Volgograd welcomed the Assembly of the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities
In 2018, Volgograd became the platform for the 29th General Assembly of the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities (IAPMC), which brought together 16 cities from 14 countries.
On October 30, a meeting of the IAPMC Executive Board took place, which, as its participants noted with satisfaction, for the first time in several years had the attendance rate of 100%. All 10 cities-members of the Board (these are, currently, Abidjan, Morfu, Plonsk, Sarajevo, Orestiada, Zurrieq, Kumanovo, Kragujevac, Slovenj Gradec and Volgograd) delegated their representatives to this event and gathered to discuss the last year’s organizational documents and work out their further agenda.
The meeting began with the welcoming addresses from the current President of the IAPMC, Vincent N'cho Kouaoh, and the Chair of Volgograd City Duma, Andrey Kosolapov. After that, the coordinating role went to the last year’s President, Victor Hadjiavraam, and the Deputy General Secretary, Dušan Stojanovič.
They emphasized that the main task of the General Assembly participants was to bring the representatives of different countries together into a dialogue in the name of strengthening peace throughout the world. Andrey Kosolapov also expressed his conviction that the days spent in Volgograd would forever remain in the memory of foreign guests.
The Executive Bureau discussed the key issues of organizing and holding the 29th IAPMC General Assembly. In particular, this included the methods of attracting new members, the promotion of IAPMC’s most meaningful projects and the adoption of the resolution, which was later supported by the participants of the 5th International Forum of People’s Diplomacy “Dialogue on the Volga: Peace and Mutual Understanding in the 21st Century”.
The General Assembly began its work on October 31, when the previously mentioned attendants were joined by Rostock, Messolonghi, Kyrenia, Yokohama, Coventry and the Cypriot city of Lefkoniko – a new candidate for joining the IAPMC. In addition to the mandatory General Session, the association members had an open discussion to share their experience with the participants of the People’s Diplomacy Forum: the IAPMC representatives were the key speakers in the panel discussion “Cities as Peace Messengers: Municipal Peacemaking Practices in the 21st Century”.
The moderator of the platform was the Deputy Secretary General of the IAPMC Dušan Stojanovič. The speakers discussed a whole range of topical issues - “What is the role of municipalities in international relations today?”, “Can municipalities assist in resolving international conflicts?”, “What should cities do to achieve peace on Earth?”, “Can cities develop joint recommendations for the Foreign Ministries of their countries or for the United Nations?”
Despite their differing approaches to the themes in questions, the speakers were unanimous in one aspect - the role of urban diplomacy increases dramatically in such difficult political times as the ones that we see today. After all, it is often the only tool and opportunity for the preservation of interstate relations.
The panelists were the Vice-Governor of Abidjan Autonomous District, President of the International Association of Peace Messenger Cities Vincent N'cho Kouaoh (Côte d'Ivoire), the Mayor of Morphou Victor Hadjiavraam (Republic of Cyprus), the Deputy Leader of Coventry City Council Abdul Khan (UK), the Mayor of Rostock Roland Methling (Germany), the Chief Representative of the City of Yokohama Frankfurt Representative Office Takeshi Tamai (Japan), and the Chair of Volgograd City Council Andrey Kosolapov (Russia). One by one, they gave detailed reports about what kind of work their cities are carrying out to expand international relations, and called for the promotion of new joint initiatives to preserve peace.
“There are various differences between us, but I’m sure that all of us will remain human, and that we all want to live in peace,” said the representative of the British Coventry, Abdul Khan.
“Peace should become the main human right cemented by law,” concluded Dusan Stoyanovich.
On November 1, the General Assembly and the Forum moved to the platform of Volgograd State University, where the IAPMC members met at the round table “Improving a City – Enhancing the Quality of Life: Cities’ Development as a Peacemaking Process” moderated by the first vice-rector of VolSU, Professor Alla Kalinina. There, they delivered presentations about their cities and cited specific examples of inter-municipal initiatives carried out by Kragujevac, Coventry, Zurrieq, Sarajevo, Yokohama and Lefkoniko, the latter of which had been unanimously accepted to the IAPMC the day before. They were joined by experts from outside the Association: Professor Daniel Frolov (VolSU) with his report “The City of Old Industry: between Neo- and Post-Industrialization, Volgograd Experience” and a Coordinator of the “Uchim&Znaem” Project Office regional innovation platform Ivan Gusev (Moscow), who talked about social and educational initiatives that can improve the quality of life.
At the concluding meeting, which the General Assembly and the Forum participants all attended together, they re-read and adopted a resolution calling for an appeal to cities around the world to actively contribute to the process of strengthening peace – in accordance with the sustainable Development Goals designated by the UN.
Judging by the participants’ reviews, the 29th General Assembly was held on a truly high organizational level, and the IAPMC members firmly intend to keep up the standards. The next general gathering will be held in Sarajevo in the autumn of 2019.