The Conference on Participatory Democracy at Local Level kicked off in Yerevan today. The conference is organized under the Armenian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in close co-operation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.
The conference addresses issues related to participatory democracy at local level, in particular the current situation in member states, the role of participatory democracy in improving the efficiency of local authorities and the ways of strengthening participatory democracy at local level.
Armenian Deputy PM Armen Gevorgyan read out the address of Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to the participants. The Minister said the conduct of the event in Armenia is an exceptional opportunity to discuss the latest developments in participatory democracy on local level.
In his opening remarks President of the Congress Herwig Van Staa thanked Armenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Territorial Administration Armen Gevorgyan and Mayor of Yerevan Taron Margaryan and the Armenian Chairmanship of the Council of Europe for making the conduct of the conference possible.
Herwig Van Staa congratulated the Armenian authorities on their recent ratification of the Additional Protocol to the European Charter of Local Self-Government on the right to participate in the affairs of a local authority.
He extended a special welcome to the civil society representatives, noting that “participatory democracy is very much a partnership between elected representatives and civic society.”
”Participation is one of the priorities that the Congress has identified for its 2013-2016 activities, where we affirm our belief that the quality of democracy depends on the participation of citizens in the democratic process. We underline that this participation must include all residents, particularly those groups which currently feel excluded – such as young people, foreign nationals and minorities,” Herwig Van Staa said.
”One activity where we are already working together with the Union of Communities of Armenia to promote citizen participation – is the European Week of Local Democracy. We now have 29 member states using this tool to involve citizens more in the political process. The theme this year is “Active citizenship at the grassroots level – voting, sharing, participating” and I am looking forward to heard what activities our Armenian partners are planning for this year’s event,” President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities said.