‘Stroke City’ shares its experiences of peace-building and transition from conflict in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica
By Forum for Cities in Transition
24 May 2010
Political and civil society representatives from Derry-Londonderry are taking part in an exciting conference this week in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica which brings together representatives from ten cities around the world to share their experiences of post-conflict transition.
This important conference brings together mayors, councillors, police chiefs, business, media and civil society representatives to discuss the challenges and successes of municipal administration in cities in transition from conflict.
The Derry-Londonderry delegates are talking about how their municipal services function and how they can improve them discussing issues such as housing, business development, citizen engagement and policing, facilitated by experts from all over the world and particularly from Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica.
The delegates are also experiencing life in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica, visiting projects and sites where citizens from both sides of the River Ibër/Ibar have come together to overcome difficulties in their everyday lives.
Community Relations Officer Angela Askin said: “Participating in this conference has been such an interesting and productive experience. I have been able to share the lessons of building community cohesion in Derry/Londonderry with delegates from around the world, and also learn from their experiences of post-conflict transition.
“Too few opportunities exist for representatives from post-conflict areas to share their ideas and focus on improving the lives of everyday citizens, and I am delighted to be a part of this process”.
Sinn Fein Derry City Councillor Maeve McLaughlin added: “The conference is an important opportunity to explore models of best practice and to explore practical examples of increased collaboration in cities coming out of conflict. I believe Derry can support this process by presenting our regeneration plan and developing ways of targeting proposals to those in most need. In moving forward it is important that those who suffered so much in conflict are not left behind in the peace”.
The conference brings together representatives from Beirut, Belfast, Derry-Londonderry, Haifa, Jerusalem, Kaduna, Kirkuk, Mostar, Nicosia and Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica for a diverse and truly international conference.
Councillor Gerard Diver stated: “This conference provides a fascinating insight into the lives of the citizens of Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica and the issues which affect them as they transition to a more stable society. By sharing the experiences of the people of Derry, I hope to help other cities to progress as we have, and also to learn from them in how we can tackle pressing issues such as housing, economic development and community reconciliation.
“It is clear that the people of Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica are working hard together to build a better community for all their citizens. It has been a humbling and inspiring experience to see the difficult conditions in which they pursue peace and equality. I hope that I can share my experiences as a political representative in Derry and learn from the experiences of others in a similar situation.”
The conference takes place from 24th-28th May in Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica with the support of the University of Massachusetts and the Northern Ireland Foundation.
The Forum for Cities in Transition was established in Boston in April 2010 by representatives from Kirkuk, Nicosia, Derry-Londonderry and Mitrovicë/Kosovska Mitrovica. It is an initiative of the University of Massachusetts Boston, which hosted the founding conference. The University and the Northern Ireland Foundation, Belfast, are the Secretariat.