Tallinn and Helsinki mayors renew twin city cooperation agreement

Central Helsinki skyline viewed from Kauppatori.
Central Helsinki skyline viewed from Kauppatori. Source: Kai Vare/ERR

Tallinn mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) is in Helsinki today to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Finnish capital. Kõlvart will meet with his Helsinki counterpart, Juhana Vartiainen, to sign the document, which replaces an earlier memorandum that expired at the end of last year.

The two mayors will also make an agreement on joint priorities for action in the context of the memorandum, and discuss the issue of twin-city cooperation.

Mayor Vartiainen only took office in August last year, meaning Friday is the first opportunity the pair have had to meet, while the last meeting between mayors of the two capitals took place over two years ago, before the pandemic.

Mayor Kõlvart said: "It has been two years since my last face-to-face meeting with my Finnish counterpart, and due to the Covid pandemic, our working meetings had been taking place online. The situation in both cities has changed a lot since then, with the energy and refugee crises, in addition to the pandemic."

"In today's discussions with my Finnish colleague, there is certainly no way around the discussion on what cities are doing to mitigate the crisis and what are the ways of helping Ukraine," Kõlvart went on.

"Today more than ever, strengthening cooperation between neighboring cities to address the competitiveness of the region and common challenges is essential. The renewal of the Memorandum is a clear expression of this", he added, according to a city government press release.

The new Memorandum will be signed at a meeting in Helsinki on Friday.

The Memorandum of Understanding highlights cooperation in the fields of climate and sustainable development and creative industries, as well as continued cooperation on innovation and enhancing the competitiveness of the twin cities of Tallinn and Helsinki.

Kõlvart added that: "We agree with the Mayor of Helsinki that by combining the financial, material and human resources of the two cities, the innovation potential of the region can be multiplied and it can become one of the leading economic centers in the Baltic Sea region."

The previous Memorandum of Understanding expired at the end of last year, while its outcomes were discussed at a mayors' meeting last May, when a decision was made to renew the cooperation framework and agree on an action plan to initiate joint cooperation projects and activities.

Priorities for cooperation between the twin cities of Tallinn and Helsinki include raising competitiveness and visibility to attract talent, tourists and businesses to the region, cooperation in the field of digital and data management, development of smart and climate-neutral mobility and transport solutions, and cooperation on climate and sustainable development, Tallinn city government says.

A more detailed action plan is to be drawn up to implement these areas once the Memorandum of Understanding is signed, agreeing on cooperation projects and joint activities.

The Action Plan will be an open document, leaving room for new activities, initiatives and projects to be launched, given that the cooperation between Tallinn and Helsinki is broad-based and takes place in different formats - for instance via the exchange of officials, joint cultural events, cooperation on EU-funded projects, etc.

Mihhail Kõlvart is also set to participate in a tourism briefing at the Estonian embassy in Finland, and to meet the ambassador, while in the Finnish capital.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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