Foundation for Local Government Reform
2006/10: First Steps of the National Rural Network

The National Conference entitled "First Steps of the National Rural Network" was held on 22 November 2006 in Sofia. The event was an initiative within the framework of the "Rural Network and LEADER" Project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MAF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Foundation for Local Government Reform (FLGR).

The objective of the national forum was to provide possibilities for open debates about the National Rural Network among more than 250 participants - agricultural producers, farmers, business representatives, NGOs, national and regional associations, community centers, business centers, municipalities, mayoralties, syndicate organizations, international donor programs, local initiative groups; representatives of ministries, national agencies and regional structures of the central government.

Within the conference Ms. Helen Williams, Desk Officer for Bulgaria, Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development, European Commission, Brussels, introduced participants to the legal and the political framework at EU level in regard to establishing and strengthening national rural network in the period of 2007 - 2013.

The second part of the conference program accented on outlining national policy for rural development and supporting Bulgarian Rural Network's establishment that were presented by Mrs. Miroslava Georgieva, Department Director of Rural Areas Development within the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.

The overall idea, goals, participants, challenges and opportunities faced by the National Rural Network were presented by Mrs. Marina Dimova, FLGR Program Coordinator. The final part of the conference was sharing achievements and results within the Rural Network and LEADER Project presented by Mrs. Tanya Shumkova, project leader.

To present moment over 550 participants are network members - organizations, institutions, citizens, business and administration representatives, local governments and mayoralties. In continuation to the support provided for the establishment of the Rural Network so far and in its role as Temporary Secretariat, FLGR created a common register of participants with contact information and field of activity. The register will be constantly up-dated, as well as published on the FLGR web page, Rural Network button. (only in Bulgarian)

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