Korosten mayor praises its Lithuanian twin city: “We have found true friends”

14 February 2023
After the sudden Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of last year, the city of Korosten had to break its twinning relations with a few cities in Siberia and Belarus. “They became our enemies”, declares the Mayor of Korosten. However, that was not the case of its Lithuainian twin Urkmerge that became a close ally of the Ukrainian city. 

In the framework of the “Bridges of Trust” project, the Ukrainian city of Korosten signed a cooperation agreement with the Lithuanian city of Ukmerge. The municipalities have already exchanged visits of their delegations: “There were more Ukrainian flags than the Lithuanian ones,” recalls Volodymyr Moskalenko, Mayor of the city based in the Zhytomyr region in the northwest of Ukraine. In an interview with the U-LEAD, he describes how the cooperation has helped many Ukrainians so far.

“Initially we asked for medicines and long-term food packages,” he says. However, Urkmerge keeps offering this kind of help even after the initial support. In addition to medicine and food, the Ukrainian city has also received generators, a large bus, and trench candles for the military. 

As their Baltic counterpart is advanced in the use of alternative energy, Moskalenko wonders about utilising their experience to help bring this kind of energy to Ukraine. Russian attacks are often directed towards the energy infrastructure, which shows the importance of the capacity of a municipality to address these kinds of needs on its own according to the Mayor.

He mentions the positive attitude of the Lithuanians towards Ukraine and its citizens. “Each of our conversations comes down to the question ‘how can we help you?’. We are impressed,” Moskalenko says. He assures that the cities intend to further develop their cultural cooperation and exchange: “We have found true friends.”

However, that wasn’t the case of some of Korosten’s former twin cities in Russia and Belarus. On the day of the Russian invasion in February, the city council had a session and immediately broke the twinning relations with Mozyr from Belarus and two cities from Siberia in Russia: “What twinning relations can we have with them if they are our enemies?” ponders Moskalenko

Though, he thinks that it is worth mentioning that the invasion was the catalyst for uniting national cultures in Ukraine, as Ukmerge isn’t the only city that has expressed the desire to become Korosten’s twin. “Bourges in France contacted us. They hosted 200 women and children from Korosten,” informs the Mayor while declaring that they are keeping in touch with them. They are also in contact with cities in Great Britain, China, and Japan. “But just contacts so far,” concludes Moskalenko

Source: U-LEAD
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