|On October 28, 1999, the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a round table entitled “Civil Control over Local Government.”
The round table was opened by Dr. Ognian Shentov, President of the Center for the Study of Democracy and a Member of the Coalition 2000 Steering Committee. Pasquale Ferraro, Deputy Director of the International Development Law Institute, presented to the participants in the round table the activities of Coalition 2000 so far and stressed that the initiative was considered a model for a private-public partnership in the states of Central and Eastern Europe. John Grant, Mission Director, USAID/Bulgaria, pointed out that the Coalition 2000 process represented a good illustration of the saying “Think globally, act locally.”
The need for enhanced transparency and new measures to fight corruption in local government were examined in the reports by the recently re-elected mayor of Sofia, Stefan Sofianski, and by the newly elected mayor of Pleven, Naiden Zelenogorski. According to mayor Sofianski, corruption should be fought not by general statements but by specific anti-corruption measures. Mr. Zelenogorski expressed his willingness for a dialogue with the non-governmental sector on the issue of corruption in local government and declared his intention to launch a program aimed at making Pleven a “town with no corruption.”
Mrs. Zhivka Damyanova, Program Manager of Coalition 2000, introduced the Coalition 2000 initiative to create the institution of civil observer, intended to exercise control over local government. It was suggested that the organizations, whose projects had been approved as part of the Small Grant project of Coalition 2000, should sign memorandums for partnership with representatives of local authorities providing them with the opportunity to participate as observers in the work of municipal councils.
The common aspects in the work of civil observer and of local ombudsman were also discussed. It was pointed out that the institution of the local ombudsman represents a higher form of civil control. The two institutions - that of the civil observer and of the local ombudsman - are expected to pave the way for the new institution of the People’s Defender, to be introduced by a law drafted by a work group at the Center for the Study of Democracy within the framework of Coalition 2000.