PRISHTINË/PRIŠTINA, 15 September 2012 – The Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, Ambassador Werner Almhofer, marking International Democracy Day, highlighted the importance of public participation and transparency in political decision-making.
“Local and central-level institutions should seek the public’s more active participation when designing policies that affect them. This is crucial for democracy and for the sustainability of democratic institutions,” he said.
“In particular for young people, women and the more vulnerable members of society, it is important to have a say in political decision-making,” added Almhofer, noting that the OSCE has supported the Assembly of Kosovo and municipal assemblies in increasing outreach to their constituencies and foster public participation.
“Assembly committees increasingly conduct outreach activities and public hearings. The OSCE in particular supported the women caucuses in becoming more active and helped youth action councils to develop the necessary capacities to get more involved. We also noted a significant improvement in municipal institutions encouraging public input on budget priorities.”
Almhofer emphasized transparency as another prerequisite for democratic institutions to enjoy public confidence: “Civil society and the media must be able to access information from institutions in order to hold elected officials accountable. The OSCE has recently supported the development of a civil society database available on the Assembly website, enabling NGOs to receive regular updates from the Assembly and access key publications. Kosovo institutions should continue to improve access to information for the media.”
The OSCE Mission in Kosovo is mandated to support democratic institution-building, to promote human rights and to help develop the public safety sector.