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Wednesday, February 21, 2018, 

Let's focus on things that connect us, urge the mayors of Skopje and Athens (video)

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Athens, 9 February 2018 (MIA) - A message of cooperation, a message for building confidence between the citizens and an appeal to improve the climate between the two societies was conveyed Friday in Athens by the mayors of Skopje and Athens, Petre Silegov and Giorgos Kaminis.

Speaking at a news conference after their meeting, they said that cooperation was being launched as negotiations between the governments of Macedonia and Greece were under way.

Therefore, the mayors of the countries' capitals sent the message both to the citizens and to the governments urging them to keep negotiating and to solve problems allowing the citizens of Skopje and Athens to have normal communication, MIA reports from Athens.

"Being a new mayor, I have decided to open the city, I have already held meetings with several mayors from the region and I will keep on doing so because I strongly believe that the mayors of capitals are also one of the main messengers of a country. If the capitals cooperate well, then the governments can improve their cooperation," stated Mayor Silegov.

His Greek counterpart said that the governments in Athens and Skopje should focus on what connected the two countries and the two societies, instead of focusing on what was dividing them.

"We, the mayors of two capitals, agree that it is necessary to reach a fair and sustainable solution being aware of the advantages that come with it. We should play a role, a decisive and a constructive one, in this respect by bringing the cities and the citizens closer. However, we are not the ones that are negotiating... We expect our government to be pragmatic, to show genuine political will for compromise. We expect them to focus on the future and on what unites the two countries," Mayor Kaminis said adding that the thaw in negotiations between the countries and the dynamic of recent weeks had created a sense of optimism that differences diving the two countries could be settled.

The mayors of Skopje and Athens are kick-staring a cooperation that involves a return visit by the Athens Mayor to Skopje and is set to culminate with the signing of a memorandum of cooperation, MIA's correspondent from Athens reports.

Kaminis said he had been communicating with Silegov since winning the local elections in Macedonia in October. "Right away, we have expressed willingness to cooperate, the two capitals to cooperate way before the issue of the matters dividing the countries were raised," he said calling the Skopje Mayor 'a progressive man, a modern politician who understands the benefits of good neighborly relations.'

Шилегов и Камнинис

Today's meeting, he said, is the beginning of a closer cooperation between the two cities that would hopefully pave the way for better development of the region and regional stability.

"Having in mind that our citizens are facing the same challenges on day to day basis, by sharing experiences and enhancing cooperation, it will allow us to join forces in finding solutions in a bid to meet the modern needs of our citizens," Silegov said vowing he would invest all possible potentials together with the Greek mayor to create better living conditions and to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Skopje and Athens.

Mutual cooperation between the capitals, he added, requires opening of new opportunities for development and progress in the interest of the citizens.

In their meeting, the two mayors discussed cooperation in concrete areas, such as social policy, urban development, ways to address climate changes, digital strategy, the role of the citizens, etc.

Next week, Skopje will host a working group from the Municipality of Athens as part of a European programme in which the two cities participate.

Furthermore, Skopje Mayor Silegov opened the news conference speaking in Greek.

"Ladies and gentlemen, good day. Today for the first time I had a good meeting with my friend Giorgos," said Silegov in Greek much to the delight of the members of the public attending the press conference in Athens. ba/14:59

 

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