19 March Friday

A “Letter of Intent” signed between Istanbul and Athens

İmamoğlu: “Dialogue and amity never fail.” Bakoyannis: “Now, there is a new future.”

The mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem İmamoğlu, and the mayor of Athens, Kostas Bakoyannis, signed a “Letter of Intent” between their cities. Expressing that dialogue and amity never fail, İmamoğlu said, “Everyone benefits from common sense and good practices of democracy. Athens and Istanbul share many commonalities rather than differences, especially in social and cultural spheres.”

Highlighting this fact is vital to reaching a consensus between our cities, said Bakoyannis, “Because now, there is a new future.”

SARAÇHANE – SÜLEYMANİYE – SULTANAHMET – ÇATLADIKAPI – HALİÇ - DOLAPDERE / İSTANBUL

The mayor of Istanbul Ekrem İmamoğlu hosted the mayor of Athens Kostas Bakoyannis in Istanbul. Early in the morning, İmamoğlu and Bakoyannis met with Patriarch Bartholomeos of the Phanar Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. Hosting the two mayors in his office, Bartholomeos said, “We are delighted to see you and your colleague in our patriarchate. We have known and liked Your Excellency for years and have appreciated your work. All of us would like to pass the bridge of amity you set up with your colleague. I hope your visit will greatly contribute to a future where two countries, two peoples and two cities, will have more amicable relationships. We are grateful for all you have done, for all of your help.”

“WE HOPE EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES”

“It’s an honor to host my dear friend Kostas, the mayor of Athens here,” İmamoğlu said. “We have the great honor to start the day by the presence of His Holiness as his guests. We will experience a joyful Istanbul-Athens day. We will have the pleasure to travel and enjoy the most beautiful places around Istanbul. We aim to build the bridge of peace, filled with emotions as His Holiness mentioned, between Istanbul and Athens. This is a tremendous pleasure for us. I am sure responsibilities emanating from the historical ties of Athens and Istanbul will be fulfilled between the two cities. This will be a great day, a great start. It is our hope the relations between the two cities, the two countries and two peoples, will always be based on amity and mutual trust. Bakoyannis expressed that he was pleased about the atmosphere of dialogue.

SIGNATURE CONCERNING THE BRIDGE OF AMITY

İmamoğlu hosted Bakoyannis in his office at Saraçhane in the afternoon. After a private meeting, the two mayors proceeded with the press meeting to sign the “Letter of Intent” between Istanbul and Athens. Expressing that they came together to create a valuable bridge of amity between Istanbul and Athens, İmamoğlu said: “We, the mayors of Athens and Istanbul, intend to broaden our domain of joint work. We will exchange ideas about environmental problems that threaten our cities, managing migration, governing cities, and, preparing for earthquakes. And if need be, develop initiatives that would serve as examples to other municipalities.”

İMAMOĞLU: “DIALOGUE AND AMITY NEVER FAIL”

Expressing that dialogue and amity never fail, İmamoğlu said, “Everyone benefits from common sense and good practices of democracy. Athens and Istanbul share a lot of commonalities rather than differences, especially in social and cultural spheres. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express that we are very much pleased to see that the “Turkey-Greece Direct Dialogue Process” restarted with the last meeting in Athens. I am sure that my friend Kostas agrees. It has pleased all of us to see the dialogue between our countries restarted.”

İMAMOĞLU GAVE THE EXAMPLE OF ATATÜRK AND VENIZELOS

“Historically speaking, Turkey and Greece have mutually benefited from dialogue and solidarity,” İmamoğlu said. “Our countries gained economic and strategic benefits by cooperation, and this has uplifted the mood of the neighboring region as well, especially that of Europe. We should never forget that Turkey is part of Europe as well as Europe is part of Turkey. Highlighting that the friendship and solidarity between Atatürk and Venizelos should serve as examples for today, İmamoğlu noted: “That was an extraordinary attitude, an exceptional period of cooperation. Taking lessons from bitter experiences, these two leaders showed great leadership to create peace and fraternity between the two countries. This is the heritage upon which we must reflect and benefit from. I would like to reiterate that the most important principle that guides us in this respect is the principle “Peace at home, peace in the world,” of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. That is the principle we follow in our foreign relations. The fact that my dear friend Kostas is with us here in Istanbul and that we are kicking off this important process together makes me happy. Celebrating this with my dear friend Kostas, I would like to share that we agreed to take the second step. We will share the areas of cooperation between the two cities as they become more concrete.”

BAKOYANNIS: “WE HAVE LAID THE FOUNDATIONS OF OUR FRIENDSHIP FOR THE FUTURE”

Speaking after İmamoğlu, Bakoyannis started by saying, “First of all, I would like to thank my friend mayor İmamoğlu for his invitation and the bridge established here.” Saying that he had a realistic discussion with İmamoğlu, Bakoyannis commented, “We have laid the foundations of our friendship for the future. Turkey and Greece are already very close in geographical terms. There are as many uniting matters between the two countries as separate ones. When two peoples wish to do something, governments can also apply that. We have a mutual agreement on that matter. What cities have in common is their uniting nature. Of course, we do not conduct foreign policy. We also have bilateral talks. Our wish is to work together and cooperate so that the foundations of the bridge of communication and amity that will be established will be strong. Maybe this journey will be long, and it could be a hard one as well. But we have taken necessary precautions”.

BAKOYANNIS: “WE CAN ACCESS OUR PEOPLE WITHOUT GETTING INTO POLITICS”

Summarizing their municipalism approach as “close to people and democratic,” Bakoyannis said, “As municipalities, we can convey what people want more easily and bring people’s wishes for Istanbul and Athens onto the agenda. We both promise tranquility, security, peace, and a better future, working environment, and life. Because we can touch upon our peoples without getting entangled in politics at all. Unfortunately, these matters are affected by problems between the two countries from time to time, for the purposes of other persons. We exchanged opinions for cooperation, especially in the fields of health, climate change, IT, and public transportation. This power also exists between these two cities. Both of our historical cities are emerging from the pandemic wounded. We both aim to sustain our cities, transforming them into the shining stars of the world again. We hope to work in cooperation for this and to continue our close and long-lasting relations.”

BAKOYANNIS: “THERE IS A NEW FUTURE NOW”

Bakoyannis began his speech by saying, “Athenians will always visit Istanbul,” and continued his remarks, “The Bosphorus, Byzantine City Walls, Fener… And Istanbulites can visit Athens to see the Acropolis, museums and archeological sites. It is very important to us that both cities are in agreement about this. Because there is a new future now. Life is changing. My dear friend Ekrem and I have taken a crucial step today. Great journeys begin like this. Let’s have the next one in Athens. I would be pleased to host you there, just as you have hosted us here.” Both Mayors signed the Letter of Intent between Istanbul and Athens after concluding their remarks.

ISTANBUL’S LANDMARKS VISITED

Following the signing ceremony, İmamoğlu accompanied Bakoyannis during a tour of Istanbul’s landmarks such as the Suleymaniye Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and Bucoleon Palace, with the guidance of Mahir Polat, Deputy Secretary-General of IMM. Experiencing the Golden Horn via a boat tour, İmamoğlu and Bakoyannis reached the final stop in their itinerary, the Pilevneli Gallery, with the world-famous media artist Refik Anadol’s “Machine Memoirs: Space” exhibition, which pushes the boundaries of imagination.

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