Kosovo gets help from British local government body

31 May 16

The UK’s Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) has announced it will work with a Kosovan local government institute to build capacity and gain a greater understanding of decentralisation in the country.

The LGiU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kosovo Local Government Institute late last week. This forms the basis of a strategic partnership around policy analysis, capacity building, knowledge sharing and research across accountable governance and decentralisation.

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU, said the unit is pleased to be “bringing [its] wider experience to bear to help local leaders across these regions”.

He added: “In the UK, we can also learn a lot about how successful reorganisation is delivered here.”

The partnership follows a series of visits with central and local institutions in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia, all three of which have decentralisation programmes in place.

The LGiU met government officials and the mayors of towns and cities in each country with the aim of understanding the achievements and challenges of local governments in the region.

Carr-West said the theme of the visits spanned establishing local government in post-conflict or post-communist situations, and the “certain characteristics that eventually become incompatible with efficient and democratic delivery of services”.

“The transition to a local government structure that is efficient, representative, participatory and transparent is what all local governments in the western Balkans are now tackling.”

The LGiU said it will now work to produce a paper on the future of local government in Kosovo, which will be presented at an event at Pristina, the Kosovan capital, in July. It will also help Kosovo develop a bid for European Union funding.

After declaring independence from Serbia in 2008, Kosovo’s decentralisation process began amid lingering tense relations between its majority Albanian population and the Serbian community.

Decentralisation was heavily backed by the international community, who saw it as a way to integrate the Serbs and establish peaceful co-existence in Kosovo. However despite this, and alongside much investment from abroad, local governance in the country remains weak.

Both Macedonia and Albania also have decentralisation programmes, with Albania having just completed a significant reorganisation of local government.

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