TOGETHER AGAINST NATURAL DISASTERS
The first meeting of representatives of twenty municipalities and cities from the South-East Serbia region, from the South Morava Basin with the official of the RS Ministry of State Administration and Local Self-Government, the Public Investment Management Office and the UNDP Office in Belgrade, was held at Nis City Hall. The goal of the meeting, as pointed out, was to familiarize with the initiative for association and better cooperation of local self-governments from this area in situations of natural disasters and emergency situations, with special emphasis on preventive action in order to minimize such situations. According to the State Secretary at the Ministry of State Administration Ivan Bosnjak, in practice, it turned out that it was necessary to re-establish a system similar to the civil protection system that functioned well in the former SFRY and that many Western countries have established their defense systems against emergencies based on that model. Bosnjak stressed that it was necessary to create a system in which municipalities and cities would use and join all their capacities and jointly, coordinated, work primarily on prevention, whether it was cleaning and arranging watercourses, forest roads for extinguishing fires and similar activities, because floods, fires, earthquakes, and all other elements did not know the administrative boundaries, and therefore, so in order to prevent them the local administrations should work together. Deputy Director of the Public Investment Management Office, former Office for Reconstruction, Sandra Nedeljkovic pointed out that the damage from natural and other disasters was at least ten times more expensive than the money that should be invested in preventing these phenomena. All the disadvantages of our country in emergency situations were best seen in the floods of 2014 and therefore the Office and the line ministry insisted on uniting and working together in the prevention of such events, which, she said, would certainly be more and more frequent due to climate change. Up to now, under the auspices of the Standing Conference of Cities and Municipalities, several associations have been formed, territorially determined by the river basins, so that municipalities and cities from the West Morava, Drina, Danube and Kolubara basins have already joined together, and similar initiatives have been initiated in the Velika Morava Basin, Timok and Vojvodina.
Nis City Mayor Darko Bulatovic emphasized that the City of Nis supported this initiative and that it was ready to make available all its capacities to the neighboring municipalities because, as he said, not a single municipality could protect itself alone from natural disasters and the cooperation in this field was of immense importance. A similar assessment was also made by the Mayor of Gadzin Han, Sasa Djordjevic, who led the SCTM Committee for Emergency Situations. He said that the cooperation of small municipalities that did not have great technical and material capacities and human resources with larger municipalities and cities was simply necessary, and stressed that he expected that this process would be joined by all thirty municipalities and cities from this area. The Assemblies in all municipalities and towns in the South Morava basin should discuss the suggested Protocol on Association in the coming months, and the official signing was announced in mid-February. The host city of that meeting, as agreed, would be the City of Leskovac.