Mayors of five central and Southern European cities met for an informal round table meeting in the Slovenian capital Ljubljana on Thursday (March 10) to discuss ongoing efforts in their respective municipalities towards achieving urban sustainability. (See below for photo availability.)
Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Jankovic hosted the event which was also attended by Mayor of Sofia, Bulgaria, Yordanka Fandakova, Mayor of Budapest Istvan Tarlos, Mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbas, and Sinisa Mali, the Mayor of Belgrade. Violeta Bulc, the European Commissioner for Mobility and Transport, from Slovenia, and Erion Veliaj, the mayor of Tirana, Albania, also addressed the attendees.
Some scattered notes:
Topbas on the refugee and migrant crisis: “You must keep your doors open”
In one of the more interesting exchanges, Topbas, who has served as Istanbul’s mayor since 2004, strayed briefly from the main theme to address in broader terms Europe’s most recent response to the ongoing refugee crisis which has effectively sealed entry into the EU at the Greek-Macedonian border.
“You must keep your doors open,” Topbas said, speaking through an interpreter. “Refugees and migrants will always find a way. If one is closed, another will be opened. We have to solve this problem. If not, the planet will be facing even bigger problems.”
“It is the cities where most (migrant-related) problems arise,” he said, adding that Istanbul is hosting more than 500,000 of the estimated 2.7 million refugees that Turkey claims are now in the country.