‘Local Community Takes Initiative’
The debate on the local and economic development held on Friday in Sokolac sparked big interest among various local community stakeholders, businesspeople, farmers, representatives of civil society organisations, high school students and youth as well as representatives of the local government.
It was the tenth such debate organised by the Office of the EU Special Representative in BiH within the “Local Community Takes Initiative” project.
EU Ambassador to BiH Lars-Gunnar Wigemark hosted the debate.
“It is important to have cooperation between local communities, especially when it comes to cross-border cooperation projects. It is also important to know that a lot of things depend on the citizens, on the people who live in local communities and on the initiatives they take. It is up to them how much of the benefits of EU integration and the possibilities the perspective that the EU gives they will use”, Ambassador Wigemark said, adding that local communities are at the heart of the European Union as well as the biggest potential winners of EU integration.
Ambassador Wigemark said that the economic potential of Sokolac Municipality is in the development of agriculture, especially stock breeding, wood industry as well as many other sectors. He also noted that local communities are the bearers of the European integration in BiH.
French Ambassador Guillaume Rousson, who joined the debate, stressed that it is very important that projects like this provide the possibility to have direct contact with the citizens in local communities.
“I am glad that we will talk today with the people of Sokolac who come from the business, educational or NGO sectors and answer their questions on the functioning of the EU, their perspective and what we stand for, our ideas, projects and plans”, Ambassador Rousson said.
The participants of the debate in Sokolac pointed to some of the key issues their local community is dealing with such as modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture. They also expressed satisfaction with the discussion with ambassadors and regional and local experts who answered their questions and gave concrete advice and recommendations.
Ljiljana Belada, a regional expert and coordinator of the Enterprise Europe Network in Montenegro, highlighted the importance of cooperation of local communities with the business sector within the local communities.
“Montenegro has opened all of the chapters within the negotiations with the EU and it can be a good example for BiH. It is important to be on the right track and it is important to be well-informed on everything that the EU integration process provides”, she said.
Following the debate, participants had the opportunity to visit the informative-education fair organised by EU co-funded projects which are directly contributing to economic and sustainable development of local communities including Local Integrated Development (LID) funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP and EU ProLocal – the Programme for Local Self-Government and Economic Development in BiH funded by the EU and German Government, implemented by the GIZ.
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.