Cologne Mayors’ Conference

by | Apr 5, 2024 | 0 comments

Cologne Mayors’ Conference
“Euro – Middle East City-to-City-Cooperation”

– Conclusions –

On the occasion of the “Cologne Mayors’ Conference Euro-Middle East City-to-City Cooperation”, held from 29th November to 1st December 2011, mayors and leading representatives of Palestinian, Israeli and European municipalities, municipal associations and networks, experts and governmental officials convened in order to discuss and explore the potential and perspectives of Israeli-Palestinian as well as Euro-Middle East city-to-city cooperation with the objective to improve the living conditions of citizens and facilitate mutual understanding, respect and peace in the Middle East.

The Cologne Mayors’ Conference “Euro – Middle East City-to-City-Cooperation” has been jointly organized by the City of Cologne, the Association of Palestinian Local Authorities (APLA), the Union of Local Authorities in Israel (ULAI), the German Association of Cities (Deutscher Städtetag) and the Municipal Alliance for Peace in the Middle East (MAP). The owners of the conference and follow-up initiatives are APLA and ULAI, the municipal associations in Palestine and Israel and also the stakeholders of MAP.

VNG International (Netherlands), the German and French sections of CEMR, Cités Unies France (CUF), and the Standing Committee for the Euro Mediterranean Partnership of Local and Regional Authorities (COPPEM) have been partners in preparing the conference.

The Cologne conference was divided into two parts:

  1. a)  Round table between Israeli and Palestinian mayors which has been held from 29th to 30th November 2011. The round table developed and endorsed the “Cologne Memorandum of Agreement for Cooperation Activities” (see page 2-3 and appendices 1 and 2).
  2. b)  Forum “Euro – Middle East City-to-City-Cooperation”, 30th November to 1st December 2011, to which European mayors and representatives of municipal associations, governments and donor organizations have also been invited (see page 4).

The mayors’ conference was preceded and accompanied by a Youth Forum, held from 26th November to 3rd December and organized by the City of Cologne, the Cologne Catholic University of Applied Sciences and the Peace Research Institute for the Middle East (PRIME). It brought together students from Bethlehem, Cologne and Tel Aviv-Yafo who developed ideas for the Middle East 2025.

The results of the round table and the youth forum (see appendix 3) served as inputs to the forum.


Cologne Memorandum of Agreement for Cooperation Activities

On the occasion of the “Euro-Middle East City-to-City Cooperation conference”, hosted by the City of Cologne and the German Association of Cities, a round table between mayors from Palestine and Israel was organized by the Municipal Alliance for Peace (MAP) on 29th and 30th November 2011.

The purpose of the Round Table was to enhance concrete cooperation between the two sides, to upscale MAP and broaden the scope of its activities. During the discussions, mayors and experts raised different ideas for cooperation which are needed for the benefit of people on both sides. The talks, moderated by Mr. Jeremy Smith, an international expert on local government and former Secretary General of the IULA and CEMR, were creative, intense, inspiring and finally- operative. The participants also reaffirmed the “Wittenburg Joint Understanding” of 2003 and the “MAP Declaration” of 2005 which set out the basic principles for cooperation activities (see appendices 1 and 2).

The dialogue covered a wide spectrum of subjects, from which the following concrete projects were agreed upon:

  1. Mayors’ network:
    It was decided to create a sustainable and long-term Israeli and Palestinian Mayors’ network which will meet on a regular basis to facilitate cooperation on a number of fields, and provide solutions for pressing, day-to-day issues dealt with on the municipal level on both sides. The network will comprise a steering committee of 12 mayors from each side and the general network will be open for unlimited membership of committed mayors.
  2. The steering committee will meet on a quarterly basis and deal with the following specific issues:

2.1 Promotion of local and international tourism:

  • –  Organizing a mayors’ workshop, to study successful models of Israeli-Palestinian and other cooperation in the field of tourism.
  • –  To arrange a visit of international tour operators in Israel and in Palestine in order to meet with mayors and professionals on both sides and raise their awareness to the potential benefits of visiting sites on both sides. That is, giving a platform for the uniqueness of the region and its cultural heritage.
  • –  Maintain and develop touristic sites in cities in both sides, based on mutually agreed-upon tourist packages.
  • –  The establishment of a capacity-building center for tourism services.
  • –  Measures to enhance internal tourism.2.2 Environment protection and awareness:
    • –  Public health and pesticides: Coordinating efforts and providing information to confront and control the spread of diseases, pests, etc.
    • –  Organize campaigns and cooperation on environmental awareness amidst the public on both sides.


– The promotion of Haifa-Jenin-Gilboa cooperation model regarding the rehabilitation of the Kishon River and other rivers.

2.3 Exchanges of visits of both sides, with an emphasis on mayors, professional staff,
and community representatives and the enhancement of the ties between Israeli and Palestinian cities in general.

  • –  Once every six months a joint Israeli-Palestinian mayors meeting will be convened in a rotatingmethodology in order to broaden the network on both sides.
  • –  Organizing exchanges for Palestinian children’s fun day in Israeli cities and as much as possiblevice-versa.
  • –  Offering summer camps for Israeli and Palestinian youth in Israeli cities (and vice-versa)
  • –  Set up more triangles of cooperation between a Palestinian, Israeli and international cities asmodels for emulation, that are similar to the models of Cologne-Tel-Aviv-Bethlehem.2.4 Informal Education for Peace and confidence-building:
    • –  Setting up an informal program for peace education, confidence-building and leadership skills for Israeli and Palestinian youth.
    • –  Mayors on both sides will lobby with the responsible authorities to improve the water quantity.Other important issues were raised by the participants including gender equality, disasters and emergencies etc. It was agreed that the steering committee would look at ways of taking forward these issues as appropriate.

3. Role of MAP secretariat:

It was agreed that the MAP secretariat would facilitate the organization of the steering committee and mayors’ network, in agreement with APLA and ULAI.

– Examining the promotion and introduction of a treatment plant in the Bethlehem governorate.

Note: There would be scope for the steering committee to take forward environmental and related public health issues that in their view should be promoted.

private sector


2.5 Water:


– Introducing technological means for the preservation and purification of water resources.


Cologne Memorandum on Euro-Middle East City-to-City Cooperation

On the basis of the round table conclusions European, Israeli and Palestinian mayors agreed to strengthen the Euro-Middle East City-to-City Cooperation. A number of bi- tri- and multilateral cooperation projects and ideas have been presented, discussed and developed further.

There was a broad consensus that

  • −  the cooperation between European, Israeli and Palestinian municipalities shall be deepened and widened
  • −  further sister city partnerships between European, Israeli and Palestinian municipalities shall be founded
  • −  the cooperation between the existing European Euro-Middle East networks shall be enhanced
  • −  a regular exchange between European municipalities actively involved or interested in Euro-MiddleEast city-to-city cooperation shall be established.The conference was characterized by a high spirit of cooperation, openness and mutual respect. The conference underlined that municipalities have – despite of all political obstacles – their own sphere of competence and that they can build bridges of trust through concrete cooperation projects. The conference also underlined that more funding will be needed in order to exploit the full potential of city-to- city cooperation and that existing funding programs of national governments, the European Union and the United Nations shall give more attention to its unique role.Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and the Union of Municipalities of Turkey have kindly offered to hold the follow-up conference 2012 in Turkey.


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