During the European Union–Eastern Partnership Local Leaders’ Forum “Solidarity and cooperation: how to be stronger together in the coming years?”, organized by the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (LALRG) and held in Riga on 12 November, Mr Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, emphasized the importance of cooperation between local governments as an opportunity to present to inhabitants reforms and development cooperation funding in different areas. Mr Rinkēvičs pointed out to the auditorium of this international forum that cooperation among local governments is an excellent example of public diplomacy since any policy in the end is local: “If as a result of our cooperation we have managed to improve quality of delivered public utilities - these are issues that local inhabitants may appreciate in their everyday life – and changes are labelled by the European Union, this only enhances comprehension how the country should look like and what can be mutually learned and implemented from the best practice.”
While Mr Gints Kaminskis, Chairman of the LALRG, also a CORLEAP member, in his opening speech pointed out that the LALRG in 20 years has obtained significant experience in development cooperation and development education activities; this experience is shaped together with representatives of other local governments and their associations, non-governmental organizations, schools, universities, and entrepreneurs. Mr Kaminskis remined about the significance of forum’s moto - “solidarity and cooperation” – both during pandemics and in the upcoming months while preparing for the Eastern Partnership summit planned in March 2021. “Our exchange of discussions, opinions and best practice experiences is especially important before the planned Eastern Partnership summit, we set great expectations on this summit in order to strengthen partnership among EU member states and Eastern Partnership countries,” said LALRG chairman.
Valuable speeches were made by Mr Frédéric Vallier, Secretary General of Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), Ms Marika Chkhikvishvili, Member of Ozurgeti Municipal Council in Georgia, Mr Jeroen Willems, Deputy Head of Unit EaP, DG NEAR, Mr Markku Markkula, Vice President, European Committee of the Regions, Mr Axel Kuechle, Permanent Representation of Germany to the European Union Representative of German presidency, as well as several other representatives from Latvia, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, and Norway.
Discussions at the event were focused on local governments’ contribution to the European Green Deal, as well as implementation of the UN Sustainable development goals in the context of public administration reforms.
The forum that took place for the second year in a row was organized by the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (LALRG) in cooperation with the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR) and PLATFORMA, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, Nordic Council of Ministers’ Office in Latvia, and Riga City Council. The event gathered around 200 participants from the European Union and Eastern Partnership countries, as well as Ghana, Montenegro, and Palestine. Recording of the 1st part of the forum is available at PLATFORMA YouTube account; recording of the 2nd part – discussion on the role of youth in policy making – is available here on YouTube.