Successful visit to the Swiss partners

On 26 – 30 of May 2013, a delegation of Municipality of Zagórz took place in a study visit in Municipality Villars–sur–Glane, Hardworking and productive stay at Swiss partners was the next stage of the project “Academy of Democracy and Development” – shaping of local active civil society and the mutual transfer of knowledge and abilities in solving basic problems of local communities, based on the experience of local governments of Zagórz (Poland) and Villars–sur–Glane (Switzerland).

The composition of the 36-member delegation included, among others: Mayor of ZagĂłrz – Ernest Nowak, vice prefect of Sanok county – WacĹ‚aw Krawczyk, Commander of the Border Guards in Sanok Lt. Col. Andrzej Siwiec, district commander of the State Fire Service in Sanok Brig. Krzysztof DĹĽugan, director of the District Employment Office in Sanok Wojciech WydrzyĹ„ski, chairman of the Department of Technical Services in ZagĂłrz Marian HniĹ‚ka, local government officials, school principals, students, and leaders of civil society organizations from the community Zagorz. Selection of participants was due to the previously established with the Swiss side. The exchange areas have marked three thematic axes: 1) public safety, 2) sport, culture and education, and 3) the local government and municipal services.

One of the most interesting Swiss experience that no doubt should promote in our reality is the idea of cooperation and complementarity manifested in the relations between the representatives of the municipalities and their associations, districts, cantons and services operating in a specific Swiss system of local democracy. Therefore, to participate in a study visit we invited representatives of departments and institutions at different levels, with whom we work every day solving specific problems, of  residents of the Commune Zagorz and other municipalities of the Sanok District  – says the Mayor of ZagĂłrz Ernest Nowak.

Despite the language barrier, the beneficiaries of the project quickly found a common language. This has led to a lively exchange of experiences in all the thematic areas mentioned above. Much of the credit members of the nine-member Executive Council of Villars-sur-Glane with Mayor Erika Schnyder at the head and the secretary of the commune Emmanuel Roulin, who with great care prepared the program of the study visit and with involvement  welcomed the Polish delegation. The hosts familiarized participants visits with the mechanisms of action of Swiss direct democracy. A group of Polish local governments had an opportunity to see how the model works in practice, taking part in the 50-person session of the General Council of the Commune Villars-sur-Glane where expenses of the municipality in 2012 were summarized, and were discussed the current problems of the village. Participants of the project were divided into smaller working groups and they visited the waste incineration plant,  water treatment station, a sports hall, a theatre, a local volunteer fire brigade institution, police, ambulance and nursing home. The Polish delegation was also taken by the CEO of the energy group, operating in the municipality of Villars-sur-Glane and neighbouring municipalities, which gave the opportunity to visit the hydroelectric power plant, which is partly owned by municipalities.

The project also involved a group of 8 young people from the Municipality Zagorz, which was adopted by eight students from the municipality Villars-sur-Glane. Each of the Polish students lived in the house of his Swiss carer, and with him went to school, taking an active part in lessons.

Coordinator of visits young people was Caroline Denervaud a member of the Executive Council of Villars-sur-Glane responsible for education issues.

The “Academy of Democracy and Development” is financed by the Partnership Fund Block Grant Swiss-Polish Cooperation Programme. An important part of the study visit in Villars-sur-Glane was the premiere of completed under the project promotional films about the partner municipalities (see below). And what is the timetable for further project activities?

We are approaching the end. Crowning touch activities of “Academy of Democracy and Development” will be return visit of the Swiss in municipality of Zagorz scheduled for early October this year – said Jerzy Zuba-co-author and Co-coordinator of the project.

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