Rijeka, 27 September 2013
NEXPO 2013 - The South-East Europe International Municipal Fair - the largest event for local governments of South-East Europe, which saw the participation of about 2,000 local authorities’ representatives, local government associations, development agencies, civil society and business stakeholders acting in the region and in a wider area, was symbolically closed by handing over the NEXPO crystal sign to the mayor of the city of Plovdiv that will host the next edition of the fair in 2015.
The closing ceremony of NEXPO 2013 - The South-East Europe International Municipal Fair - was held at the Zamet Centre which over the last two days was a meeting venue of 230 city mayors and municipal mayors representing 270 local government units from 16 countries of South-East Europe.
The NEXPO crystal sign was handed over to the mayor of the city of Plovdiv, that will host the next edition of the fair in 2015 by the deputy mayor of the City of Rijeka Miroslav Matešić and the mayor of Opatija Ivo Dujmić, and the closing speech was given by Anton Peršak, NALAS president. The participants were also welcomed by Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities of the Council of Europe. Kelmend Zajazi, NALAS executive director and Ivan Totev, mayor of the city of Plovdiv in Bulgaria.
The main topics of the fair were energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. The Fair was organised by: the Association of Cities of the Republic of Croatia, the Association of Municipalities of the Republic of Croatia, the City of Rijeka and the City of Opatija as hosts and NALAS (network of local authorities of South-East Europe), as the umbrella organisation. The NEXPO Fair was followed by 134 accredited journalists, and 27 workshops were held within the programme. 392 various entities, including more than 50 companies presented themselves at the Nexpo Fair.
Anton Peršak, NALAS president thanked the organisers and volunteers for a very successful edition of the Fair which received a solid platform for successful dialog. Peršak thanked the representatives of European institutions for their participation and emphasised that he believed that many participants in the fair had managed to find suitable counterparts for exchanging opinion and experience. Speaking about further objectives of NALAS, Peršak said that the next task of NALAS, essentially, remained unaltered: insist on the strengthening of decentralisation and partnership relationships between local self-government and national authorities and the development of local self-government based on improved infrastructure, sustainable development, the use of renewable energy sources and interregional connections and assistance to local self-government units from the countries wishing to join the EU.
Dubravka Šuica, Vice-President of the Congress of Regional and Local Authorities of the Council of Europe also spoke about the importance of networking at local and regional level as one of the most important goals, emphasising that the region had no alternative, save the one offering EU membership. „There is a strong need of local self-government units to decide independently about their own development because this is also guaranteed by the European Charter of Self-Government. Yet some countries use the economic crisis as an excuse for centralisation again or for reducing decentralisation and that is inappropriate“, said Šuica.
Kelmend Zajazi, NALAS executive director read the baselines of the drafted Declaration, adopted in Rijeka, which is published on the website of NALAS, pointing out, among others, that the countries and cities of South-East Europe should find their own place within the EU, it also emphasises the strengthening of democracy and the role of local self-government in the implementation of the South-East Europe 2020 development strategy and requires a stronger legal and financial decentralisation framework.
Anton Peršak, NALAS president handed over a charter to the representatives of the following cities and communes: Kapos, Tešanj, Gračanica, Bagcilar, Travnik, Tomislavgrad, Yildirim and Arnavutkoy Belediyesi for their contribution to decentralised regional cooperation.
The mayor of the city of Plovdiv Ivan Totev thanked for the shown confidence, emphasising that the organisation of the next fair in 2015, in view of the hospitality and conditions provided by Rijeka, would be a real challenge for his city.