Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis pledged to work towards ensuring active collaboration on projects that will reinforce the resilience of cities and make these accessible and inclusive during this week’s B40 Balkan Cities Network Conference which took place in the Greek capital.
Athens took over the presidency of the B40 Balkan Cities Network from Istanbul, setting out the priorities for 2023 during the two-day Athens Mayors Summit.
Dozens of mayors from Balkan countries and local government officials joined the summit and worked together to identify challenges, share insight and agree on common actions and solutions.
Among others, the Athens presidency will focus on:
- addressing the climate crisis;
- accelerating digital transformation to create smarter cities;
- supporting justice, inclusivity, and tolerant societies through relevant policies;
- promoting economic cooperation and development;
- strengthening democratic ideals of local governance; and
- further enhancing cultural ties among participating B40 cities.
“Together we have strengthened the foundations of our broader vision: cooperation in the Balkans, mutual trust and shared regional development… we’ve laid the foundation stone for a tomorrow that is better, unified, cooperative, a tomorrow for everyone,” said Bakoyannis addressing the summit.
In efforts to ensure cohesion and effectiveness of B40 strategies and actions, Bakoyannis said incentives would be given to members for their active participation.
To achieve goals set, Bakoyannis went on to stress the importance of fostering working relationships with other networks, organizations and European institutions such as the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the C40 Network and Eurocities.
“These partnerships are important because they allow us to operate with a bigger scope, with new financial tools, investments that have a common denominator. We will increase the value, efficiency and effectiveness of our network. And above all, we will give an institutional dimension to cooperation and partnerships in the Balkans,” he said.
Closing, Bakoyannis invited delegates to consider Athens as their “second home”, adding that with the Balkan cities network as a vehicle and cooperation as the “fuel”, the aim is to ensure peace and security and to cultivate democracy in the Southeastern Continental Europe creating the “Balkans that we want.”