Andreas Kiefer: “Mayors and councillors are the knots of the net of democracy”

co-operation Tbilisi, Georgia 6 December 2017
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Andreas Kiefer: “Mayors and councillors are the knots of the net of democracy”

Opening the conference on “Ethics and transparency at local level: strategies and tools”, in Tbilisi, on 6 December 2017, Congress Secretary General Andreas Kiefer underlined the key elements for a successful local self-government: an adequate legislative framework, mayors and elected representatives ready to serve citizen’s needs and strong national associations of local and regional authorities, in a structured dialogue and regular consultation with national governments.

“Two and a half years ago, in 2015, we gathered in Tbilisi to launch the thematic programme Strengthening institutional frameworks for local governance,” he stated. “In this programme we have worked with all stakeholders, undertaking activities at country-specific level, as well as in a multilateral format, of which this regional conference is an example”.

The Congress Secretary General highlighted, in particular, two actions implemented within the project : the local initiatives on transparency and citizen participation, developed by twelve local authorities from Armenia, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, and the Community of practice on local democracy, a platform for exchange and networking between representatives of national associations, experts and practitioners.

“Today’s conference aims to reflect on the results and the good practices that this programme led to,” explained Andreas Kiefer. He presented two practical publications which were disseminated to the participants: the Tool guide on management of change which presents six concepts to accompany the change, and, on the other hand, Handbooks on transparency and citizen participation, a set of country-specific documents which tackle such issues as corruption and accountability from a practical perspective.

Congress Secretary General stressed that Congress co-operation activities focused on the roles and responsibilities of local elected representatives who represent the “knots of a net of democracy and proximity to the citizens”. “If one or two knots of the net break there are still enough other knots to hold the net and withstand challenges,” he added.

“As the decentralisation of powers advances through on-going reforms in the region, success will only come if it is accompanied with a change in mind-set and by empowered stakeholders, including local authorities, their national associations and citizens,” stated Andreas Kiefer. “The Congress is striving to reach these objectives through our co-operation activities which are complementary to our statutory work - the monitoring of the implementation of the European Charter of local self-government,” he concluded.

The Tbilisi regional conference brought together around 100 mayors and local elected representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus, including numerous newly-elected Georgian mayors, as well as representatives of national associations of local authorities, civil society organisations and expert. The aim was to enable peer-to peer exchange on good practices to promote and strengthen ethics, transparency and citizen participation at local level in these countries.

The conference is organised by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities within the thematic programme “Strengthening institutional frameworks for local governance”, implemented jointly with the Council of Europe Centre of Expertise for Local Government Reform, Directorate General of Democracy. This programme is funded by the European Union and the Council of Europe, and implemented by the Council of Europe, through the Partnership for Good Governance (PGG) 2015-2017 for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus.

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