During ALDA's Festival and Assembly on June 9, 2023, an engaging panel titled "30 Years of Local Democracy Agencies in the Balkans" shed light on the region's conditions and ALDA's work within it. The six speakers skillfully connected the region's past struggles with its current realities while envisioning a European future. The panelists addressed pressing topics for the Western Balkans, offering unique perspectives on democracy work and the challenges that lie ahead.
The panel discussions started with Ms. Antonella Valmorbida, Secretary General of ALDA, who emphasized the historical importance of building local democracy in the Balkans and its significance for the people since the establishment of the first LDA in 1993.
Ms. Dusica Davidovic, Member of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Council of Europe, and Deputy Mayor of the City of Nis, Serbia, highlighted the vital role of LDA's work in rebuilding trust in post-conflict areas.
Ms. Viola Von Cramon-Taubel, Member of the European Parliament, stressed the value of decentralization and decision-making at the local level, emphasizing the need for knowledge-sharing and EU support.
Mr. Elbert Krasniqi, Minister of Local Government Administration of the Republic of Kosovo*, shared his personal journey with ALDA, highlighting how his perspective has changed from an institutional angle, while the enduring aim of maintaining democracy and peace remains the same.
Ms. Dragica Martinovic, Vice-president of the EESC's Western Balkans Follow-up Committee, emphasized the importance of advocating for dialogue and international cooperation while staying on the path to EU integration.
Ms. Natasa Vuckovic, Director of the Center for Democracy, Belgrade, underscored the significance of cross-sector cooperation and fighting against inequalities together, as an everyday effort.
The last panelist, Mr. Emir Coric, from the Ministry of Local Self-Governance of the Republic of North Macedonia, highlighted the need for citizens' direct participation in the EU accession process.
The moderator, Ms. Katica Janeva from ALDA, the Head of the Unit for the Western Balkans, concluded the panel session.
The discussion proved to be insightful, inspiring, and memorable for both participants and attendees. Moving forward, LDAs will continue to foster connections and networks, enabling citizens to voice their concerns and better understand the conditions in the Balkans. Their ultimate goal is to strive for a better quality of life for the citizens in their respective countries, as well as in the neighborhood.