Prime Minister, Ministers, Colleagues, Guests,
Let me first thank the Kosovo Local Government Institute for being invited to this event. It has been a pleasure for the Norwegian Embassy to contribute to the excellent and important work of the Institute for some time.
Kosovo has made many achievements since independence. One of these has been to establish a comprehensive system for local government.
In the next decade, Kosovo should complete the transition chapter in its history. Kosovo should establish a common vision for the future, on how to address the core national issues, and how to mobilize all strands of society to reach its objectives. Bringing the system of local governance up to the next level, should be part of this vision.
Experience shows that countries with a well-functioning state, does also have well-functioning local authorities.
When discussing the Kosovo system (or “model”) of local governance – and if this system should be changed in the future - one must answer the following questions:
- Should more tasks be delegated to the local level?
- Should more money be allocated to the local level?
- Should the decision-making process be changed?
In the meantime, waiting for the question of reform to be addressed and concluded, one should improve how things work within the existing system. One should improve governance in municipalities, through building competence and capacity, and facilitate improved interactions with national authorities and between municipalities.
We all want local authorities in Kosovo to be robust entities, being able to formulate policy and to provide services in a professional, transparent and inclusive way.
We wish to invest in people that want to learn, to increase their skills and their competence - and to do something good for the local community and for the nation.
A few words about my home country – Norway. I think most Norwegians would agree that Norway for most part has a well-functioning local democracy. Local democracy has a very strong tradition in Norway. No politician who wants to win national elections can ignore this fact.
The government of Norway has had a strong public reform agenda. It has adopted a comprehensive local reform package, approved by consensus in the Parliament. The purpose of the reform is primarily to meet new challenges and increase efficiency in local administration. This is in line with modern thinking on public authorities as a service provider, and not only a regulator.
Let me conclude: The form and shape of local government is dynamic, not static. To make sure that this dynamic development goes in the right direction, one needs open discussions, training, documentation and research. This fact adds to the importance of the work and efforts of the Kosovo Local Government Institute and of the conference here today.
Thank you for your attention!