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Citizens’ participation at the local level in Europe and Neighbouring Countries

Contribution of the Association of Local Democracy Agencies

Edited By Antonella Valmorbida

ALDA – The Association of Local Democracy Agencies – is an organisation dedicated to the promotion of good governance and citizen participation at the local level. It is made up of over 160 members comprising local authorities and civil society organisations in the enlarged Europe.
Recently, new forms of interaction between citizens and decision makers have been put in place. By analysing ALDA’s 15 years of hands-on activities with its members and partners, this publication contributes to a better understanding of the added value of citizen participation at the local level in Europe and its neighbouring countries.
This book brings together the work of the Director and staff of ALDA and of the Local Democracy Agencies, as well as numerous practices and voices from the members and partners of its vast network. Through the field experiences presented, ALDA shows how and why citizen participation leads to the adoption of better solutions, and, at the same time, fosters long lasting, balanced development.
This publication formulates conclusions and offers insightful input for future activities aiming at building truly democratic local democracy. It is therefore particularly useful for all those who intend to work within the recently adopted programme ‘Europe for Citizens’ 2014–2020, as well as to bridge the topics of active citizenship and development – the focus of the European Years 2013 and 2015.
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Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spring 1996 – Bascarsija (Antonella Valmorbida)


← 16 | 17 → Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spring 1996 – Bascarsija

Together with a group of citizens from Vicenza (Italy), we organised support for an orphanage in Sarajevo. A couple of months earlier I had met a woman, Enisa, who had escaped from the besieged city through the tunnel. She said she cried when she reached Venice train station. Everything looked so normal there, while at home it was a constant nightmare. We kept in contact and since then we have worked with IKRE Foundation, in Sarajevo, to support children.

We arrived in Sarajevo for the first time in the spring of 1996 (Dayton agreements were signed a few months earlier), in a totally destroyed city. I met Adnan, a friend of Enisa, a man in his sixties. He used to be the director of one of the local banks. We had a coffee together in the Bascarsija. Our conversation – a bit surreal – ended up talking about how nice it is to read Russian authors. “Certainly, it is better to read them in Russian. I am lucky I can do it. Most of their meaning gets lost in translation.” But he answered: “I don’t know. Anything is better than war. We lost everything and we don’t know what for. As long as people talk, there is hope. Listen to me: never make war.”

Antonella Valmorbida, Director of ALDA← 17 | 18 →

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