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Active citizenship - a challenge for the government and municipalities


Prishtinë, 19 December – On Thursday, the nongovernmental organization Syri i Vizionit from Pejë held a conference on the topic of “Active Citizenship”, where it published a summary report on the work it did on empowerment of civic initiative. The conference was held in Prishtinë, where MLGA, Association of Kosovo Municipalities, Municipalities of Dukagjini Valley, civil society and representatives of villages and neighbourhoods of Pejë and Prizren regions took part.

“Kosovo needs active citizenship and all of us should work more to create opportunities and space for citizens to be part of decision-making processes and address their issues to local as well as central level institutions. Although it is being worked in this regard, it still remains a challenge for the local and central level institutions,” said Vlora Latifi of NGO Syri i Vizionit.

On the other hand, Lumnije Demi, director of the press office at the Ministry of local government administration (MLGA) said that “municipalities have all legal mechanisms and their support to regulate their cooperation with leaders of villages and urban quarters in order to be more transparent and accountable toward the citizens; however, there were flounders in this regard.”

“Citizens participation in decision making processes was very low, but we at the Ministry recommended the municipalities to develop mechanisms for increasing citizens and public participation in decision making,” she added.

Meanwhile, municipal officers present in the meeting agreed with Ministry’s assessments and those of other participants that citizens’ participation in decision making is low. As far the municipal regulations on cooperation between the municipalities with representatives of villages and urban quarters, they expressed their concern that even in those municipalities that these regulations were adopted; they cannot be implemented in full.

“As the municipality of Klinë we still haven’t adopted it, since a sort of payment or stimulation should be done to the representatives who are elected in villages and neighbourhoods for their active engagement,” said Ali Shala of the municipality of Klinë legal office.

Municipal officers present in the meeting called on MLGA to request from the Ministry of economy and finance to draft a budget line that would enable municipality to stimulate or pay representatives or the elected persons from the local councils.

On the other hand, civil society and representatives of some villages and urban quarters said that these leaders/representatives should certainly be stimulated, as nobody want to contribute voluntarily any longer, but in order to have an active citizenship and active leaders who address their issues timely toward the institutions, they need to be paid or stimulated.

Shqipe Arifaj from the Association of Kosovo Municipalities said that complete draft regulation, which directly links the citizen with the municipality, was handed over to municipalities. However, according to her, some of the municipalities still haven’t adopted it. “As an Association, we have constantly provided training to officers to make them aware of the role and importance of inclusion as well as the cooperation of municipality with citizens and civil society, in order for municipalities to become more transparent and accountable,” Arifaj added.

Representatives of villages and neighbourhoods of several municipalities said that municipalities and other institutions should be more close to the citizens, either in providing information or services.

“Municipalities should be more in the field and talk to citizens in the areas they live. It is not always necessary for the citizens to go to the municipality. Ways of stimulating us as representatives should be identified in order for us to be able to present problems we face on time,” said Sejdi Baleci from Grabanicë village of Klinë.

At the end of the meeting, the following recommendations came out:

•    Municipalities should increase communication with citizens through public announcements, regular meetings and through media,
•    Ministry of finance in cooperation with MLGA and municipalities should create funds for stimulating heads of local councils,
•    To increase communication of local institutions with the central ones and civil society in empowering active citizenship,
•    Institutions should provide more space and develop special policies for empowerment and inclusion of women in decision-making.