Instanbul (TR), 7 September 2007
Regional democracy in Turkey was given added momentum today when politicians from 40 European regions met with their Turkish counterparts. Examining how models of regional democracy from other European countries could be more relevant for Turkey, the regional politicians were able to exchange experiences and reinforce the message that strong regions with their own competences, finances and democratically-elected politicians are best placed to deliver economic growth, efficient services and accountable governance.
During the meeting of the political Bureau of the Assembly of European Regions (AER) – the political organisation of almost 260 European regional authorities – Riccardo Illy, AER President and President of the Region Friuli Venezia Giulia-I stressed that’this shows the true purpose of the AER: the European Regions acting together to support other Regions in their decentralisation process. This will be an important factor in developing Turkey and its economy. To develop Europe, we need to release the potential, good will, energy, know-how and creativity of all citizens. This is only possible by giving more responsibilities to the provinces.’
‘Although there is a tradition of a centralised unitary State in Turkey, the country has launched the decentralisation process to strengthen regional and local authorities. We welcome the reform that came into force in 2005, giving more powers to the Provincial Council, a directly elected body,’ explained Hasan Buyukdede, Chairman of Istanbul Provincial Council.
‘Through interregional cooperation with our members, the AER will support the Turkish Regions in adapting to their new responsibilities, in order to fully develop their potential and benefit their citizens. All the previous enlargement processes have shown us that it is crucial to have a strong and active regional level in order to be fully prepared for eventual EU membership,’ concluded President Illy.
Among the other main issues decided today, the AER Bureau made a series of recommendations and proposals on the future of EU regional policy. “A European Union regional policy is essential; it helps to improve the competitive advantage of all Regions on a European and global scale. EU regional policy post-2013 must focus on territorial cooperation networks. Member States must therefore implement the legislation required to enable European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) to be created. The regions are the best actors to fulfil the goals of the EU’, stated Thomas Andersson, Chairman of the AER Reflection Group on Cohesion Policy. “In view of the forthcoming EU Forum on Cohesion (27-28 September), we already met the Director of the European Commission Directorate for Regional Policy (DG REGIO), who expressed the full support of the European Commission for our recommendations,’ he concluded.
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