Perspectives of Eastern Partnership’s development, the role of self-governments in shaping relations with eastern neighbours of the European Union, opportunities for cooperation – those were the most important subjects raised during discussion panels during the 1st Eastern Partnership Self-government Forum
On Thursday (19.09), Białystok hosted a debate held by regional civil servants, MPs, entrepreneurs dedicated to the perspective of cooperation under Eastern Partnership. It was due to the 1st Eastern Partnership Self-government Forum initiated and organised by the Mayor of Białystok, Tadeusz Truskolaski. The event was taken under honorary patronage by the President of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski.
“We want to take advantage of our special geographical location and become the leader of Eastern Partnership on the selfe-governmental level,” said Mayor Truskolaski. Białystok’s role in the contacts with Eastern Partnership’s member states was also emphasised by Grzegorz Schetyna, Chairperson of the parliamentary (Sejm) Foreign Affairs Committee and Robert Tyszkiewicz, Deputy Chairperson of the committee and Chairman of the parliamentary Team for Belarus. “This is a good time and a good place to conduct talks between the EU members and the Eastern Partnership states. We show the way to the civic society, the road to democracy, sovereignty and finally to Europe,” said Grzegorz Schetyna.
During two panels, forum participants talked about cooperation opportunities, barriers that hinder the societies in getting closer, benefits that come from the EU’s eastern policy. The first one entitled “Eastern Partnership today and tomorrow. Perspectives on cooperation development” was attended by Olaf Osica, Director of the Eastern Studies Centre, Robert Tyszkiewicz, Chairman of the parliamentary Team for Belarus, Ambassador Beata Pęksa, Representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Eastern Partnership, Marek Woźniak, Marshal of the Wielkopolskie Province, chairperson of the Polish Delegation to the Committee of the Regions, Zbigniew Gniatkowski, Deputy Director of the European Commission Representative Office in Warsaw, Andrzej Arendarski, President of the National Chamber of Commerce, Staffan Herrström, Ambassador of Sweden to Poland and Iurie Bodrug, Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to Poland.
The second panel “Network of self-governments – regions and cities in the Eastern Partnership” was an occasion for Paul Bevan, Secretary General of Eurocities, Andrius Kpcinskas, mayor of Kaunas, Tadeusz Truskolaski, Mayor of Białystok and Jolanta Taczyńska, author of the report “Cooperation between the Polish Units of Territorial Self-government and the Local and Regional Authorities as well as Other Entities from the States Included in the Eastern Partnership Initiative” to share opinions.
The debates were listened by the representatives of self-governments and international business from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Many emphasised that they find particularly valuable Polish experience in development of self-government and the Forum is a perfect opportunity to observe closely how the local authorities function in our country. Simultaneously with the main debates, the organisers run an economic panel dedicated to presentations of individual cities and regions of the EU’s eastern neighbours.
The second day of the Forum was dedicated to study visits presenting, among others, the most important investments in Białystok.