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for the village and small town ECOVAST
Chairman of the meeting : Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic; Minutes Secretary: Pam Moore
Nineteen persons were present (of whom 4 were non members). The meeting was conducted in English and German. A list of those present is appended.
a. Greetings from the President of ECOVAST International & Secretary ECOVAST Croatia
Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic greeted those present and offered apologies from Biserka Dumbovic Bilusic, President of the Croatian Section. Tihana reported that the host organisations had been pleased to have ECOVAST in Istria.
b. Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence had been received from Magdalena Banu, Prof. Michael Dower, Angus Fowler, David Green, Crispin Moor, Prof Nunos Santos Pinheiro, Gabor Rajnai, John Sell, Dr Olga Sevan, Dr Arthur Spiegler, Jane Wade and Andrea Weigert.
The Agenda was accepted by the Assembly without amendment, but a request was granted for the representative of the Hungarian Section to report at an early stage because he had to leave.
2. Minutes of the last General Assembly
a. Approval of the Minutes of the General Assembly held on 20 September 2008 at Wittstock, Germany
The minutes of the General Assembly for 2008 were agreed to be a true record without amendment. Proposed Valerie Carter, seconded Phil Turner, carried nem.con.
b. Matters arising from the Minutes where not covered by the Agenda
There were no matters arising, except for an enquiry as to whether the possible members from Norway and Bulgaria had joined ECOVAST; it was noted that they had not yet done so.
3. Reports on the work of ECOVAST 2008/2009
Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic stated that she had hoped that the GA could have been in Macedonia, but this had not been possible. She expressed the aspiration that ECOVAST might meet there in 2011, after a UK Assembly in 2010. Tihana mentioned other international events in 2010 in Russia, and possibly, Slovakia, She concluded her report by saying that she had participated during the year in events in Croatia, Slovenia, Belgium, and in Ireland.
b. Secretary General
Pam Moore reported that since the last General Assembly, there had been three meetings of the International Committee, one in Vienna, and two in Croatia. Three Newsletters had been published since the last Assembly, and the next would be circulated before Christmas.
The Secretary General advised that during the year she had attended two sessions of the Council of Europe NGOs, two meetings of the EC DG Agri Rural Development Group, and two seminars organised by DG Regio in Brussels. She had also attended the ECOVAST Austria Small Towns’ Symposium, and the Europa Nostra UK event in Belfast. She had given papers on small town related topics at a conference in Mechelen, Belgium, the Europa Nostra Congress in Taormina, Sicily, and at a Rural Studies symposium in Co Galway, Ireland. These had all presented good opportunities to promote the ASSET Project. Other chances to do this had been taken in the UK.
Pam reported that, en route to Grieskirchen, she and Phil Turner had delivered the ECOVAST archives to Tellow, Germany, having first edited and listed the items. Angus Fowler had kindly arranged for storage in Tellow. She recorded thanks to Angus.
Pam advised that the ECOVAST website had recently had a significant update, including the insertion of new links to other organisations with whom ECOVAST works. She expressed concern that the translation of text was still a problem, as it was expensive to have this undertaken professionally. She thanked those members who had assisted with German translation, and appealed for more assistance with this work.
Pam thanked the members of the IC for their help and support during the year, and particularly, the President, Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic, and Vice-President, Phil Turner
c. Members of the International Committee
Valerie Carter asked that thanks be recorded to Tihana, Pam and all the IC members; she reminded the meeting that all their work was on a voluntary basis.
d. Working Groups & National Sections
(i) National Sections
Austria – Brigitte Macaria reported on behalf of Arthur Spiegler. She advised that the Vienna water symposium, scheduled for 2010, would now probably be deferred to a later date. Brigitte reported on a project with Czech and Austrian schools using the Landscape Good Practice Guide. Copies were offered of a paper on the criteria and features of small towns. A small workshop might be organised, if funding could be secured, in Serbia involving Hungarians, Romanians and Serbians together. The Mayor of Grieskirchen, Upper Austria had Albanian links, leading ECOVAST Austria to hope to do something in Albania.
Croatia – Valerija Kelemen-Pepeonik gave a report. The Section’s principal activity had been the Moscenice –conference and associated events. Valerija asked for feedback on these, and how the work might be taken forward. .Biserka Dumbovic Bilusic had prepared a publication. Valerija reminded those present that all the work was voluntary, both for this 2nd conference, which was a follow up to that in Samobor. ECOVAST Croatia was trying to move round regions; the next would be in Slavonia. The results of the conference would be published in early 2010, on CD as well as paper copies. Photos would also be welcome.
Germany – A report had been received from Angus Fowler about the recent activity of the Section. This year’s Section Assembly had been held in April in Schleswig Holstein. A recent event had been in Magdeburg. Olaf Linke provided more details of this new initiative. The German Section hoped to be similarly involved in future years.
Hungary – Dezso Kovacs reported that the Section’s member profile had changed; it used to be mainly architects, but now was primarily rural development practitioners. This had influenced their work. When the rural development programme for Hungary was approved, ECOVAST had become a member of the monitoring committee. Other activity has included the training of civil organisations when funds have been obtained for such initiatives. During the past 3 to 4 years winter training had been given for local civic leaders, including on how to get EU funds. Gabor, the Section Chairman, is involved in finding talent from the countryside (of young people). Some Section members are active in LEADER, which in Hungary is full of conflicts because it is “top down” although the philosophy is bottom up.
Macedonia – no report had been received. .
Poland – no report had been received. Attempts were being made to improve communication with this Section – Angus Fowler had been diligent in this, and Phil Turner would be taking it forward. .
Romania - Magdalena Banu had reported recently that the Section had been working on a number of projects, mainly with villages in the Prahova District. EU funding had been secured for two projects to renovate traditional monastery sites for which new uses had been identified. A further funding application is being made to enable work to take place on a manor, which will become a sociocultural centre. This work would be in a partnership with the local municipality in Brazi
Russia – Olga Sevan had advised of several areas of work by the Section, which had, since the last Assembly, celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Russian ECOVAST had also recently completed an interdisciplinary monograph “Socio-cultural development of the territories: problems and solutions” (600 pages, photos, drawings), for which Olga was the main Editor which it is hoped to publish in 2010. Two Section members had given papers on small towns’ themes at a recent ICOMOS event in Umbria, Italy; the “Scientific Symposium on Small Towns and Villages and on Risk Preparedness”. An expedition had been made in Archangel Region to study wooden churches and other buildings; reports would be prepared. An event on the “Culture of the Wood” – Wood in Culture” was planned for September 2010 in the Yaroslav Region
Slovakia - Eva Kralova’s report had advised that the Section had been engaged in considerable activity with small towns and villages, and worked in collaboration with organisations and Universities. There had been very good results of collaboration with the towns Poprad and Spisska Bela in the region of High Tatras. Further good practice was achieved with the town of Sahy, a small town on the Slovak-Hungarian border in the south of Slovakia, as well as with the village of Hervartov (east Slovakia, from 2008 on the UNESCO World Heritage List) and the village of Spania Dolina in middle Slovakia. In all these cases, the goal was to introduce the ECOVAST strategy into the practice of local development. This had been realised in collaboration with local associations, volunteers and students of several universities. The Section hoped to produce a book on small towns in the near future, “Small Towns and the Factors of their development - the development strategies and instruments based on the local natural and cultural heritage” which would draw on good practice in Slovakia, Poland, Italy and Slovenia, and were hoping that their Section initiatives would help to increase membership. Tihana advised that she wished to connect areas close to Croatia to develop projects of mutual interest, so ECOVAST Croatia might be able to help.
Landscape - on behalf of Arthur Spiegler, Brigitte Macaria commented further on the programme of work with schools. It was hoped to extend this to other areas. Another programme, CNETROP, covering regions of Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary could, with academic partners undertake a central project on landscape and small towns.
Rural Architecture – Rudiger Maul spoke about the group’s interest in ecological rural architecture. They wished to take this further in context with village development; many questions remain. It related to standards of eco buildings, but variations in the legal framework need to be harmonised. The aim was to accept and implement European standards. The group had met earlier in the day,with the Lovran Cultural Association presenting their traditional built heritage, and Davor Salopek showing his TV film from the early 1980s on the rural architecture of Istria.
e. ASSET Project
Phil Turner, Chairman of the Organising Group, reported on this item. He commented on various aspects of the project during the past year. Pam’s research had been an important activity, as had the giving of papers by Phil and Pam at conferences in Sicily, County Galway, Austria, and Moscenice; Phil would be giving another in Scotland within a few days. Pam had also talked about her research at an Organising Group meeting in Leeds in March. Following the failure of an INTERREG bid, because of the inability of the Italian Lead Partner to proceed, many of those involved had joined in an INTERREG Med (Mediterranean) focus project. Known as TOWNES, with 16 partners, ECOVAST Croatia and ASSET cannot be partners but are able to join in.
Further funding received from the Commission for Rural Communities was enabling the project to continue for a further three years at its present level.
f. Co-operation with other organisations
REPORTS FROM OTHER ORGANISATIONS
Pam Moore delivered reports (i) – (viii) and emphasised the importance of co-operation with other organisations. Report (ix) was given by Valerie Carter and (x) by Valerija Kelemen-Pepeonik.
(i) PREPARE – Partnership for Rural Europe – Pam advised that the ECOVAST President had attended the PREPARE Gathering in Slovenia and Croatia. At present, the organisation was undergoing change, with a new Co-ordinator being appointed. One of their principal projects in the near future would be associated with South East Europe.
(ii) CURE – Convention for Urban and Rural Europe – Pam commented that CURE had recently secured funding, following a bid which ECOVAST had supported. They now planned to organise seminars in Sweden and Poland as part of their forward programme.
(iii) CIVILSCAPE – Pam reported that she had taken part in one Board Meeting, by teleconference. ECOVAST would be represented at the forthcoming Annual Assembly in Florence by the President; Arthur Spiegler of Austria and several members of the Croatian Section would also be present. Reference had already been made to possible events in Austria and the UK which would involve both ECOVAST and Civilscape. Brigitte Macaria confirmed that Lower Austria was keen to host an event in Spring 2010.
(iv) EUROPEAN RURAL ALLIANCE – Pam reported that ECOVAST had decided not to renew its membership to ERA, as little progress was being made, and ECOVAST was receiving no information.
(v) APURE – Valerie Carter reported in her role as a Board Member. The next meeting on the Island of Reunion was problematic, because of its remoteness from mainland Europe. A Board meeting had taken place in Portugal in July, but at very short notice. Another problem was that, although APURE was supposed to operate in English and French, communication was usually in French and Portuguese – any English text came late or not at all. The Website was updated infrequently.
(vi) COUNCIL OF EUROPE – Pam advised that the Council of Europe NGOs gatherings had changed this year, with the Committee structure being particularly revised. The two Committees of which ECOVAST had been a member had been combined into one “Territorial Development Committee”. Pam put forward the view that it was too early to be dogmatic, but she felt unsure that the new structure was as appropriate for ECOVAST as had been the previous arrangements, as it was more urban focussed. Phil Turner advised of a greater emphasis on rights - human rights briefing legislation, citizen rights, animal rights, environmental rights etc. He expressed the hope that the remit might become broader. It was agreed that ECOAVST could only continue to monitor developments.
(vii) EUROPA NOSTRA – Pam reminded the meeting that a number of ECOVAST Members had attended the Europa Nostra Congress, with its small towns theme, in Taormina Sicily and the Europa Nostra UK events in Belfast. She had also been working to strengthen ties between the two organisations, with regular communication with her Europa Nostra equivalent.
(viii) RURAL DEVELOPMENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE – Pam commented that a new Chairman and Vice Chairmen had been appointed, and that the Committee had been revitalised as a result. The new Chairman, Gerard Peltre of R.E.D. was keen to ensure that the group was more effective, and already the indications were very promising. Particular topics of current concern to the group were the CAP post 2013 and food security.
(ix) PURPLE Valerie Carter reported on this organisation. It is a network of regions, with 11 countries represented, and more joining shortly. PURPLE was concerned with the rural areas around major cities. It tended to be dominated by the agricultural interest, as the areas tend to be managed by farmers or foresters. They meet every 6 months to exchange examples of good practice on topics of mutual interest. Valerie advised that when she retires in 2010 she would be willing to represent ECOVAST on PURPLE. This was welcomed. .
(x) Croatian Network for Rural Development - Valerija Kelemen-Pepeonik reported of links with ECOVAST Croatia; the network now has more than 10 organisations involved.
4. Treasurer's Report
Olaf Linke gave his report, pointing not that the accounts looked different from previously because new software changed their appearance. Over the year 2008, there had been a deficit of 572 euros. The Treasurer took the meeting through the details of the transactions. The greatest expense had been the GA and the second was translation, organised by Magdalena Banu. There had also been website expenses.
The Sections who had paid in subscriptions during 2009 were those from Hungary, Croatia, the UK and Germany. Valerie Carter asked whether this year ECOVAST would break even. Olaf advised that this would depend on GA costs and whether further translation costs were incurred.
The point was made that ECOVAST cannot continue to have a deficit. The International Committee would have to discuss this issue. Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic expressed concern that the 1,000 euros towards this GA had not yet arrived. She cited a lack of response from the Treasurer.
5. Auditors' Report
The report of the Auditors, Dipl-Ing Rudiger Maul and Prof Heinar Henckel, was read to the meeting. Phil Turner pointed out that the Auditors had only received the accounts in October; more time was needed for their work. It was necessary to stress to the Treasurer that they must be submitted earlier. The other recommendation made was that it might be better for the Auditors to be persons who speak more English, as many of the supporting documents are in this language, making it difficult for the present Auditors to reconcile them. It was agreed that the Auditors and Treasurer should look at and discuss the Auditors’ Report before the next International Committee Meeting in January 2010. Proposed Valerie Carter, seconded David Baker, carried nem.con
The acceptance of the accounts was proposed by Valerie Carter, seconded: Phil Turner, carried, nem con
6. Motions / Resolutions (to be received by Secretary General by 11 October)
No motions or resolutions had been received by the Secretary General by the due date.
7. Election of Hon. Auditors
The Auditors, Prof Heinar Henckel and Dipl-Ing Rudiger Maul, were elected for another year – Proposed Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic, seconded David Baker carried nem.con
8. Any other business
(i) Biennial Assembly 2010 – it was agreed that this would take place from 15 – 17 October on the Isle of Wight, England. Pam Moore gave a brief presentation of the proposal. .
Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic reported that during ECOVAST’s 25th Anniversary year, the death had occurred of Francis Noel Baker, who was ECOVAST’s Founder President. Despite poor health in his later years, he had retained his interest in and support for the organisation. A tribute to him has been placed on ECOVAST’s website, and an obituary will appear in the next Newsletter. Tihana summarised a tribute provided by Angus Fowler.
The meeting closed at 3.15pm with thanks to the organisers of the 2009 events, and to the interpreters.
Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic, President Pam Moore, Minutes Secretary
ANNEXE LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
MEMBERS : David Baker, Ralf Bokermann, Valerie Carter, Heinar Henckel, Jane Kearley, Trevor Kearley, Dezso Kovacs, Olaf Linke, Brigitte Macaria, Rudiger Maul, Pam Moore, Valerija Kelemen-Pepeonik, Davor Salopek, Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic, Phil Turner.
GUESTS : Nada Bakula, Ivan Jurij, Judit Selyem-Totu, Branka Sirinic.