This year´s continuation of the European Cafés in Moldova initiative has been successfully kicked-off recently with the first wave of three regional debates on the topic of local governance.

On 17-19 March a group of central European and local practitioners, among them Michal Biganič, former mayor of Stará Ľubovňa and a career diplomat (Slovakia), Ion Carpineanu, mayor of Cărpineni (Moldova), and Krzysztof Kolanowski, former director of the Information Center for Local Public Authorities in Moldova (Poland), travelled to three regional localities of Moldova – village of Fundurii Vechi (Glodeni rn.) in the north, village of Gura Bîcului (Anenii Noi rn.) in the east and village of Horjesti (Hancesti rn.) in the west – and spoke about their personal and professional experiences with the local governance, the impact of the EU integration on the Visegrad region, and the changes that will need to take place in Moldova, as well as how they will impact everyday lives of common people in the country´s regions.

Enjoying a high level of interest among the local community leaders and wider public, the tour attracted altogether more than 100 participants, while the on-line streaming of the second debate in Gura Bîcului reached almost 75 000 views. The recording can be still watched from the archive here: http://bit.ly/1GW7TKv.

The first European Cafés “tour” was a part of a series of altogether five “tours” that will be organized in the regions of Moldova throughout the whole year, each time tackling one of the selected topics concerning the population (including also local activism, minority rights, education and agriculture) in an EU integration context, with an overall ambition to help the regional public in Moldova better understand the ongoing transition and EU integration-related changes and challenges through fostering a community-level debate among trusted experts and local community leaders on key societal issues, and by sharing V4 integration experiences and stories.

The European Cafés are financially supported by the International Visegrad Fund and are a continuation of an initiative launched as a part of the SlovakAid-funded project “Widening the European Dialogue in Moldova” (more about the previous project here, here, here or here).