The Sixth International LEADER/CLLD conference brought together experts from 12 countries

Within the period 22 – 24 October 2019, the 6th International conference on LEADER/Community-led Local Development approach was held at the Katarino Hotel in the town of Razlog, Bulgaria. The prestigious forum, organized annually by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forests, was inaugurated by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forests and the head of the Managing Authority of the Rural Development Program, Dr Lozana Vassileva, and gathered in one place leading experts involved in the implementation of the CLLD approach from 12 countries. This year the International conference was dedicated to the cooperation under LEADER /CLLD approach with a tagline "Cooperation - a tool for promoting local development".

The main part of the conference was concentrated on October 23, when the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Forests Mrs. Desislava Taneva and the Executive Director of the State Fund for Agriculture – Paying Agency Mr. Vasil Grudev joined the forum. In addition to the official greetings to the participants in the forum, they also announced the readiness of the institutions to overcome the difficulties encountered in the implementation of the CLLD approach in recent months. Minister Taneva and the Executive Director of Paying Agency answered questions from the audience, and expressed their full support for the implementation of the LEADER/CLLD approach in Bulgaria and the strengthening of its significance as a local development tool in the next programming period.

Eighteen presentations were presented at the International conference providing information about the current implementation and the future of the LEADER/CLLD approach, with the focus on the opportunities for LAG cooperation. Many examples of successful projects were presented and a number of new opportunities for partnerships between local action groups were proposed. During the International conference a partnership agreement for a transnational project, funded under the LEADER/CLLD approach, between LAGs from Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Moldova was signed. The project aims preservation of traditions and promotion of different cheeses from the Balkans and the methods for their production. During the international conference, a number of meetings were held between the LAGs from the participating countries, and as a result, many cooperation projects are expected to be developed.

As part of the cultural program during the conference, an exhibition and tasting of local products produced in LAG territories from three countries - Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey - was organized.

On the third day of the forum, visits to the LEADER/CLLD projects and local cultural and historical sites on the territory of the LAG Razlog were organized.

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