The European Committee of the Regions received a delegation of Libyan mayors and local representatives on Thursday. In a meeting with CoR president Markku Markkula and various members of the Euro-Mediterranean Regional and Local Assembly (ARLEM), the local leaders representing different Libyan municipalities expressed their wish to step up cooperation with European mayors and regional representatives of the EU. They also reiterated their support for an internal agreement aiming to reach a ceasefire in the country.
Local leaders have been paving the way for a stronger internal dialogue and cooperation aiming to fight against terrorism and promote an internal peace process, also through the establishment of a mechanism of technical coordination among municipalities with the support of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. In a message addressed to the Libyan participants today, Ms Mogherini praised their efforts: "In March, we discussed the importance of having the municipalities taking a leading role in pushing for an agreement to bring the current crisis to the end. The fact that you have remained in contact and put differences aside to discuss and agree important measures like ceasefires and prisoner exchanges is something for which I wish to express my admiration and recognition". She also promised further support from the EU: "Soon we will launch an ambitious programme to provide support to a number of municipalities across the country on a wide range of issues, such as local governance, crisis and post-crisis planning, economic development and service delivery".
The CoR president Markku Markkula, in his role as co-chair of ARLEM, wants to close the existing gap between Libyan local authorities and European partners by offering opportunities for cooperation, also in the context of the Union for the Mediterranean partnership. Inviting the Libyan participants as observers to the next ARLEM plenary session in Nicosia in January 2016, Mr Markkula said: "Radicalisation, international trafficking of human beings and extremism find fertile ground in instability and capitalise on the weakness of the institutions. The setting of a horizontal political body through elected mayors represents a fundamental step towards unity of action and the enforcement of a grass-rooted rule-of-law system in Libya. Democracy transition begins at grassroots level and to be stable needs to be embraced by local communities. Through a genuine partnership and through an active participation within ARLEM, we wish to initiate a new dynamic cooperation which can assist with building administrative capacity to facilitate economic, social and territorial development in Libya."
The members of the Libyan delegation warmly welcomed the CoR initiative and stressed the necessity of developing a long term partnership strategy highlighting relevant actions to enhance skills and tools of Libyan local authorities to improve their service delivery capacities to the people. Furthermore, they have stressed the importance of setting up a joint follow-up mechanism to make sure engagements would be duly and timely achieved.
The Libyan delegation was composed of the following representatives:
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