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Taking advantage of the communication between local self-government bodies and civil society organizations as an opportunity to promote local democracy, “Youth Cooperation Center of Dilijan” NGO initiated a meeting-discussion “Council of Elders-Resident: How to Cooperate?” Members of the factions of different parties represented in the councils of Ijevan and Dilijan consolidated communities and representatives of non-governmental organizations took part.

The aim was to strengthen the capacity of council members in the field of effective cooperation with the residents. The meeting was led by Abraham Artashesyan, Vice President of the “Union of Financiers of Armenia” NGO, local government expert.

The stages of development of the local government system and development, legislative regulation, organization of activities, main principles of decision-making, challenges, motivations and risks of community enlargement, forms of local participation and tools, the role of the Council of elders, functions to ensure the effectiveness of that participants were presented. The current issues in the communities, the possibilities of using the forms of cooperation of NGOs with the local self-governments, the compensation of the implementation of the functions of the Council of Elders, as well as the possible conflicts of interest in the decision-making process were discussed. During the active discussion, various opinions were expressed on the topics of the agenda.

The issue of the participation of the residents in the local self-government was discussed, as mentioned by Kristine Shahnazaryan, a member of the “Civil Contract” party faction in Dilijan․ “The member of the council of Elders gets questions or problems from the resident, which are presented to the council member, but the resident doesn’t come up with any initiative”.

The participants were also introduced to the results of the thematic discussions on “CSO-Local Government Communication” in Dilijan and Ijevan communities with the participation of council members and non-governmental organizations.

To the question of why the participation of the residents in the local self-government is important, the president of the “Support to Women and Children” NGO Manush Hovnanyan mentioned that the participation of the resident in the decision-making processes is very important, but first of all the civic consciousness of the resident should be raised.

The participants used the topics presented during the meeting and the questions discussed for their daily activities in order to improve communication with the residents and NGOs.

“DATA: Data for Accountable and Transparent Action” program is implemented with the support of DATA Consortium (Eurasia Partnership Foundation, SOCIES Expertise Center, Bun TV Foundation, Youth Cooperation Center of Dilijan NGO, SOSE Women’s Issues NGO) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)).