Mayors of Balkan countries, IMM President Ekrem İmamoğluHe met in Istanbul at the call of . The 'B40 Balkan Mayors Summit', organized by IMM for the first time in the history of the institution, started with the participation of the mayors of 11 cities from 24 countries. Making the opening speech of the summit, İmamoğlu said, “For decades, the word 'Balkans' or 'Balkanization' has been used in the international literature; It was used to describe ethnic divisions, border disputes and conflicts. However, we are here today to open a new page for our region.” Emphasizing that vital issues such as environmental problems, climate and refugee crises that the world is facing are global problems that go beyond the borders of the country, İmamoğlu said, "We are together today because we know that the solution to these major problems is possible through regional cooperation and solidarity."
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) convened the "B11 Balkan Mayors Summit", which will last 24 days between 29-30 November, bringing together the mayors of 2 cities from 40 countries. In alphabetical order; Mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis, Mayor of Belgrade Zoran Radojičić, Mayor of Durres Emiriana Sako, Mayor of Edirne Recep Gürkan, Mayor of Kardzhali Hasan Azis, Mayor of Kırklareli Mehmet Siyam sectoroğlu, Mayor of Kotor Vladimir Jokić, Mayor of Laktasi Miroslav Bojić, Mayor of Lesbos Stratis Kytelis, Mayor of Patras Konstantinos Peletidis, Mayor of Potgorica Ivan Vuković, Mayor of Sarayevo Benjamina Karić, Mayor of Skopje Danela Arsovska, Mayor of Split Ivica Puljak, Mayor of Tekirdağ Metropolitan Kadir Albayrak, Mayor of Thessaloniki Konstantinos Zervas, Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj and Trikala Mayor Dimitris Papastergiou attended.
“TOGETHER WE HAVE DREAMED FOR A LONG TIME”
IMM President, who made the opening speech of the summit Ekrem İmamoğlugreeted their guests in English. In the English part of his speech, İmamoğlu said, “This meeting is essentially a union that we have dreamed of for a long time. First of all, I would like to thank you all for sharing this dream with us in Istanbul today. Today, we are making a historic start together. If we succeed in maintaining this unity in the coming period, we can build an inspiring model not only for the Balkan geography, but also for the whole of Europe and the world. The common language of our meeting is English. But in this first meeting we held in Istanbul, we offer simultaneous translation infrastructure for almost every Balkan language, so that the president can speak in English and the president can speak in his native language if he wishes. I will also make the next part of my speech in my native language and in Turkish.”
“TOGETHER WE MEET TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE”
Commemorating those who lost their lives in the bus accident in Bulgaria last week, İmamoğlu said, “This tragic event was a reminder of how close we are in happiness and pain, even though there are borders between us. I offer my condolences to everyone who lost their relatives in Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Turkey. “Today, as 24 Balkan municipalities, we are together to create a new cooperation ground and develop a new vision for the future of our cities and our region,” said İmamoğlu.
“For decades, the word 'Balkans' or 'Balkanization' has been used in the international literature; It was used to describe ethnic divisions, border disputes and conflicts. However, we are here today to open a new page for our region. We came together to build a stronger cooperation and a better future together. Dear Mayors who attended this meeting, not only do they serve their cities today, but they also render an important service for the democratic future of the Balkans in Europe. Vital issues such as environmental and climate problems, refugee crisis, energy management and the aspiration for further democracy that we face as local governments are global issues that go beyond the borders of the country.
“THE SOLUTION OF BIG PROBLEMS IS POSSIBLE WITH REGIONAL COOPERATION”
Emphasizing that any problem in one city becomes a common issue for other cities as well, İmamoğlu said, “We are together today as we know that the solution to these major problems is possible through regional cooperation and solidarity. In this context, we are taking the first step to develop the 'B40 Balkan Cities Network', which we propose as a strong regional initiative and shape together with you.” Stating that he met with the Mayors of Athens and Tirana in the past days, İmamoğlu reminded that he made a visit to Sarajevo shortly after he took office. Saying, "I would like to meet with our other presidents with various opportunities and build bridges of friendship between our cities in the upcoming period," İmamoğlu said, "I believe that the B40 Network will be a very important platform for achieving common goals together, where all Balkan cities are represented on an equal and friendly level." ” he said.
“EU'S PLULAR DEMOCRACY MODEL IS AN IDEAL FOR ALL OF US”
İmamoğlu stated that the objectives of the “B40 Balkan Cities Network” are “to create better cooperation opportunities with the help of local governments; To contribute regionally to the European vision and values of the Balkans; to establish a better future together by transferring new ideas and good examples about urbanism; solidarity in the face of major and global challenges such as the refugee crisis and Covid-19; It aims to strengthen peace and brotherhood among our societies”. Saying, "It is obvious that Europe starts from Istanbul and the Balkans, just as the sun rising from the east is a simple fact," İmamoğlu said, "The multinational, multi-identity and pluralist democracy model represented by the European Union is an ideal for all of us. Human rights, the rule of law, a culture of compromise and freedoms are common goals for millions of people living in our cities. These common goals are the foundation of the B40 network. My belief is that; The 'B40 Network' that we started today will also be a network of peace and democracy among Balkan cities.
CALLS “JOIN THE B40” TO THE BALKAN CITIES
Emphasizing that the concepts of pluralism, gender equality, justice and rule of law are as important for local governments as they are for countries, İmamoğlu said, “I wholeheartedly believe in the synergy of the Balkans and the organizational skills that the Balkan cities will demonstrate. Because with its multicultural structure, diversity and dynamism of human resources, the Balkans region has taken on many playmaker roles. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, is also a valuable role model for us as an important Balkan boy.” Thanking all the people, institutions and organizations who contributed to the realization of the summit, İmamoğlu said, “I invite all Balkan municipalities to join the 'B40' so that this important platform we started today will become much stronger. I expect you to encourage both your friends from the mayor in your own countries and your colleagues in other countries to join this network.”
CITY TOUR TO THE MAYORS
After İmamoğlu's speech, the participating mayors took the floor in alphabetical order and shared their messages on areas where they could work together on common problems. At the summit, after the opening speeches, a panel on “Establishing a Common Platform between Balkan Cities” will be held. After the panel, the participating mayors, under the guidance of İmamoğlu, will visit the "Waste Incineration Plant and Biomethanization Facilities" in Kemerburgaz, which was opened recently, and experience the Eminönü-Alibeyköy Tram line. The summit will continue tomorrow with different activities.