First Local Democracy Agency launched in
Georgian September 2006
After more than four years of planning, the Association of the Local Democracy Agencies (ALDA) opened its first office in the Caucasus, in Kutaisi, Georgia, on 8 September 2006.
For more details about ALDA go to www.ldaaonline.org
Vice Chair Bernard Tyson,(right) represented the Newport Kutaisi Association, who have supported the setting up of the Local Democracy Agency (LDA) from early days. Cllr David Mayer and Clare Evans, the Council’s European Affairs Officer were also there representing Newport City Council. David is a delegate from NCC to NKA and the City Council agreed to be the Lead Partner in the venture.
We spent a busy first day interviewing for the post of Delegate. This is the term ALDA use for the team leader of the project at a local level. Later discussions on policy, leadership, accommodation and funding the LDA were held amongst the local, national and European delegates. There were over 10 individuals or representatives of as many different EU states around the table.
It was agreed that the initial objectives of the LDA would be to encourage the role of both local authorities and groups in civil society and the the empowerment of young people and women. It was also agreed that the new LDA will focus its work on the participation of citizens in decision making, the strengthening of local democracy and the promotion of human and minority rights.
The LDA will have, like the other 11 LD's in South East Europe, a solid European and local partnership. The cities involved in the activities for the next three years are: the lead partner Newport City Council, as well as Monfalcone (Italy) and Nantes (France). At local level, the cities of Kutaisi and Tbilisi, the National Association of Local Authorities (NALAG), the Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and our sister organisation, the Kutaisi Newport International Association are all supporting the LDA. It is very likely that other international and national partners will join the network of the Agency in the following months.
Above front row: Madonna Megrelishvili, Giga Chogovadze, Per Vinter, Antonella Valmorbida, Bernard Tyson, Chiara Valdesolo,
Back row. Lukas Vandamme, David Mayer.
During the opening ceremony at Kutaisi Civic Centre the following day all the partners confirmed that they will work together to support democratic and peaceful values and signed a memorandum of understanding.
The Mayor of Kutaisi, Mr Giga Chogovadze said in his address “We have a great expectations from this first LDA in the Caucasus. After many years of difficulties we are aware that development has to go along with democracy and decentralization. We do think that the LDA can be a useful tool to move towards this direction.”
The work of the LDA, closely linked to the Congress of the Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, was highlighted by Mr Igor Gaon, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to Georgia and former Mayor of a suburban area of Sarajevo. He described his experience with the LDA Prijedor in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war: “In Prijedor, the LDA was our main partner for the return of more than 250.000 Muslim refugees. The LDA was a key player for the stabilisation and the development of the area.”
The Delegate in charge of the LDA in Kutaisi, Joseph Khakhaleishvili (right), expressed his will to work with all the partners, both in civil society, local authorities and with citizens and to try to develop existing resources, in particular with the Kutaisi Newport International Association which has worked extensively to develop the twinning between Newport and Kutaisi since 1988.
ALDA experience in building and sustaining local democratic structures in the new states of the former Yugoslavia will be invaluable if we can transfer those ideals and practices to Georgia
We hope that this will be the first of many reports on this first Georgian LDA
Go to report by Antonella Valmorbida
LDA Visit to Georgia 2006