Athens Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko during a visit to Kyiv with a delegation of European cities’ mayors on Friday.
The mayoral visit aimed at signing an understanding to support the viable reconstruction of Ukrainian cities after the invasion of Russia. The agreement, signed in Zelensky’s presence, calls for specific actions and is an initiative of the Eurocities network, to which Athens belongs.
Besides the mayors of Athens and Kyiv, attending the event were the mayors of Florence, Helsinki (Juhana Vartiainen), Lyon (Grégory Doucet), Marseille (Benoît Payan), Oslo (Raymond Johansen), Riga (Mārtiņš Staķis), and Tirana (Erion Veliaj), as well as Nantes mayor André Sobczak, secretary general of Eurocities. Florence Mayor Dario Nardella, Eurocities president, headed the delegation.
Zelenskyy thanked them for support and said reconstruction should begin immediately rather than after the war.
He added that it is very difficult to provide humanitarian measures so that Ukrainians may return to normal life, as all available funding goes to defence, and thanked the mayors for their initiative.
Referring to the event, Bakoyannis likened Ukraine’s reconstruction to a Marathon race and said the entire democratic world should support this decisively.
Eurocities Dario Nardella said that the mayors wanted to convey the message of solidarity to the Ukrainian people and to support them toward a peaceful and democratic future.
The mayors, who also visited the cities of highest civilian casualties and greatest destruction by Russian occupation (Borodyanka, Bucha, and Irpin), will set up a task force including representatives from Eurocities, the Union of Ukrainian Cities, and the Office of the President of Ukraine, to meet regularly with all involved sides and supervise the agreement’s implementation.