The first debate on local development in Gračanica

Local Community Takes Initiative

More than one hundred entrepreneurs, company representatives, local officials, representatives of youth, women’s associations, civil society organizations and renowned experts gathered yesterday in Gračanica for the first debate on local economic and sustainable development.

This is the first in the series of 14 debates that European Union Special Representative (EUSR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina is organising in municipalities across the country.

EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark hosted the debate together with Ambassador of Kingdom of Sweden to BiH Anders Hagelberg. Local and regional experts joined them as well.

“I am glad that the first of 15 planned visits to local communities started in the Municipality of Gračanica, which shows extraordinary progress and potential. We in the EU deeply believe that local communities have a key role in the process of EU integration”, Ambassador Wigemark said.

In his opening addressing Swedish Ambassador Hagelberg said that he is impressed by the progress in Gračanica Municipality.

“Do not underestimate your own potentials, because we in Sweden have many Bosnians and Herzegovinians who are extremely successful, and this local community is such an example”, Hagelberg said.

The participants pointed to the problems local communities in BiH are facing, primarily administrative burdens and obstacles.

Representatives of EU-funded projects that contribute to the development of local communities shared their experience during an informative-educational fair organised after the debate.

Representatives of the LID (Local Integrated Development) project, the Programme for Local Self-Government and Economic Development in BiH – EU ProLocal as well as the the Municipal Environmental and Economic Governance (MEG) project (financed by Swiss Government and implemented by UNDP) took part in the fair.

During the visit to Gračanica, Ambassador Wigemark visited successful construction company “Širbegović” and Association “Gračaničko keranje”, that is situated in Old House of Mare Popović, a national monument.

The EUSR in BiH started “Local Community Takes Initiative” project and will visit 15 local communities and hold debates on the role of local community and the challenges and possibilities that EU accession process provides.