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The President of the Republic opened a forum on regional development and local government policy

The President of the Republic today in Pärnu Concert Hall opened a forum on regional development and local government policy ''Strong Local Government - Basis for Estonia's Balanced Development''.

In his opening address President Rüütel noted that being the organizer of social life the local government functions as a link between the state and civil society. ''The ability of the local government to secure a safe and quality living environment, to organize pre-school and basic education, to provide social assistance in order to solve problems caused by too rapid development of society, and to create opportunities for participation in the organization of local life - all that determines the attitude of people towards their state and the activities of state authorities,'' the Head of Estonian State said.

In the words of the President of the Republic, the future of the local government should be seen in a dimension that combines the needs, possibilities and responsibilities of our society. ''The development necessity assumes that we overcome the backwardness in several Estonian districts and secure their development potential with the help of various measures. This is a key issue of the local government and regional policy. A single concept or one legal act is not sufficient to find solutions; it is necessary to associate the national integrated educational, economic, social, and budgetary policy with the scale of regional development needs. It is also necessary to use capably, thoughtfully, and with the involvement of local authorities all those possibilities that the European Union provides for the support of regions. Assessing the developments in Europe as a whole, we can say that the importance of local government will significantly grow in the future Europe. Therefore it is important to promote the cooperation between local governments with our near neighbours both in the Baltic states and in the Nordic states,'' the Head of Estonian State said.

President Rüütel emphasized that when filling the future model with content, it is essential that it would be supported by theoretically structured basis and would take into account critically assessed experience of other countries. ''The practice, development and legislative drafting of our local government has taken its own course that runs separately from scientific research work. I hope that the local governments using joint efforts would build a bridge between practice and science in the near future. The assistance of scientists is needed in fulfilling the model of cooperation between public and private sectors on the level of local governments, and in working out optimal and local government development securing solutions for organizing regional administration and supporting local government cross-border cooperation,'' the President of the Republic said.

Public Relations Department of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, April 25, 2006

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