finland.
The committee held specific discussions on the post-monitoring process in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the current situation in Ukraine. The trend in the state of local democracy in Georgia was addressed in the presence of Tengiz Shergelashvili, Georgia's First Deputy Minister for Regional Development and Infrastructure.
In the context of the committee meeting, a delegation from the Congress, led by the Monitoring Committee's Chair, Lars O. Molin (Sweden, EPP/CCE) and composed in particular of Jean-Claude Frécon, President of the Congress Chamber of Local Authorities (France, SOC) and Andreas Kiefer, Secretary General of the Congress, also had a meeting with the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and Interior Minister, Socratis Hasikos.