Mayors Gather in Ukraine to Support Democracy


Mayors of Prague, Warsaw, Bratislava and Budapest have responded to the invitation of Vitali Klitschko, the Mayor of Kyiv, and attended a joint meeting in the Ukrainian capital on behalf of the Pact of Free Cities. The main focus of the visit was on deepening inter-city cooperation in humanitarian aid, supporting refugees, post-war reconstruction in Ukrainian cities and strengthening the security and crisis preparedness of the participating capitals.

During the joint meeting with the Mayors, Vitali Klitschko spoke in particular about the state of critical infrastructure in Kyiv, the functionality of which is necessary to keep the population in the city. Russia, he said, is mainly targeting civilian targets in its terrorist attacks on Kyiv. These attacks have, among other things, caused a complete power outage for 12 hours and are now threatening to damage the water supply infrastructure during the winter months. Klitschko went on to say that despite the damage in the city, he remains optimistic that Ukrainians will prevail in defending their country.

The Mayors of Prague (Zdenek Hrib) and Warsaw (Rafal Trzaskowski) had already visited Kyiv on February 15, 2022, nine days before the Russian invasion. At that time, they expressed their support and readiness to help Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities to Mayor Klitschko. In the name of the Pact of Free Cities, they also offered Kyiv membership in the global network of progressive cities determined to stand up against nationalistic populism. Vitali Klitschko accepted this membership and Kyiv joined the Pact of Free Cities last September during the Prague Summit of Cities. This partnership allows for effective communication and unique coordination of assistance to Ukraine at the international intercity level.

"Together with other Mayors, we are now looking for ways to leverage the potential of our cities in the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine. Last but not least, Mayor Klitschko and security experts from Kyiv are sharing their invaluable experience in managing a metropolis hit by multiple crises. From Kyiv, we can all learn how to prepare for similar terrorist attacks on critical civilian infrastructure. I appreciate the cooperation with the Mayor of Kyiv, but also Warsaw, Budapest and Bratislava are working very well," says the Mayor of Prague Zdenek Hrib.

Since the beginning of the Russian war in Ukraine, the V4 capitals have been among the strongest supporters of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. Since last February, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest and Bratislava alone have received more than half a million people fleeing the war in Ukraine and have sent significant humanitarian aid to Ukrainian cities. Following the meeting with Mayor Kitschko, Warsaw has proposed a donation of 60 metro carriages to the Ukrainian capital, and Bratislava offered further 25 buses.

In Kyiv, the Mayors have visited sites damaged by Russian aggression and the heavily affected neighbouring town of Bucha. There, along with Bucha's Mayor, the delagation paid its respects to both the local inhabitants and the soldiers, who have been killed during the Russian attacks. consequently, the Mayors met with Yevhen Perebyinis, the Deputy Foreign Minister and former Ukrainian Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and Radek Matula, Czech Ambassador to Ukraine. They also paid a visit to places where support is provided to people affected by the war, such as a hospital for wounded soldiers from the front, or a rehabilitation centre for children with disabilities, and warming rooms, which will be helped by heaters that Prague recently donated to Kyiv.

Last but not least, the V4 Mayors met with Oleksandr Kamyshin, the CEO of state-owned Ukrainian Railways. The railways are proving absolutely essential during the war, both for transporting passengers within and out of Ukraine, and for delivering humanitarian help to the affected areas. It therefore comes as no suprise, that the railway route was the chosen mode of transit in and out of Ukraine for the Mayors and their team.

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