MMU Attended International Town Twinning Summit

Within the framework of “Turkey-EU Town Twinning Project” carried out by the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Directorate for EU Affairs, International Town Twinning Summit took place with the theme of “Sustainable Town Twinning” on 12-13 November 2020. Marmara Municipalities Union Secretary General M. Cemil Arslan moderated an online session at the summit.

At the opening session of the International Town Twinning Summit, the President of the Union of Municipalities of Turkey and the Mayor of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Fatma Şahin, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the Vice President of Committee of Regions Anders Knape, the Chairman of Local Administration Policies Council of Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Şükrü Karatepe, the Head of EU Delegation of the European Union to Turkey Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Director for EU Affairs Faruk Kaymakçı delivered a speech.

Fatma Şahin underlined that borders and location are no longer important, and that sister city relations are getting closer with digitalization. Şahin gave the message that "We need to build world peace, social justice, social peace and the new world together after the pandemic." Anders Knape who attended the session by sending a video message stated that sister city relations and city networks give us an opportunity to find solutions to common problems that we have faced.

Another speaker Şükrü Karatepe touched on the historicity of cities and city diplomacy. Karatepe emphasized that with the democratization of countries, cities are getting stronger and city diplomacy comes to the fore again. Referring to the current sister city relations, Karatepe stated that such relations should be established according to a certain harmony, otherwise the random relationships will not yield successful results. Nikolaus Meyer-Ladndrut emphasized the importance of getting into partnerships for the solution of common problems such as climate and migration, and of involving citizens into the process. The last speaker of the session Faruk Kaymakçı stated that the current project is very valuable in terms of showing that important achievements can be reached at the local level even if there are problems in high-level politics. Kaymakçı also added that “I hope we will increase the communication and cooperation between more cities. I believe that the cooperation at the local level will facilitate Turkey’s EU accession process and provide significant support to this process. "

The COVID-19 and Its Aftermath: International Networks for Local and Regional Diplomacy

In the first day of the summit, Marmara Municipalities Union (MMU) Secretary General M. Cemil Arslan moderated an online session titled “The COVID-19 and Its Aftermath: International Networks for Local and Regional Diplomacy”. At the session in which the role and the importance of the global network were addressed, the Mayor of Büyükçekmece Municipality and the Member of National Delegation to the Congress of Council of Europe Hasan Akgün, the Mayor of Cluj - Napoca and the Member of National Delegation to the Committee of Regions Emil Boc, and the Secretary General of Council of European Municipalities and Regions Frederic Vallier were speakers.

During the session, municipalities’ COVID-19 experiences were discussed. Hasan Akgün emphasized that informative meetings between sister cities are critical in managing this process better. Akgün added that thanks to the information provided by the Ministry of Health and the Scientific Committee, they are able to protect themselves and serve the citizens better. Pointing out that non-governmental organizations supported the local governments and citizens in this process, Akgün said that "During the pandemic, we have seen again how important non-governmental organizations are for social life."

Underlining the fact that COVID-19 spread everywhere in a short time, Emil Boc emphasized “We are all in the same boat." Boc stated that in order to reduce the damage of crises such as COVID-19, it is necessary to act together, share good practices and learn from each other. Stating that problems cannot be solved alone in case of disasters, Boc underlined the need for establishing strong cooperation at national and local levels.