First Balkan Rural Parliament held in Vrnjačka Banja
Based on the rich experience generated by its involvement in the national rural parliaments throughout Europe, the national networks for rural development of the Western Balkans (The Serbian rural development network, the Rural Development Network of the Republic of Macedonia, the Rural Development Network of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Network of organizations for rural development of Kosovo, the Rural Development Network of Montenegro and the Croatian network for rural development)
, in cooperation with the Development Foundation of Turkey, the PREPARE and Latvian Rural Forum,
for the first time in the history of rural Europe organized a regional Balkan Rural Parliament.
The First Balkan Rural Parliament which was held from 26 to 28 June 2018 was visited by approximately 60 representatives of the civil and public sectors from the Western Balkans and Turkey, representatives of the European Commission, the national rural networks from all over Europe, international networks and organizations and many other rural stakeholders.
Main objectives of the first Balkan Rural Parliament were the following:
- Support the regional and inter-sectoral cooperation of the key stakeholders working on rural development in the Balkans;
- Raise the voice of the rural population in the Western Balkans and Turkey;
- Promote self-help(support) and activism among the rural population, in partnership with the civil and public sectors;
- Define major recommendations for the sustainable development in the rural communities of the Western Balkans and Turkey;
- Define major recommendations for EU institutions and national governments, in connection with the EU integration in the region based on the regional needs and specificities of the rural communities.
During the course of the event working groups were formed to discuss 5 different topics of interest:
- Young people and women working on rural development in the Balkans;
- Shorter chain of supply and the role of the networks in the Balkans;
- Social entrepreneurship as a possibility for diversification of economic activities in the rural communities in the Balkans;
- How to use LEADER/CLLD for achieving faster development in the rural communities in the Balkans;
- Cultural heritage of the Balkans bringing possibilities to rural development.
The conclusions and the recommendations of the working groups were summed up and integrated in a Declaration of the First Balkan Rural Parliament, which as an end product of this event will be addressed to the national governments and the EU institutions.