On June 27, 2007, NDI, the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, and the Union of Local Self-Government Units (ZELS) joined together to strengthen links between the citizens of Macedonia and their elected representatives by signing a Memorandum of Cooperation to support NDI’s Constituency Office Assistance Project. This NDI initiative is currently opening 65 offices across Macedonia — up from 46 during the previous mandate.
The signing ceremony took place in parliament and was attended by over 150 guests including the deputy prime minister, government ministers, members of parliament (MPs), and also representatives from the international community.
The network of Constituency Relations Offices will provide every MP access to a district office, enabling them to meet constituents and hear their concerns at the grassroots level. Each office will be fully staffed by a constituency office assistant, with a casework database, developed by NDI, to track citizens’ queries, complaints and concerns, as well as follow up action.
Ljubisha Georgievski, president of the Assembly, stated: “I believe that with the signing of this memorandum, and with NDI’s organizational and financial help, the engagement of the local authorities, and of course, the help of the government, which will take over the financing of this project on Aug. 31, 2008, we are taking a significant step towards the further development of the democratic process in our country, and also in the strengthening of the roles and responsibilities of members of parliament.” This strong endorsement underscores the high regard parliament, political parties and MPs have for this project and the important role the new offices will play in engaging citizens with their elected representatives.
Under the agreement, NDI will manage the project and provide assistance and support to each of the offices. The Institute will also provide computers, multipurpose printers and other technical support as well as consultancy and a full training program for MPs and their assistants. ZELS will provide space in municipal buildings, so that these offices will no longer be housed in political party premises, as well as utilities and furniture. MPs themselves will cover the day to day operational costs of their office. This is partnership working in practice and provides both the support and the optimism for the long-term sustainability of the project.
The project started in 2003 with initial funding from the Canadian government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). In August 2007, NDI obtained funds from the Swiss government to expand the network from 46 to 65 offices. When all of them have been opened, no citizen will be more than 30 kilometers away from the nearest office. The Assembly will contribute half the project costs starting in January 2008 and will cover all costs from August 2008. ZELS will continue to provide office space, utilities and furniture.
Photo caption: Ljubisha Georgievski, President of the Parliament (center), Andrej Petrov, President of ZELS (left) and NDI Macedonia Director Chris Henshaw (right), sign the Memorandum of Cooperation that officially launches the reopening of constituency offices throughout Macedonia.
This material was drawn from the Memorandum of Cooperation on the Constituency Office Assistance Project, a press release from NDI on the signing of the agreement, and a newsletter publication by NDI’s Macedonia office.
Published on August 24, 2007