The meeting started with opening remarks by the Swiss delegation members consisting of Ambassador Ruth Huber, Vice-Director of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and Head of the Cooperation with Eastern Europe Department; Ms. Georgette Bruchez, Head of the Western Balkan Division; H.E. Philippe Guex, Ambassador of Switzerland to Serbia; Ms. Ursula Läubli, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) in Serbia and Ms. Sascha Müller, Head of the Governance Domain. Thanking their hosts for a warm reception, the Swiss representatives expressed their satisfaction with the successful cooperation with Serbia, as well as with the opportunity to support its local communities, particularly the vulnerable groups. Emphasising their commitment to good governance and social inclusion, the Swiss Confederation representatives expressed their interest in providing support to vulnerable groups, particularly youth, in the field of employment.
After welcoming their guests, the representatives of “Merhamet Sandžak“ – Ismet Suljović, President, Albina Ujkanović, Coordinator of Projects from the EU Programmes, and Ajša Bahović Latifović, Project Manager for “Vulnerable Groups toward Competence”– presented the long-term cooperation of their organization with Switzerland, which gradually expanded from the local level to development projects.
Talking about the project to be implemented by May 2019, envisioning on-the-job training sessions for unemployable groups with five employers from different commercial sectors (textile, administrative, printing, etc.), all the participants agreed that this type of support leads to economic empowerment and the creation of opportunities for an improved quality of life. The call for proposals has already been opened and 20 beneficiaries will be selected. According to the Project Manager of Merhamet, “training sessions and mentoring have opened a new window for Novi Pazar“.
The Project implemented by Merhamet Sandžak is one of the 26 projects supported through the Call for Proposals “New Ideas Customised to Community” with a total of EUR 350,000. Ana Nedeljković Belja, the Programme Enhancing Good Governance and Social Inclusion for Municipal Development - Swiss PRO National Programme Manager, and Dragan Mladenović, Good Governance Advisor, talked about the nature and purpose of this Call, as well as the technical support provided to towns and municipalities.
“The joint initiative of the supported CSOs, as well as 16 local self-governments that will obtain technical support in developing or enhancing the necessary processes, procedures and regulations on the funding of local projects implemented by the civil sector and then realized in partnership, should contribute to the fundamental application of good governance principles“, state the Programme representatives.
The meeting with “Merhamet Sandžak“ is part of a two-day agenda of visits of the Swiss Confederation delegation to projects, initiatives and local self-governments who are long-term beneficiaries of the Swiss assistance and development partners in Serbia.