European Citizenship and Citizen's Participation in Local Government “ was funded with the support of the European Union under the auspices of the program »Europe for Citizens«
Applicable to the Action 1, Measure 1.1
»Town Twinning Citizens' Meetings«Slovenske Konjice, 12th – 15th of September 2013The aim of EUROPE FOR CITIZENS (EFC) program is to bring Europe closer to its citizens and to enable them to participate fully in the European construction. Through this program, citizens have the opportunity to be involved in transnational exchanges and cooperation activities, contributing to developing a sense of belonging to common European ideals and encouraging the process of European integration.Municipality of Slovenske Konjice has submitted this project, which was carried out between the 12th and the 15th of September, 2013 in Slovenske Konjice. Project partners are twin or friendly towns from EU or countries of Western Balkans, with whom Slovenske Konjice cooperate on various fields of interest - local government, tourism, culture, sports, business, youth and stimulating participation of underprivileged groups of society in local decision making. Slovenske Konjice hosted 58 participants from 9 friendly towns coming from 7 different countries: Slovenske Konjice, Slovenia; Gornja Stubica, Croatia; Tolfa, Italy; Biograd na Moru, Croatia; Hlohovec, Slovakia; Hranice, Czech Republic;Kosjerič, Serbia; Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Novska, Croatia; Sveti Petar Orehovec, Croatia.
Slovenske Konjice has been home for 58 participants from 7 country's: Slovenia 6 participants, Croatia 23 participants, Italy 5 participant, Slovakia 5 participants, Serbia 6 participants, Bosnia and Herzegovina 6 participants and Czech Republic 7 participants.Municipality of Slovenske Konjice has already signed formal agreements of cooperation and friendship with some of the participating municipalities, while it is still developing cooperation with the others on various fields of interest, such as collaboration between the inhabitants, companies, non-government organizations and local communities in order to develop these relations to the extent, which would suffice for becoming the official friendly towns in the near future.During the course of the project EC&CPLG our present cooperation with participating municipalities was upgraded with a three-day long educational seminar in Slovenske Konjice, where the main focus was put on discovering the meaning of EU citizenship and citizens' participation – representatives of underprivileged groups (youngsters, invalids) and their role in local decision making.As 2013 has been declared European Year of Citizens, this project will follow the main goal of improving the citizens’ awareness concerning their right to move and reside freely within the EU territory and any other rights, assigned to EU citizens, without any discrimination, including the right to vote on local and EU elections in the member states, where they reside. We also wanted to contribute to improving the awareness about concrete usage of these rights among the citizens and enlighten certain politics and programs, which exist in order to support the enforcement of these rights and encourage debates about the effects of the right to move and reside freely within the EU territory as an inalienable perspective of EU citizenship and the wide range of possibilities connected with this right.This seminar assigned special attention to presenting several examples of good practices about how to include the underprivileged groups into the processes of local decision making and their role in planning as well as developing local politics and programs. The first project dealt with encouraging the youth to participate in the processes of exploring local communities and finding their voice in local decision making. This project was titled “It’s up to you” and was one of the very first projects, in which Municipality of Slovenske Konjice participated as a partner and which was carried out under the auspices of the program “Youth in Action”, sub-action “Youth Democracy Project”. During its’ course, the youngsters from Slovenia and Sweden were actively involved in the project “Find Your Way to Local Community”, through which they investigated the functioning of local communities and their decision making processes. When the project was finished they carried out a simulation of a local town council, where they adopted some solutions concerning a certain local problem, which they earlier estimated as an important issue to be solved, on the basis of constructive debates and professional consultations. Similar project, also supported by the program “Youth in Action”, sub-action “Youth Democracy Project”, was carried out by Municipality of Slovenske Konjice in cooperation with the Youth Center of the Dravinja Valley, Municipality of Novska (Croatia) and the Youth Association of Novska in the period between 2012 – 2013. During the project, the other participating municipalities were acquainted with the rules of planning and executing such a project. The main purpose was to encourage them to carry it out in their own municipalities. We also collectively planned the needed HR and content support with the future knowledge transfer and experiences for the possible execution of the same project in other municipalities.
Municipality of Slovenske Konjice took part in a national project “Disabled People Friendly Municipality”, through which it gained the needed knowledge about how to include the disabled people into local politics planning, about the measures which were meant to eliminate certain infrastructural barriers for the disabled, and about their participation in preparation and execution of the program, resulting with participation of the disabled on various local community fields. Our knowledge and experiences are extremely valuable, therefore we passed them on to participating partners and also exchanged their own experiences from the field of stimulating participation of underprivileged groups of society in local decision making.The project united many representatives of local communities as well as the youth and people belonging to underprivileged groups. They successfully presented their own experiences and suggestions for more successful participation of underprivileged groups into local decision making. Besides the seminar, all participants had the opportunity to visit local touristic and cultural attractions, be a part of social gatherings and present the results of the executed activities in the project in public.
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