400 people participated in “International Social Inclusion Summit” which was organised on 17-18 May in İstanbul.
The opening speeches were delivered by the President of UCLG-MEWA and Mayor of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Fatma Şahin, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe Jean-Claude Frécon, Vice President of CEMR and the President of the Union of Municipalities of Greece George Patoulis, EU Delegation to Turkey the Head of Economic and Social Development François Bégeot and Ministry of Labour and Social Policies the Head of the Directorate of European Union and Social Assistance Uğur Güneş. In this summit, information and experiences of the 12 pilot municipalities of İSKEP were exchanged.
Fatma Şahin: “The World Goes Through a Test on Humanity”
The Mayor of Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Fatma Şahin started her speech by delivering the greetings from our President of the Union of Municipalities of Turkey Dr. Kadir Topbaş. Mrs. Şahin underlined that in this new world without frontiers and where globalisation exists, the concepts of social justice and sustainable development should be discussed again and she also pointed out the recent legal arrangements targeting disadvantaged people. Emphasizing the importance of human oriented social policies, Mrs. Şahin mentioned about the global problems of war and poverty and said: “Wars mostly affect the disadvantaged groups. Turkey is making effort to help everybody out of its own borders to the degree of the possibilities. However; Turkey cannot solve these problems by its own, everybody should take responsibility. The world goes through a test on humanity and those passing this exam will leave their golden marks in the history. We will create a roadmap by using the conclusions of this summit and we will build bridges to the hearts of people.”
Frécon: “For a harmonized society, it is necessary to fight against discrimination and respect for diversity.”
Explaining that he is glad to participate in the summit, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe Jean-Claude Frécon delivered his thanks to all institutions and organisations making effort for the summit and sent special thanks to the Union of Municipalities of Turkey. Mr. Frécon stated that the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities has been studying on the concept of “social harmony” for many years and that local authorities have heavy responsibilities in terms of enabling equal access of all people to the human rights. Mr. Frécon said: “The local authorities need broader authorizations in order to ensure social harmony. For a harmonized society, it is necessary to fight against discrimination and respect for diversity. He underlined the importance of including the local authorities to the policies created at national level and made some evaluations on the local authorities’ integration studies in Turkey and Europe.
Patoulis: “We need to think globally and act locally”
Reminding that local authorities have close contact with people, Vice President of CEMR and the President of Union of Municipalities of Greece George Patoulis stated that the task area of the municipalities is expanding in spite of the decreasing budget for enabling a better life for people. Mr. Patoulis underlined that as well as their basic tasks, municipalities shoulder the problems about refugees. Mr. Patoulis emphasized the importance of the support to be received from the central government and other stakeholders of city while fighting against social exclusion and said: “We need to think globally and act locally but also think locally and act globally.”
Bégeot: “We are supporting 12 municipalities and strengthening our ties with Turkey”
EU Delegation to Turkey the Head of Economic and Social Development François Bégeot started his speech stating that the organisation is very effective and this international summit is of importance in terms of gathering all the relevant big institutions and organizations in one place. Mr. Bégeot explained that one of their prior issues is social inclusion and underlined that they make effort for a better society. Emphasizing the importance of the studies and works conducted for the disadvantaged groups, Mr. Bégeot stated that they are supporting 12 pilot municipalities within the scope of İSKEP and strengthen the ties with Turkey via this way. Mr. Bégeot added that this project is of utmost importance in terms of eliminating the problems of disadvantaged people in such areas as labour market, finding job, setting balance between the professional and special lives and establishment of local partnerships in the cities.
Ministry of Labour and Social Policies the Head of the Directorate of European Union and Social Assistance Uğur Güneş informed the participants about the management process of the Instruments of Pre-Accession and explained the works conducted for a more qualified management of the funds in the areas of education, employment and social inclusion. Mr. Güneş shared some numerical data of İSKEP with the participant. Mr. Güneş explained the scope of the studies targeting to the disadvantaged people by giving examples and disseminated some key information about the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies.
Also in the first day of the Summit, Istanbul Local Integration Declaration was signed.
In the thematic speeches session, our Secretary General of the Union of Municipalities Hayrettin Güngör and the Team Leader of İSKEP Project Paulo Pedroso delivered their speeches. Moreover, thematic sessions with the themes of “Syrian Refugees and Integration” and “International Agenda and Social Integration” were held and information and experiences were exchanged.
In the last day of the summit, in the thematic sessions organized under the themes of “Social Integration and Employment”, “Integration of Roma People”, “People with Disabilities and Social Integration” and “Urban Transformation and Social Integration”; municipalities, project stakeholders and representatives of people with disabilities gathered and made discussions about the current situation, problems and solution suggestions.