Rotterdam mayor asks sister city Saint Petersburg to condemn war
The mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, is calling on the governor of sister city Saint Petersburg to speak out against the war in Ukraine. In a letter, Aboutaleb asked the leader of the city, Governor Aleksandr Beglov, to use his influence to "urge the Russian government to end the war in Ukraine and respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity."
According to Aboutaleb, he and his Russian colleague have a "historic responsibility" to speak out against the violence in Ukraine. He indicated that both Rotterdam and Saint Petersburg were badly hit during the Second World War and that both cities were "bombed and burned down for no reason."
The mayor of Rotterdam stated that there were "only losers in a war." He also shared how "it pains me to see ordinary Russian and Ukrainian citizens who did not choose this war suffer its inevitable consequences."
Aboutaleb also believes that there should be room for freedom of expression, even if certain opinions "do not correspond with our own." He continued by saying, "I know that many Russians have family and friends in Ukraine and are deeply saddened by the war. We have also learned of protests in Russian cities, including Saint Petersburg."
Since 1984, Rotterdam has maintained close ties with Saint Petersburg, which was called Leningrad during the time of the Soviet Union. "I now appeal to you to do everything in your power to bring peace back to our continent," Aboutaleb concluded in his letter to Beglov.
Rotterdam's twin city relationship with Russia's second-largest city recently brought up questions in the Rotterdam city council. Several parties are calling for ties to be severed with Saint Petersburg because of the Russian attack on Ukraine. Aboutaleb told RTV Rijnmond that such a decision is not up to him, but up to The Hague and Brussels.
Reporting by ANP