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The Albanian Network for Rural Development (ANRD), in partnership with the Agricultural University of Tirana (AUT), and under the auspices of the Speaker of the Parliament of Albania, Mr. Gramoz Ruçi. organized on 28-30 September 2017, the First Albanian Rural Parliament.

Picture1The first Albanian Rural Parliament offered a vibrant atmosphere to discuss some of the most important aspects of rural development in the country. The first two days of the 1st Alb. Rural Parliament, which took place  at the premises of the Agricultural University of Tirana,  were comprised of plenary sessions, guest speakers, discussion panels, networking opportunities, workshops and working groups, offered  a great opportunity to discuss, network, transfer know-how and exchange ideas and best practices on rural development – locally, regionally and internationally. While the third day, held at the Albanian Parliament was important to address key messages from farmers, representatives of rural communities, grass root organizations and official government representative. (See the full Programme)

Picture4Over the course of three days, 64 panelists and national and international experts interacted with over 300 guests, representatives from the 61 municipalities of the country: local public authorities, private sector, grass-root civil society organizations, ANRD member organizations, scholars and research institutions, rural entrepreneurs, and other formal and informal groups from local communities throughout the country. They attended up to 22 thematic sessions. The event was successful in putting the rural development priorities into the agenda and priorities of governmental rural policies, meantime orienting Albanian rural stakeholders toward positive and functional models in local integrated development.

The Introductory Note was addressed by Ms. Evelina Azizaj, ANRD National Coordinator, who welcomed all the ARP participants coming from all over Albania and wider, to be part of an advocacy, capacity building and networking platform as a way to advocate, gain knowledge, exchange ideas and experiences and to discuss the most emerging issues of rural development in the country.

The event welcomed several international and Picture5national guests, speakers and experts, where we can mention Mr. Marius Lazdinis, Deputy Head of Unit, DG Agri, EC; Ms. Maren Kneller, Head of Development Cooperation, German Embassy; Ms. Kirsten Birke Lund, Representative of the Steering Committee of European Rural Parliament; Mr. Sotiraq Hroni (ANRD Board Chairman); prof. Dr. Bahri Musabelliu, Rector of the AUT; Prof. Dr. Fatbardh Sallaku (AUT Dean); Ms. Alina Cunk Perklič (Senior Representative of Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Head of Coordinating committee for CLLD/LEADER, Slovenia); Dr. Carlo Ricci (Independent Expert); Mr. Goran Soster (Representative of PREPARE aisbl – Partnership for Rural Europe etc.

Picture6Meantime, the third day of the ARP 1, which was organized at Albanian Parliament, addressed the key messages from government officials to farmers and grassroots organizations. H. E. Mr. Gramoz Ruci, Speaker of the Albanian Parliament presided the session with his key note speech addressed to the 1st National Rural Parliament (Mr. Ruçi full speech)By bringing the voice of rural people into the Albanian parliament (as represented by the passionate speech of a female farmer) was another milestone, provoking public debates on  situation of rural communities, policies on rural development  and government efforts to advance rural agenda. (Ms. Rigerta Loku speech)

The Joint DECLARATION of the First Albanian Rural Parliament 2017 – a vision for rural communities and a set of recommendations addressing the development priorities of rural communities in Albania was read and finally handed to government representatives as a way to ensure their commitment to further advancing the Rural Agenda (Read the DECLARATION).

An important part of this session was the launch of the Friends of Rural Parliament Group – an advocacy and lobby group  composed of distinguished personalities of the social and political life of Albania that support the Rural Parliament Initiative in the forthcoming meetings every two years.

Finally, the 1st Alb. Rural Parliament was successful in underlining key foresights on what is needed next for addressing challenges and critical issues of rural development, especially implementing the LEADER/CCLD toward establishing functional model of LAG type partnership and their local development strategies as an effective instrument of sustainable local development of rural areas.