Emphasis on solidarity and cooperation stood out in the conference, which brought the mayors together on the 25th anniversary of the Barcelona process initiated for regional cooperation.
Within the scope of the Barcelona +25 program, which brings together managers, experts and non-governmental organizations to make the region's future more sustainable, inclusive and substantive, Yousef Shawarbeh, the Mayor of Amman; Ada Colau, the Mayor of Barcelona; Dario Nardella, the Mayor of Florence and Souad Abderrahim , the Mayor of Tunis met alongside of the Mayor of İzmir.
Speaking at the conference on immigration and social diversity, Mayor Soyer said, “We encourage and grow biological and social diversity in İzmir. Fortunately, diversity is historically present in the Mediterranean, and as the history of İzmir shows us, the city's multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual era has offered more opportunities and prosperity to its people. Different cultures have managed to live together and develop in harmony by inspiring each other. This is an experience that helps in overcoming polarization, discrimination and marginalization in today's world. Municipalities should perceive diversity as a source of prosperity when formulating their policies. If they do this and design their services in a way that encourages diversity, they can present a management that includes the needs and abilities of every individual within their cities."
İzmir to host the Summit on Living Together
Stating that the gap between potential opportunities and the challenges of diversity needs to be targeted, Mayor Soyer explained, “We have to make concrete progress in our works on these topics. Therefore, in cooperation with the Municipality of Montreal, we will host the International Mayors Summit on Living Together in İzmir. By working together, we want to create solutions for complex challenges around social inclusion. Migration will also be one of the priority issues we will work on at the summit."
"In İzmir, we learned a great deal from the pandemic"
Speaking about COVID-19, Mayor Soyer emphasized that this epidemic seriously threatens sustainable development and said, “The extraordinary economic and social effects of the epidemic hit the poorest and most vulnerable part of the population hardest. We have to strive to create more cohesive municipalities in terms of tackling these threats that have no boundaries in the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. We learned a great deal from the pandemic in İzmir. The threats required resources beyond our capacity. Therefore, we have decided to change the regular municipal management model. And İzmir has changed to the "crisis municipalism" model. Within the scope of crisis municipalism management, first, we defined a new process for the municipality's operations and services. Second, we created new for decision-making, executive and advisory authorities. And third, we strengthened the solidarity in the city ”.
"We aim to strengthen the bond between the people of İzmir and the whole Mediterranean"
Mayor Soyer stated that, with a similar approach, the Euro-Mediterranean partnership could be effective in making the Mediterranean more resolute and added: “We need an innovative institutional renewal for a more effective local, national and international cooperation in the region. Our second job within partnership should be to give cities greater roles in the decision-making, executive and advisory bodies of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The third thing to do is that we need to increase solidarity between our cities. We are all interconnected, we must never forget this fact. Only together we can make the Mediterranean crises-proof in the future. We encourage the Mediterranean culture in İzmir. We aim to strengthen the bond between the people of İzmir and the Mediterranean. The municipality has a body called the Mediterranean Academy that works on culture, history and the nature of the region. We recently took one more step and established the İzmir Center for Mediterranean Languages."
Emphasizing the importance of culture, Mayor Soyer completed his speech as follows: “Culture inspires creativity, innovation, solidarity and cooperation which all are extremely important aspects in our fight against the global epidemic and other crises. İzmir will host the UCGL Culture Summit in 2021. This event could be an opportunity to transform culture into a catalyst to increase interaction and solidarity among the Mediterraneans."