Around 70 mayors from Balkan countries meet in Athens
Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis, in the opening speech of the summit, stated that over 100 bilateral meetings are planned between the mayors within the scope of the B40 Balkan Cities Network Athens Summit saying "The most important element is an open and productive dialogue between neighbors."
Ekrem İmamoğlu, the Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, who attended the summit, stated in his speech that he preferred the cooperation of civilizations instead of the clash of civilizations and said, "For me, the Balkans is the center of cooperation, just as Istanbul, which is located at the very center of the world geographically, is the city of meetings."
Stating that he sees a great global potential and cooperation future when he looks at the Balkan geography, İmamoğlu said, "I see a region that is integrated not only with the European Union (EU), but also with the whole world, which can breathe together with the whole world."
Pointing out the differences and diversity within the Balkan countries, "Unity is strength." İmamoğlu said
Referring to the burning of the Holy Quran in Sweden, İmamoğlu said, "We must condemn such provocative attempts together and strongly because such populist and extreme approaches have nothing to do with freedom and democracy. On the contrary, such attempts are among the people. They are hate crimes that can sow the seeds of enmity and disrupt peace and tranquility."
The summit is expected to continue tomorrow.