Standing Conference Of Towns And Municipalities (SCTM)

Two Decades of Swiss Support

The Swiss Government has for many years been supporting the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities – National Association of Local Authorities in Serbia (SCTM) in developing and advancing local government in the Republic of Serbia, thus contributing strongly to the creation of modern local governments able to provide efficient public services for citizens and businesses. Cooperation between the Swiss Government and the SCTM has been ongoing since 2005 and implemented through multiple projects, via which Serbians towns and municipalities, and the SCTM itself, have received – either directly or indirectly – financial support totalling almost 13 million euros.

Over previous years, collaboration between the Swiss Cooperation Office and the SCTM has focused on strengthening the mechanisms of local democracy, i.e., on the inclusion of citizens in decision-making processes at the local level, on the reform of administrative procedures aimed at creating better conditions to attract investment and develop the business environment, strengthening the capacities of municipalities and towns to apply principles of good governance, as well as numerous other topics that have marked the last two decades of local government development.

In recognising the SCTM as a partner that approaches the development of local government strategically and facilitates the cooperation between local and central authorities, Switzerland also – from 2010 to 2022 – provided support for the SCTM to strengthen its organisation institutionally. Thanks largely to this support, the SCTM has built itself up to become a modern association of local authorities and a centre for supporting the development of local government units in Serbia.

Results achieved to date through cooperation between Switzerland and the SCTM show that it is possible and achievable to implement changes that lead to the development of local democracy and the creation of modern, professional and efficient local governments

“The longstanding institutional support of the Swiss Government has provided a key contribution to improving the ability of the organisation to effectively formulate, represent and advocate for the interests of the local self-governments, but also to contribute continuously to strengthening local capacities in all areas that are under the jurisdiction of local government,” considers SCTM Secretary General Nikola Tarbuk, as well as noting that, thanks to this support, the organisation is today recognised as an active participant and driver of the most significant reform processes in Serbia that are either being implemented currently or await local governments in the future.

Cooperation has continued in 2023 – the year marking the 70th anniversary of the establishing of the SCTM – with the launch of the “Partnership for Good Local Government” programme, which will run until year’s end 2026. This programme contributes directly to achieving the strategic goals of Swiss support to the Republic of Serbia and the goals of the Strategic Plan of the SCTM, implementing important systemic reforms, advancing the decentralisation of public administration, strengthening the applying of principles of good governance in the work of local governments and improving the quality and availability of services provided by local governments to citizens and the economy.

In Switzerland, Serbia’s local governments and the SCTM have found an important partner that understands and recognises the challenges confronting towns and municipalities and that provides continuous support to the development of local government units in Serbia. The results achieved to date through this cooperation between Switzerland and the SCTM show that it is possible and achievable to implement changes that lead to the development of local democracy and the creation of modern, professional and efficient local governments.

Jelena Puzović, Ph.D., Head of the JVP Srbijavode Public Relations and International Cooperation Sector

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