Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort and Secretary of State for International Relations Pascal Smet have signed a memorandum of understanding with their colleagues of the metropolitan area of Istanbul. In the coming two years, both cities will examine how they can increase their cooperation in various policy fields. With this agreement, both cities express their ambition to work together on common metropolitan challenges.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed during a digital meeting. Rudi Vervoort and Pascal Smet signed the document in Brussels, while at the same time Ekrem Imamoğlu, the mayor of Istanbul, did the same in the Turkey. Ekrem Imamoğlu is mayor of the city since 2019.
“It is a pleasure to sign this cooperation agreement with the Mayor of Istanbul. In the past, our two cities already created close ties by cooperating on heritage and mobility. With this agreement, we will investigate together how we can further build a sustainable and inclusive city of the future, with themes such as smart cities, urban development and equal opportunities. I strongly believe that cities worldwide should cooperate to address metropolitan challenges.” says Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort.
With this document, both cities have agreed to explore the possibilities of long-term structural cooperation over the next two years. This approach reflects the Brussels Region’s international strategy of thoroughly analysing potential cooperation before making a long-term commitment. During these two years, Brussels and Istanbul will examine which information can be exchanged, which joint initiatives can be set up and how cooperation can be developed on various specific themes.
It is no coincidence that the memorandum is signed on 11 February, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a symbolic day to strengthen the international cooperation on equal opportunities between both cities. In addition, 2021 is an important year for Brussels relations with Istanbul: the economic representation of the Brussels Region in Istanbul celebrates its 20th anniversary.
“Metropolitan cities around the world need to cooperate and share knowledge even more. This will improve the life quality of all inhabitants. The pandemic has made the challenges for cities even greater. That is why the Brussels Region is actively pursuing qualitative partnerships with other cities around the world. Brussels and Istanbul both have a rich past and can therefore share many best practices in the field of historic preservation. The cities are also emotionally linked through the large and very active diaspora community in Brussels.”Secretary of State for International Relations Pascal Smet
Major topics with shared challenges include: heritage & historic preservation, urban development, smart cities, mobility, but also trade, public health, culture, environment, tourism, and scientific research.