Closed borders, parked transport vehicles, and isolated people…These three phenomena which characterize our “new normal” days emerged with the Covid-19 pandemic have been testing our relations with others and loosening our ties. The situation is even more valid as far as the relationship between two sister cities is concerned. Having been on the frontline in the struggle against pandemic, local governments have focused all their attention on mitigating the negative impacts of Covid-19 process. In this environment, it is important to take an action with the available resources in order to sustain sister city relations. Marmara Municipalities Union (MMU) and the Center for the Development of Relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIGMEV) are organizing online “Turkey - Bosnia and Herzegovina Sister City Meetings” in order to support cities from Turkey to foster their relations with their sister cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Mayors of sister cities between Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, namely the Mayors of Lapseki - Jablanica Municipalities, Zeytinburnu - Ilidza Municipalities, Ümraniye - Jojnica Municipalities, Sultanbeyli - Jajce Municipalities, Pendik - Travnik Municipalities, Bahçelievler - Hadzici Municipalities, Bağcılar - Celic Municipalities, Altınova - Buzim Municipalities, and Gebze - Kakanj Municipalities came together at online meetings between 30 April and 28 May 2020. During the meetings, sister cities informed their counterparts regarding the recent situation in their country in general and in their municipalities in particular emerged with Covid-19. They shared information and experiences on how to tackle the challenges caused by the Covid-19 crisis. Besides, the potential collaboration areas and projects were addressed in the meetings.

Laspeki - Jablanica Meeting
In the meeting between Lapseki and Jablanica, Eyüp Yılmaz, the Mayor of Lapseki Municipality, and Salem Dedic, the Mayor of Jablanica Municipality, came together at the online platform. In their conversation, Dedic stressed that collaboration between two cities would be an effective tool to overcome the problems caused by the pandemic. Yılmaz, on the other hand, underlined the importance of two cities’ support for one another in these challenging times and stated that Lapseki Municipality will do their best to support Jablanica Municipality after Covid-19.
Zeytinburnu - Ilidza Meeting
The second meeting took place between Ömer Arısoy, the Mayor of Zeytinburnu Municipality, and Senaid Memic, the Mayor of Ilidza Municipality. In the meeting, Memic gave information on Ilizda’s social assistance activities targeting people in need, and said “What is important here is that we should provide all people seeking help from us with social assistance, regardless of the amount of aid.” Supporting the statement of Memic, Arısoy emphasized that Zeytinburnu Municipality adopts the same approach and strives to touch on the lives of people in need.
Ümraniye – Fojnica Meeting
As part of the online sister city meetings, İsmet Yıldırım, the Mayor of Ümraniye Municipality, met with Sabahudin Klisura, the Mayor of Fojnica Municipality. Yıldırım stated that Ümraniye Municipality is ready to give its support to Fojnica Municipality whenever needed. As a response to Yıldırım’s statement of solidarity, “What you have said is very meaningful, and we know that we have a sister in Ümraniye, which makes us feel safe.” said Klisura.
Sultanbeyli - Jajce Meeting
On 7 May 2020, Hüseyin Keskin, the Mayor of Sultanbeyli, and Edin Hozan, the Mayor of Jajce came together. In the meeting, Hozan underlined the importance of being in solidarity with Sultanbeyli Municipality and expressed his hope to sustain this sister city relationship. Keskin, on the other hand, stated that they hoped to collaborate with Jajce Municipality on concrete projects after Covid-19 in order to strengthen the ties between two municipalities. The mayors assigned their teams the task to work on potential collaboration areas.  
Pendik – Travnik Meeting
At the online meeting which gathered Ahmet Cin, the Mayor of Pendik Municipality and Admir Hadziemric, the Mayor of Travnik Municipality, Cin informed his counterpart on the current situation in Pendik and his experiences on the Covid-19 process, and stated “We see Travnik as our homeland.” Emphasizing that Travnik was once an Ottoman city, Hadziemric said that “What is important here is that our relationship does not only rely on material things. Our cooperation is essentially based on sentimental values. We would like to host you here in Travnik as soon as these difficult days pass.”
Bahçelievler – Hadzici Meeting
Hakan Bahadır, the Mayor Bahçelievler Municipality, and Hamdo Ejubovic, the Mayor of Hadzici Municipality met on 14 May 2020. After sharing their experience and knowledge on the Covid-19, Bahadır said that “Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina have always been in cooperation with one another due to their shared past. As Bahçelievler Municipality, we are very pleased to the collaborate with Hadzici Municipality within the boundaries of our legal authority.” Ejubovic thanked Bahadır for their collaboration, and stated that “We will become stronger if we continue our mutual collaboration after the pandemic.”
Bağcılar – Celic Meeting
On 20 May 2020, an online meeting was held between Lokman Çağırıcı, the Mayor of Bağcılar Municipality, and Sead Muminovic, the Mayor of Celic Municipality. At the meeting, Muminovic said “Relations which develop at the local level create more powerful ties. As sister cities, we have a duty to contribute not only to the relations between two municipalities, but also to the relations of two countries.” Upon the statement of Muminovic saying that he has been the mayor of Celic for 21 years, Çağırıcı said “I have also completed 21 years at Bağcılar Municipality. Continuing working together, we can celebrate our 25th anniversary together.” Both mayors agreed on making preparations for the potential cooperation areas, and on meeting again after the pandemic.
Altınova – Buzim Meeting
Metin Oral, the Mayor of Altınova Municipality, and Mersudin Nanic, the Mayor of Buzim Municipality, came together on 28 May 2020. At the meeting, mayors informed each other on the current situation in their regions with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic and discussed potential cooperation areas. Nanic relayed information to his counterpart on the project to build Aliya İzzetbegoviç square in Buzim and the municipality’s plant growing works. Oral emphasized that Altınova Municipality is open to collaborate with Buzim Municipality and that they will contact Buzim Municipality again after making preparations on the mentioned collaboration areas.
Gebze – Kakanj Meeting
The online meeting between Zinnur Büyükgöz, the Mayor of Gebze Municipality, and Aldin Sljivo, the Mayor of Kakanj Municipality was, at the same time, the first meeting between the mayors of the two sister cities. Sljivo expressed his appreciation by saying that “We didn’t have a chance to meet before. It is a pleasure for me to meet our sister city’s mayor amid the pandemic.” Büyükgöz responded “We will start to work on developing our social and cultural ties first and later on, setting our roadmap. I would like to thank the mayor for his kind kick-off.”. Two mayors agreed to visit each other in person after the pandemic and work on potential collaboration areas.


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