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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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Foreword (Oriano Otočan, Jean Marc Roirant)

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Extract

Oriano OTOČAN

President of ALDA, Responsible for International and European Affairs of the Region Istria (Croatia)

In the last twenty years, our world changed a lot. In particular, my world did. I am from Istria, a wonderful peninsula in the Adriatic Sea, which for the most part belongs today to Croatia. My homeland is a multicultural and multilingual region with a very strong regional identity, which comes from a turbulent history, social and cultural specificity and geography. Some of the very old peoples who lived next to us happened to belong to a series of different states, always remaining in the same place. Only in the 20th century, it was Austro-Hungarian Empire, then Italian kingdom, then Yugoslavia and, today, Croatia which last year became a member of the EU. But certainly, no matter how it is, we feel strongly linked to Istria, our hinterland, and our sea and coasts.

In the recent past, in the events during the 1990s that wrecked Croatia and the Balkans in the conflicts, we always supported the coexistence and tolerance regardless of ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural or other differences. We tried to express solidarity, peace and understanding in the values of identities shared with diversities and with a strong will to reconstruct progressive ideas of democratisation, decentralisation, regionalism, tolerance, human rights, minority rights, EU integration process.

A bit of history is necessary to put into the right context all my work, and the work of the...

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