Local Community Takes Initiative
Participants of the public debate held in Prnjavor on 8 March concluded that cooperation between business and education sectors is a key prerequisite for economic and sustainable development of local communities.
This was the fourth public debate organized by the Office of the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, attracting a large number of entrepreneurs, officials, activists, young people and farmers.
EU Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark hosted the debate and was joined by the Italian Ambassador in BiH, Nicola Minasi.
„We are here to talk about all important issues with citizens and others who are a driving force of development of Prnjavor municipality as well as to hear about their expectations from the European Union,” stated Ambassador Wigemark. He added that the European integration process was not something that only big centres, such as Sarajevo or Banja Luka, participate in but that all local communities in BiH, such as Prnjavor, with their extraordinary development potential should actively participate in too.
The Italian Ambassador stressed that his country’s experience demonstrated that local communities can make a significant step forward in the process of European integration. Referring to a large number of national minority groups living in Prnjavor, Ambassador Minasi stated that “Prnjavor has been known as a mini Europe, having a large number of national minority groups living in harmony“.
Ambassador Wigemark also visited a small exhibition of traditional folk clothing and delicacies prepared by associations of national minorities and talked to their representatives after which he paid visit to two successful local companies Mladges Pak and Topling.
Regional and local experts in local economic development participated in the discussion about challenges and opportunities that the EU integration process brings. They emphasized that there was a need for the education and the business sector to cooperate. “Closer cooperation between the education and business sector is key to a successful business environment and reduction of the unemployment rate,” education expert Nina Brankovic said.
Participants used this opportunity to discuss a range of issues with experts, including improvements to the business environment, establishment of cooperation between municipalities as well as energy efficiency, minority rights and their cooperation with their motherlands, as well as opportunities that the European integration process will bring to young people.
Following the debate, participants had an opportunity to visit the informative-education fair organized by EU co-funded projects which are directly contributing to economic and sustainable development of local communities including EU ProLocal – the Programme for Local Self-Government and Economic Development in BiH funded by the EU and German Government, implemented by the GIZ, and the MEG – the Municipal Environmental and Economic Governance project funded by the Swiss Government, implemented by the UNDP.
Within the “Local Community Takes Initiative” project, the Office of the EU Special Representative is holding public debates about the challenges and opportunities of the EU integration process and supplementary programmes in 15 local communities across BiH.