Round table “United for Ukraine: Collaboration mechanisms of local and regional authorities
in war times” – Kyiv, Ukraine

Speech by Leendert VERBEEK (The Netherlands, SOC/G/PD), President of the Congress

Opening of the Round Table – Welcoming speech
6 July 2022, 14:00-14:15 CET

Participant ID: 219492

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Dear Mr Klitschko,

Dear Minister,

Dear colleagues,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a pleasure to address you today on behalf of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. We are glad to witness that the support and solidarity for Ukraine and Ukrainian people remain strong as we stand united, and we would like to congratulate Ukraine on having recently been granted the EU candidate status.

The Reconstruction Platform announced during the Recovery Conference held in Lugano during the last two days is an example that the joint efforts to rebuild Ukrainian communities are already coming to the fore.

Just a month ago, the Secretary General of the Congress, Andreas Kiefer, and I paid a visit to your country. On that occasion, Mayor Klitschko and I signed a joint declaration of the Congress and the Association of Ukrainian Cities.  In this declaration, we reaffirmed our commitment to ensure rapid and stable reconstruction of Ukrainian communities and the restoration of the full democratic functioning of local authorities, in line with the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

This roundtable builds on the resilience that characterises you, Ukrainian authorities and leaders, and your engagement for democratic values.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a violation of these values that are at the core of our democratic societies; an assault on freedom, sovereignty, and the rule of law.

Since the 24th of February, Ukrainian local and regional elected representatives have been mobilised to protect their citizens and communities, standing united in fierce defence of democratic and European values.

By remaining on the front line, protecting lives and rights of citizens, you, local and regional elected leaders, are a great source of inspiration for Europe and the world. We are impressed by your fortitude and determination.

I am convinced that the resistance that we admire today in Ukraine is grounded on the long-lasting work for embedding fundamental democratic values in local communities and empowering local authorities as fully fledged partners of a strong multilevel governance system.

The rebuilding and preservation of democracy is a daily battle, and we are determined to provide continued support with all our capacities and means, today and in the months to come.

This roundtable event is a great opportunity to discuss the challenges you face and to strengthen the co-operation between Ukrainian authorities and their ties with other European countries. We hope that the roundtable will give a momentum to further partnership-building and exchange of experiences and know-how.

This is also an opportunity to promote one of our success stories, the Cities4Cities platform, that already counts 150 registered local authorities and is attracting increased international attention day by day.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to conclude with a quote from Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General of the Council of Europe at the Lugano Conference: “Ukraine’s recovery – in its fullest sense – requires good governance and European values to underpin it.”

Identifying new and improving the existing co-operation mechanisms between local and regional authorities from Ukraine and other European countries is key to enlarging the scope of solidarity with Ukrainian municipalities, in fostering good local and regional governance and upholding the democratic values as the necessary foundation for the post-war renewal.

We shall act as one, united for and with Ukraine, in your cities, in your towns, in your leadership positions, with your people, with democracy.

United we will prevail.

I wish you all a fruitful meeting and discussion. Thank you.