On September 23, the Member of the RA NA Delegation to PACE Armen Gevorgyan made a statement at the meeting of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held in the city of Izmir of Turkey.
“ Dear Chair ,
Dear Committee Members ,
In my first statement as General Rapporteur on Local and Regional Authorities, I would like to outline the main tasks on which I intend to focus.
Colleagues, as you know, COVID-19, being a great challenge for all mankind, has become a specific problem for the Council of Europe as well. I mean the limitations in our work, which have definitely reduced the level of interaction within the organization. It will be necessary to give a new impetus to the joint work and interaction between the institutions of the Council of Europe on the issues of local democracy.
Secondly, we need to focus on identifying and discussing those main challenges that undermine the necessary level of social trust in our societies. It accordingly affects the quality of local democracy and the work of local and regional authorities.
It is in the context of this second task that a number of issues become relevant in many countries of the Council of Europe during the energy crisis. Not only are federal and central governments facing major challenges, but regional and local governments are also facing major challenges. An increase in tariffs leads not only to a decrease in the level of social well-being of the population, but also to an impact on the quality of services provided by municipal and regional authorities. It is important to ensure thе uninterrupted and most efficient functioning of healthcare facilities, educational, cultural, sport and other services.
The worsening of the overall security situation in communities, the potential growth of crime and corruption are predicted. Many local authorities may face budgetary problems to address issues of financial and other social support for the local population. The provision of such assistance, or its absence, may create issues of equity and fair distribution of public funds and benefits.
In general, such difficulties and problems can undermine the bases of social trust in society and reduce the level of prestige and recognition of authorities.
The social protests may intensify, which could bring to the new, not standard political processes. This can lead to the new challenges with respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms.
According to the mentioned, it is important and appropriate that the Council of Europe, through its respective institutions, will constantly monitor the following issues:
1.Effective and continuous cooperation between central, regional and local authorities in the Member States to overcome the difficulties and consequences of the energy crisis for maintaining the best capacities of local governments, and, specifically, in terms of the budgetary relations.
2.Preservation of fundamental human rights and freedoms and the norms of democracy in the member states, and as a result, maintaining a high level of social trust in societies, for more effective and responsive local democracy, ” Armen Gevorgyan concluded.