Sharing Estonian Experiences on Strengthening Local Governments – Seminar in Mtskheta, Georgia


In contrast to development cooperation efforts which tend to concentrate in and on the capitals and are designed in a donor-driven manner, ECEAP instead focuses on encouraging local ownership of change. It is entirely possible to resolve certain local economic and social issues and encourage development without direct support from the central level or waiting for centralised reforms to reach the regions. Through actively using opportunities offered by integration with the European Union and learning from the experiences of countries like Finland, Estonia was able to transform from “post-Soviet” to “European”. It is now Estonia’s turn to aid other countries wishing to undergo a similar transformation through sharing best practices and lessons learned.

In response to strong interest and an official request by the Mtskheta authorities, ECEAP held a seminar on June 18 for the representatives of local governments of the Mtskheta region to share Estonian experiences of integration with the EU. The well-attended seminar was opened by Giorgi Kapanadze – the Mayor of Mtskheta Municipality, Irakli Tskitishvili – the First Deputy Governor State Representative of Dusheti, Tianeti, Mtskheta and Kazbegi Municipalities, Jaan Reinhold – Estonia’s Special Envoy on Eastern Partnership and Director of ECEAP, and Margus Gering – the Deputy Chief of the Estonian Embassy in Georgia.

Former Head of the European Commission representation in Estonia, Hannes Rumm, shed light on the fears, myths and realities associated with European integration while the impact on regional development was explained and illustrated by the CEO of Standard Priit Tamm and the former Mayor of Viljandi Ando Kiviberg. Standard is the leading brand of office and hotel interiors in the Baltic region and a great example of how to benefit from the EU’s free movement of goods, capital and people whereas Viljandi has established itself as a regional hub of education (2/3 of municipal budget spent on education) and local cultural heritage (one of the largest annual music festivals in the Baltics).

By sharing Estonian experience of what, how and why needs to be done, insight was provided into
☑️the tasks and possibilities for the development of local governments,
☑️how to communicate and inform the public of the work of the local governments and
☑️how to work/cooperate with the civil society.

The seminar was organised in cooperation with the Mtskheta Municipality and financed by the Development Cooperation Fund of the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.