April 8, 2022

Vilnius Leads Firm Stand Against Russian Aggression at the Forum of Mayors in Geneva

This week, urged by Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, the Second Forum of Mayors 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, demonstrated a firm stand against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by removing Russian and Belarussian mayors from the event and announcing a Declaration condemning the war. The Declaration, signed by 21 mayors from free world cities, calls to stop the war in Ukraine and help the Ukrainian cities and the society rebuild.

Continuous Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has called for concrete steps on behalf of many global authorities, mayors included. This week 21 mayors from various world countries signed a Declaration, initiated by Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, which calls to cease the war and support the Ukrainian people in any way possible. 

The Declaration was signed at the Second Forum of Mayors 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, drawing signatures from mayors of cities in countries such as Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Georgia, Slovakia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Romania, Estonia, Ghana, Canada, and others. 

The main aspects declared—a demand for Russia and Belarus to cease aggression, a request for international institutions and countries to stop the Russian invasion of Ukraine by any means necessary, an invitation for international institutions, countries, and cities to help Ukraine rebuild the destroyed cities, and a pledge by the mayors to support Ukrainian society. 

“Today I am very glad that the majority of mayors from the free world cities backed up my principled stand to prevent Russia from exploiting the Forum for its own deceitful purposes,” said Mr. Šimašius. “Russia’s intention to achieve a quick win in Geneva was met with a firm rebuttal.”

Leading up to the Forum, the Mayor of Vilnius pressured the organizers to remove the mayors of Russian and Belarussian cities from the event, which resulted in the Executive Committee’s decision to exclude the aggressors.

The Declaration was initiated after Mr. Šimašius was the first one to walk out of the Forum while a Russian diplomat was giving a defamatory speech about Ukrainian authorities. Many of the mayors followed Mr. Šimašius, left the meeting, and signed the Declaration in protest.