2022 (EN)

The Fondazione Mediterraneo with its "Euromedcities" section and the Anna Lindh Italy Federation with many of their respective members participated in the event for peace 'Cities stand with Ukraine' organised by Eurocities in Florence in Piazza Santa Croce, crowded with flags of peace and Ukraine.
A video with the recently deceased President of the European Parliament David Sassoli talking about Europe and peace, preceded by 17 bells, one for each day of the war in Ukraine, ringing from the basilica of Santa Croce opened the event.
About 20,000 people were in the square.
In his speech, delivered in 2019 in Florence on the occasion of the extraordinary city council meeting on "The legacy of Giorgio La Pira in today's Europe", Sassoli stressed: "When we have reached the end of the European construction, because we are still inside a building site and we have to send it on, we have to write a nice sign 'Work in progress' on it; when at the end the European construction will be finished and many walls will have collapsed and so much nationalist spirit will vanish to bring out how beautiful it is to feel Italian, but without this nationalist spirit that makes you be separate and different and divided from others, what will there be at the end? Europe will be our cities," he added, "and Florence will have an advantage because it has had a wealth of experience and knowledge. And it will know where to take the world and help it to grow. And to live in peace".
"This war was not started by us, this is the cynical and cruel invasion by Russia, this is the war against the Ukrainian people". This was stated by Volodymyr Zelenskyj, President of Ukraine, speaking via video link to the Eurocities event in Florence. "I greet all the friends of Ukraine, of Europe all friends of freedom I know that today you are that over 100 thousand in different squares of different cities we Ukrainians are grateful". Russian armed forces have surrounded Ukrainian cities and want to destroy them. They bomb 24 hours a day, they bomb clinics, churches, squares, which are like yours," Zelensky added. "This war is not only against Ukrainians but against the values that unite us, against our way of life" in the West. "Tell your politicians to close the skies of Ukraine", "from rockets, from Russian planes, from missiles": this is the strong appeal of the president of Ukraine, to the square in Florence. Thunderous and long applause broke out in Piazza Santa Croce as the President of Ukraine spoke from Kiev. The connection had two brief interruptions but was quickly restored. "We must stand together in the European Community, it is important for Ukraine," he said.

Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus, performed by the Orchestra and Choir of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, conducted by Daniele Gatti, echoed in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence. Choir and orchestra performed from the cenacle of the basilica of Santa Croce.
"Today we are here in this great demonstration, united on the side of Ukraine. We are at the side of these men and women who fight with courage every day against a brutal and unjustified invasion," said Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence and President of Eurocities. Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, in her video message broadcast at the "Cities stand with Ukraine" event, said: "On behalf of the European Parliament, I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. I express our solidarity with all those who are suffering and with the families of all the innocent victims. Europe starts in its cities and municipalities, we cannot stop saying this and believing in it". "I address all mayors here: you have a key role in ensuring that fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are present in the daily lives of our citizens. We know how important your actions can be in promoting and nurturing our common project and also our values and principles. Our civilisation is based on intangible values, we must be its guarantors: peace, freedom, rule of law, will never be negotiable".
"For days we have been living the terrible drama of Ukraine. I have just returned from a visit to neighbouring countries where, to date, more than 2.5 million refugees have crossed the borders to escape the missiles and violence of the Ukrainian conflict. We estimate that at least 2 million, but certainly many more, have left their homes inside Ukraine. This is one of the most serious humanitarian crises Europe has experienced since the Second World War. In such tragic, dramatic circumstances, solidarity is very important". This was said by Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in the video message broadcast at the "Cities stand with Ukraine" event organised by Eurocities, in Florence. "The people who are fleeing, but also the people who are staying, we estimate them at more than 12 million who have the most basic humanitarian assistance needs in Ukraine, they need everything. They need everything: basic necessities, blankets to protect them from the cold, food, medicine, as do the refugees in neighbouring countries. There will also be a need for a lot of shelter, especially if the crisis lasts for a long time, as we fear". "And so I turn to you, once again to the cities - he added -, which as always are in the front line in welcoming those who suffer, those who need protection, so that you generously share the responsibility that so many communities on the borders of Ukraine have already embraced with great humanity and great affection, as I myself have seen in recent days". My appeal is therefore an appeal for solidarity with those who flee, solidarity with those who remain and, above all, solidarity in welcoming them," he concluded, "while we wait for diplomacy to finally regain the upper hand over arms and hopefully take the path of peace once again.
"We are here to ask the Russian government, with all the breath we have in our bodies: stop, stop please, before the rubble can bury any diplomatic initiative, stop and listen to the voice coming from the European squares, because we want peace": this is what President Michele Capasso said bringing the greetings of the 98 Euro-Mediterranean cities adhering to the "Euromedcities" network created in 2000 by the Fondazione Mediterraneo."How wonderful to see all of you united with Ukraine, your solidarity is very important, I want to thank all of you Italians for the huge support to my country, thanks to Nardella for this event in so many European cities. Ukraine is also defending Europe and the entire democratic world, let's defend our and your values, come on Ukraine, come on Italy". This was said by Ukrainian Ambassador Yaroslav Melnyck speaking at the 'Cities stand with Ukraine' event in Piazza Santa Croce.
"I want to say thank you to all the people in the world who support Ukraine at this difficult time for our country. These days the Ukrainian army is fighting against the Russian occupier. Not only for our freedom, but for the freedom of the whole of Europe and the whole democratic world. I beg you not to stop demonstrating, to put pressure on your governments to help Ukraine and to stop the genocide of our people. Let us stand united for Ukraine," said Andriy Sadovyi, mayor of Lviv, in the video message.
"With Russia's fierce attack on Ukraine, and the war we are all witnessing, we are facing the largest wave of refugees in European history since World War II. And that's why we have to help the refugees and we have to build a system to try to deal with the problem. That's exactly what we are doing here in Warsaw. We see hundreds of thousands of refugees who of course we help day and night. Most of them are women and children". This was said by Rafał Trzaskowski, Mayor of Warsaw, in the video message broadcast at the "Cities stand with Ukraine" event. "I know that the whole European Union is united," he added. "All European cities are united. And this is really important: the signs of solidarity towards our Ukrainian friends and also towards the cities, which are on the front line in providing assistance to refugees arriving in the European Union."
"I send this message to all the people who are demonstrating today. By doing this you are showing your support for Ukraine and your condemnation of Russian aggression and war. Our unity and determination are much stronger than any army or weapon. Together we defend democratic principles, a strong and peaceful Europe. Thank you for your support. Ukraine loves each and every one of you". This was said by Vitalij Klyčko, mayor of Kiev, in a video message broadcast at the "Cities stand with Ukraine" event.
A video with the notes of John Lennon's Imagine, performed by a group of international stars for Unicef, concluded the event. The crowd in the square sang along to the song while waving the many flags of peace and Ukraine. The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, also waved the flag of peace as he greeted the crowd.