Bilbao, 19 June 2023. This morning, the local authorities of Kremenchuk, Nikopol and Novomoskovsk met with the EUDEL Chairman, Gorka Urtaran and the association’s Managing Director, Mar Zabala, prior to the fact-finding visit by the Ukrainian delegation in the three Basque capitals this week. Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz are taking part in the European “Bridges of Trust” project, driven by the European Commission, through the U-LEAD programme, to support the rebuilding of the cities devastated during the Russian invasion.

The Ukrainian delegate is made up of the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Kremenchuk, Vitalii Maletskyi and Olga Usanova; the Deputy Mayor of Nikopol, Tetiana Obydenna; the Mayor of Novomoskovsk, Serhii Rieznik; and the manager of the Nikopol Vodokanal Water Consortium, Vitalii Dakov.

The municipal representatives are accompanied by the coordinators of the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC) and the Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), both of which are partner agencies of the initiative.

As he welcomed his counterparts, Chairman Gorka Urtaran expressed the Basque Municipalities’ solidarity with and steadfast commitment to the whole of people of Ukraine and to the local authorities that are protecting their citizens. “We believe in and support the “bridges of trust” between our respective peoples, convinced that the victory of the cities of Ukraine will also be the victory of European democracy and values. This cooperation project between municipalities is the very opposite of the confrontation between States; it symbolises the defence of our humanist values and principles: Human Rights, freedom, justice, equality, diversity, social cohesion, cooperation…”. Gorka Urtaran stressed the leading role of the municipalities when facing the challenges of environmental, economic and social sustainability: “The future of the planet lies in the towns and cities,” the Eudel Chairman pointed out.

The meeting at EUDEL was an opportunity to learn firsthand of the experience of the Ukrainian councillors who are working in a state of war to protect their local communities and recover basic services for the population, such as the supply of drinking water, energy supply, reconstructing buildings and amenities, health, education, etc.

The Association of Basque Municipalities shared the Basque good practices with the Ukrainian authorities; they explained the Basque Government’s self-government framework in institutional and economic-financial terms, thanks to which they enjoy an advanced local development and social cohesion model.

Following the reception, the delegation then divided into three groups for the “twinning” with each Basque capital. Novomoskovsk with Bilbao, Nikopol with Vitoria-Gasteiz and Kremenchuk with Donostia/San Sebastián. The fact-finding visit will continue until Friday 23 June.

EUDEL is one of the ten European associations selected to coordinate the project, in Eudel’s case in the Basque cities. Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz have committed to this groundbreaking initiative based on “City to City” cooperation. Through the municipal facilitators – the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium, AMVISA and Fomento San Sebastián -, they will provide technical support and expert advice to work together to design refurbishment and retrofitting infrastructure projects, along with the economic development and urban transformation, in the three cities devastated by the Russian invasion.

Related news item (ENG):

Fact-finding mission 19-23 June

After several online meetings, a delegation of local authorities from Novomoskovsk, Kremenchuk and Nikopol is in the Basque Country from 19 to 23 June to lay the foundation stone of their respective “bridges” with the three Basque capitals. The city councils Bilbao, Donostia/San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz are hosting host their Ukrainian counterparts, accompanied by representatives of the Association of Ukrainian Cities (AUC).

EUDEL is hosting host the opening and closing meetings on Monday 19 and Friday 23 June. On 20, 21 and 22 June, the Ukrainian delegation will divide into three groups. Each local authority will travel to their twinned Basque capital to hold bilateral meetings and work on the cooperation project in question.

The councils of the three capitals and the facilitators (CABB, AMVISA and Fomento San Sebastián) have designed their own programme of activities, which includes institutional meetings and visits to the cooperation project’s infrastructures, as well as to other iconic spaces and amenities of the city.