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Local government reform important for democracy and economic development in Kosovo, conference hears

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PRISTINA, 8 June 2005- Local government reform is a necessity for the democratic processes in Kosovo and can contribute to economic development, regardless of Kosovo's future status, was the conclusion of atwo-day conference which ended yesterday in Prishtinë/Priština.

The event gathered international and local experts to share the expertise of countries in the region that have gone, or are going through, the same process, and taking into account their positive results for the complex task of reforming local governance.

"Kosovo will be expected to and should rely heavily on the experience of local government reform in the region, and is highly relevant at this critical time," said Ambassador Werner Wnendt,Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.

Another important conclusion of the conference was that, since this reform is a long-term process and should happen in continuity, central governmental authorities - Kosovo's Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG) - should play a crucial role in providing leadership to keep the process stable. This would include the Assembly of Kosovo passing new legislation, and Ministries improving their work with municipalities.

At the same time, local institutions should be empowered to better provide key services and be in control of municipal assets. Legislative reforms would help local governments raise needed revenues and enhance local planning processes that contribute to economic development. It would also help strengthen the protection and inclusion of smaller ethnic communities and facilitate returns.

"The reform of local government is a key factor for the effective delivery of services and the application of the European principle of subsidiarity," said Ambassador Wnendt. "In Europe, the lowest level of administration is of great importance, and it is particularly important to all communities in Kosovo."

While the reform process is still in its early stages, Kosovo has already seen some examples of goodpractice in the local level, such as in Fushë Kosovë/Kosovo Polje, Kamenicë/Kamenica, Novobërdë/Novo Brdo, Štrpce/Shtërpcë,and Prizren. Representatives from Gjakove/Djakovica, Shtime/Stimlje and Skenderaj/Srbica outlined thework of their municipalities inpromoting local economic development.

Ambassador Wnendt also said that the Missionhas welcomed the creation of fiveWorking Groups which will ensure that the process of local government reform and decentralization remain on track, and that the Kosovo Serb and other communities will be included in this process.

The conference was organized by the OSCE Mission in co-operation with the Ministry of Local Governance Administration, the Association of Kosovo Municipalities and the United Nations Development Programme.

Organization for security and co-operation in europe/ Missionin Kosovo

For further information, contact the OSCE Mission Spokesperson Sven Lindholm

Tel: (+381-38) 500-162 x260 / mobile: +377-44-500-254

e-mail: press.omik@osce.org/ website: www.osce.org/kosovo

Sven Lindholm
Mission Spokesperson
OSCE Mission in Kosovo
Tel: +381 38 500 162 ext.260
Mob: +377 44 500 254