Together with Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, 10 more cities from the same country were included in the 'B40 Balkan Cities Network'. Speaking at the signing ceremony held in Sofia, IMM President Ekrem İmamoğlu“To meet you at the same table here today is extremely important for the common future of our cities. Because in many parts of the world, different societies can achieve prosperity through regional cooperation. In this respect, the B40 Network's motto is simple and clear: Better collaboration, better future.” The signatory mayors celebrated their cooperation with the Turkish delight served by İmamoğlu. With the signatures, the number of B40 member Balkan cities became 39.
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IMM) President Ekrem İmamoğlu, arrived in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, to discuss the formation of the “B40 Balkan Cities Network”. İmamoğlu's first address in the city was the Turkish Embassy in Sofia. İmamoğlu met with Ambassador Aylin Eightkök and after his visit, he went to Sofia Municipality. Sofia Mayor Yordanka Assenova Fandakova, who hosted İmamoğlu in her office, thanked the Mayor of İBB for her visit. The two Presidents agreed to increase cooperation between their cities.
MAYORS OF 11 CITIES ATTENDED THE MEETING
İmamoğlu's last event in Sofia was the “B40 meeting”. The meeting, in which the decision of 9 Bulgarian cities to join the network, together with Sofia, was signed, was held at the Grand Hotel Millennium Hotel. To the meeting, together with İmamoğlu and Fandakova; Mayor of Kardzhali Hasan Azis, Mayor of Burgas Dimitar Nikolov, Mayor of Plovdiv Zdravko Dimitrov, Mayor of Veliko Tarnovo Daniel Panov, Mayor of Dimitrovgrad Ivo Dimov, Mayor of Troyan Donka Mihaylova, Mayor of Karlovo Emil Kabaivanov, Mayor of Karnobat Georgi Dimitrov, Rakovski Mayor Pavel Gudzherov and Sliven Mayor Stefan Radev attended.
“KIRCAALİ, FOUNDING MEMBER OF B40”
İmamoğlu started his speech at the meeting with the words, “As the founder and term president of the B40 Balkan Cities Network, which we have built to strengthen solidarity and cooperation in our region, our meeting in Sofia is an expression of the importance we attach to Bulgaria and our cooperation with Bulgarian cities.” Reminding that the Bulgarian city of Kardzhali is also a founding member of the B40 Network, İmamoğlu said, “To meet you at the same table here today is extremely important for the common future of our cities. Because in many parts of the world, different societies can achieve prosperity through regional cooperation. In this respect, the motto of the B40 Network is simple and clear: 'Better collaboration, better future'. he said. Reminding that they laid the foundations of the B40 with the “Balkan Cities Mayors Summit” held in Istanbul in November 2021, İmamoğlu said:
“ISTANBUL, ATHENS, SOFIA'S PROBLEMS ARE NO DIFFERENT”
“11 mayors from 23 countries, with a strong will, unanimously decided to establish this network that will start a new cooperation process between Balkan cities. Because as Balkan cities, although we share similar geography and cultural values, we did not have a mechanism to increase economic, technological and cultural cooperation between us. However, from an administrative point of view, the problems of Istanbul and, for example, Sofia, Belgrade or Athens are not that different. Until the B40 Network is established, it will evaluate the common problems of all of us such as climate crisis, migration, fight against urban poverty, income injustice, local democracy or digital transformation in one pot; There was no mechanism to produce innovative solution proposals by transferring technology and experience.”
“WE STARTED WITH 23 CITIES, WE REACHED 39”
Emphasizing that the B40 was established as a platform where Balkan cities will be represented equally and will work with the principles of achieving common goals with a common mind, İmamoğlu said, “We are still at the very beginning of everything. Together, we will achieve significant results in the short and medium term. And we will go a long way together. But I believe that we have made an important start towards building partnerships and building a common future for the benefit of our member cities. Since the day we were founded, we have been taking steps to develop regional cooperation and expand this platform, which we started with 23 cities. Today, we are reaching 39 cities with your participation.” Emphasizing that he believes that the B40 will become much stronger and regional cooperation opportunities will develop with new participations, İmamoğlu said, “We decided on the constitution of the B40 Network by signing a joint manifesto with the mayor who attended the Istanbul Summit last November. According to this; each member will have equal rights, the term presidency will be rotating and will be for 1 year. The responsibility and burden of the permanent secretariat will be in Istanbul”.
“WE NEED A TRANSFORMATION RESISTANT TO CLIMATE CHANGE”
Expressing that they formed 40 separate working groups within the B4 following the Istanbul meeting, İmamoğlu said; He listed them as “Local Climate Action”, “Local Democracy and Migration”, “Smart Cities and Digital Transformation” and “Local Economic Cooperation”. Speaking with a focus on climate change, İmamoğlu said, “The disasters we have experienced due to climate change show that we need a transformation in our cities that is compatible with nature and resistant to climate change. Unfortunately, the climate issue knows no national boundaries, nationalities or identity. It is true that; In the climate crisis, our cities are both perpetrators and victims. Each of us, who is also responsible for the ecological safety of our citizens living in our cities, has to take permanent and transformative steps in the field of environment.
“WE WILL SHARE THE EXPERIENCES OF ISTANBUL WITH OUR MEMBERS”
Pointing out that they are open to all possible collaborations as İBB and they are ready to offer support, İmamoğlu said, “We will share Istanbul's experience in these matters with our members. Our technical teams will visit all our member cities that want to be involved in these projects and will make every effort, including on-site work. Because we believe in the constructive and transformative power of cooperation. I am sure you too have this belief. With this belief and together with you, we can realize regional transformations, especially environmental transformation, waste management and green energy. Undoubtedly, this transformation should be a green transformation towards harmonization with the 'European Green Deal' announced by the European Union in 2019. "By working together in technical and financial fields, the European Union and the B40 Network can transform the future of our planet and our cities."
FIRST SIGNATURE THEN DELIGHT
After İmamoğlu, all participating mayors made speeches. After the speeches, a text of participation in B9 was signed between İmamoğlu, Fandakova and the mayors of 40 Bulgarian cities. After the signatures, İmamoğlu offered Turkish delight to all the presidents.