Attended by Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, the fourth annual conference of rural communities kicked off in Jermuk. The conference is to discuss topical issues relevant to local government and rural communities involving all stakeholders.
Welcoming the forum on behalf of his government and himself, the Prime Minister said that the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Association of Armenian Communities-hosted forums have already become traditional in nature, turning into an effective platform for addressing numerous local and regional governance systems-related theoretical and practical issues.
Hovik Abrahamyan especially stressed the importance of having the participation of heads of rural communities, along with the representatives of various government agencies, international organizations. In his words, it is provides an excellent opportunity to communicate with each other, exchange experiences.
The Prime Minister said that the conference agenda is quite full, which includes items relevant to the local government system, further improving institutional-oriented topics as well as communities in the provision of various services aimed at increasing efficiency and increasing the volume of problems.
“I would single out the issues relating to administrative reform, improvement of institutions necessary for their implementation, holding of local elections, the introduction of mechanisms to ensure the full functioning of local councils, communities, the mechanisms needed to efficiently distribute State-administered financial resources and administrative oversight. The conference agenda is also advantageous in terms of practical issues. In particular, I would single out the national strategic plan for solid waste management, Kotayk and Gegharkunik marz programs which already have a specific description and financial structure, for which, by the way, the Government of Armenia is negotiating favorable credit terms and grant resources to attract,” the Premier said, noting that projects like that are being developed for Lori and Tavush marzes.
Taking this opportunity, Hovik Abrahamyan thanked the representatives of international organizations in attendance for their willingness to assist the Government.
The Prime Minister stressed that the development of agriculture is a government priority and is kept in spotlight. This is evidenced by those numerous programs that are designed to support the progressive development of this sector.
In this context, the Prime Minister highlighted the ongoing discussions pertaining to the use of modern technologies in ensuring biodiversity, providing sound pasture, forest management, establishing farms, agricultural cooperatives and the modern trends of agriculture development.
“Here, I wish to emphasize the important role of local-self government authorities. Through better organization, proactive steps we can ensure some local results. We have already recorded tangible results in the creation of greenhouse farms, berries and small agricultural processing capacity. They are good and instructive examples. In recent months, juice and dried fruit processing small entities were launched in Ayrum, Lusadzor, Bagratashen, Sardarapat and a number of other rural communities. Greenhouse facilities will be commissioned in Kothi and Chinari communities. These initiatives are very welcome, and the Government will encourage such efforts,” the head of government said.
According to the Prime Minister, the most important precondition for effective local self-government is people’s participation in decision-making and implementation processes.
People’s activity is also a decisive factor in the formation of local authorities. According to the head of government, the awareness of this factor has led to the implementation of various UNDP-supported programs aimed at radicalization of democratic government.
“I want to emphasize that we realize that consistent effort and political will is needed to inculcate the fundamental principles of decentralization and local self-government. We have the necessary will. I wish to assure you that we will continue the reform process. We have still a way to go before we can tackle the social problems of about 866 rural communities, create all the necessary conditions, but what is important is that we are on the right path, and I am convinced that with joint efforts we will reach our goal,” Hovik Abrahamyan concluded.
The conference is attended by representatives from central and local authorities, local and international organizations involved in regional projects, experts. Each marz is represented by ten community heads and five aldermen council members.
The forum is also a good platform for all actors involved in the field of sustainable rural development to come together and exchange information on programs and policies.
On the margins of the conference, there will be organized round tables, which will focus on the development of local self-government bodies, environmental concerns, agricultural development trends, as well as tourism and balanced regional development issues.