More than 60 various stakeholders from rural areas of the Western Balkan countries, including representatives of the civil society, Managing Authorities from the WB countries, national governments and relevant donors, gathered in Ohrid, N. Macedonia, on June 15 and 16, for the 2nd Balkan Rural Parliament, organized by the Balkan Rural Development Network (BRDN), with financial support of SWG – Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in South Eastern Europe.
Despite the presence of the Western Balkan stakeholders, the 2nd Balkan Rural Parliament was virtually attended by many important actors in the rural development sector among which representatives of the European Commission and relevant EU organizations, who joined the discussions on the challenges and actions which can be taken for improvement of the well-being of the WB rural communities.
Inspired by the national rural parliaments, which have been implemented in Europe for more than a decade, the Balkan Rural Parliament is already taking its place in the policy-making process for rural development of the Western Balkans as one of the basic tools for representing rural communities, through national networks and the Balkan Rural Development Network.
“The Western Balkan countries are in the process of EU integration and the rural development plays a significant role in the EU accession and it’s one of the major driving forces that can accelerate this process. We need to invest in strengthening of the mutual trust on every level among people, institutions at national level, but also impowering the trust between the Western Balkans and European Union to build equal partnerships.
The Western Balkan values can only enrich the values of the European Union. We urge the European Union to give active support to governments in making the reforms and to provide an effective support in strengthening the capacities of the civil society organizations and networks at national and regional level in the rural development processes.
Today and in the future, BRP is to sustain as a tool for advocacy and lobbying for the rural communities, as well as media for promotion, visibility and communication of the common rural development issues, and exchange of experience and knowhow.”, said Petar Gjorgievski, the President of BRDN, in his welcoming speech.
The two-days program was enriched with field trips organized in the surrounding area of Ohrid and Struga, where the participants had the opportunity to visit some interesting sights, see the potentials for rural tourism in the region and hear some inspiring stories from local entrepreneurs.
The final output of the Balkan Rural Parliament is to develop a set of strong stand points regarding the concerns and aspirations of the rural people and what these imply for action by the rural communities, for the policies of the governments, in the form of Declaration.