By: Genc Namani

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In a ceremony that took place in Hotel Emerald, the Association of Kosovo Municipalities marked the launching of the AKM’s Training Centre- our new advanced service program for our municipalities.

This project comes as a result of the Association’s continuous engagement on lobbying and advocacy on behalf of municipalities towards the Government, the Assembly of Kosovo and other relevant stakeholders, on several issues aiming at improving services for citizens at the local level.

The ceremony was attended by the Ambassadors of Switzerland and Sweden in Kosovo, Mayors, various municipal officials as well as hundreds of AKM’s associates and partners of the Municipalities and the Association.

The President of AKM, Mr. Agim Veliu, in his opening speech stated that “this evening the Association celebrates a new success story- a historic milestone for the organization and all its member municipalities. We are launching the Association of Kosovo Municipalities’ (AKM) Training Centre-our most recent program.

With the establishment of the Training Centre, the Association of Kosovo Municipalities is expanding its range of services by providing politically elected and appointed officials in the Municipalities with a platform where they can address their demands for fostering their knowledge and improving their skills in different areas related to local government.

For more than ten years, we have had excellent cooperation with the Swiss Government- a key supporter of functional and accountable governance at the local level.

With the establishment of the Training Centre, the Association has a new partner on board – the Government of Sweden. Working with the staunch support of the two most powerful states and equally powerful promoters of local democracy in Kosovo is an achievement we are proud of. On the other hand, I would also like to thank for their support: USAID, the European Commission, GiZ, OSCE, UNDP, NALAS and other partner organizations of the Association who never left our side.” said among other things President Veliu.

In addition, the Ambassador of Switzerland in Kosovo, Mr. Jean Hubert Lebet in his speech said that “Since years, Kosovo has achieved good progress in the area of Local Governance. The legal framework for local governance is modern and in line with international standards. Municipalities are becoming more transparent, responsive and accountable towards the citizens.

Along with the progress achieved so far, further advancement is important, such as:

Strengthening of local democratic practices to ensure adequate participation of all citizens and to build trust. This is crucial!Improved management of financial and human resources to achieve more efficient and effective handling of municipal budgets and increased performance.Qualitative, inclusive and responsive municipal service delivery to visibly improve the live and wellbeing of all citizens. At the end of the day, most important improvements are those which are noticeable and measurable at the level of citizens.

Since 2006, Switzerland concentrates a fair share of its support in the area of local governance in Kosovo in order to reach the final user, meaning all Kosovo citizens.

Today we have gathered to mark the launch of the Training Unit of the Association of Kosovo Municipalities (AKM). Switzerland is supporting the AKM since 2009, based on the notion that a strong association of municipalities is pertinent for the advancement of local governance in any country. The AKM represents a very strong voice on behalf of municipal interest in Kosovo. We are pleased, that the AKM is now taking over an increased role in capacity development for municipalities.

We are very pleased that the Swedish government has joined to support the AKM Training Unit. This strengthens further the close collaboration and partnership between Switzerland and Sweden in several development cooperation programmes in Kosovo.

We wish AKM a lot of success in this new endeavour. We hope that your efforts will soon translate in visible achievements related to enhanced municipal performance, good local governance and effective service provision for all citizens.” said among other things Ambassador Lebet.

On the other hand, The Ambassador of Sweden in Kosovo, Mrs. Hernmarck Ahliny in her speech said that “Smart and inclusive politicians build smart and inclusive municipalities.

The level of inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability is the key indicator for how well the any governing structure will perform, especially at the local level. By including a broad spectrum of the population in the decision-making, and by applying a high level of transparency, authorities open for genuine accountability, which in turns leads to trust.

To build trust at the local level equal and equitable access to public services such as education, infrastructure, transport, pre-schools, primary medical care, social services, water, sewage, waste collection and other basic services, are crucial. And the municipal elected and appointed officials are at the fore-front of the decisions that affects the lives of the citizens.

This is why we are so pleased to support the establishment of the Training Unit of the Association of Kosovo Municipalities. In order to respond to citizens needs and improve service delivery, municipal authorities are invited to constantly learn.

The comprehensive capacity development system for municipal officials will assist the participants in delivering on their current tasks as well as in mastering the skills needed for upcoming challenges. The Training Unit provides an opportunity for all municipalities to continue working towards improved service delivery, adapted to the needs of the citizens.” said Ambassador Ahliny while delivering her speech.

Furthermore, in a short presentation regarding the training centre, Mrs. Edona Peci-Training Centre Manager, after elaborating the objectives, modules and functioning of this Centre said that “The Training Centre is in charge of designing, organizing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating AKM’s comprehensive and standardized capacity development program. AKM intentionally focuses on politically elected and appointed officials as they are offered limited training opportunities. The AKM program approach for capacity development is entirely demand-based according to the needs of politically elected and appointed officials in municipalities”.