More than 100 mayors and bishops from 20 Mediterranean countries gathered in Florence from February 25 to 27 at the Mediterranean Forum. The aim was to reinforce peace and cooperation through diplomacy among cities. Topics covered included public health, cultural development, migration, the environment and intercultural relations.
“The Mediterranean is our home and we won’t want war at home,” stated Dario Nardella, Mayor of Florence, in his closing remarks in the Salone dei Cinquecento. “The Renaissance architect and artist Leon Battista Alberti once said that Florence is one big home and in this big home we have succeeded in bringing together an entire sea through the voices of bishops and mayors that represent millions and millions of people. Here at Palazzo Vecchio, we have had intense discussions covering critical issues, the hardest challenges and the most demanding goals.
“Mayor Giorgio La Pira brought together the world’s capitals in the middle of the Cold War in 1955 and, in so doing, he encouraged dialogue in the Mediterranean,” reminded Nardella. “The Mediterranean is not only a geographical place, it is a place of spirit. The Mediterranean borders, of this fourth continent, reach a long way, as far as Ukraine. That’s why we want to reiterate what we declared in the Florence Charter: no to war, we want peace.”
The Florence Charter sets out objectives focused on guaranteeing dignity for all and the power of education. To this end, Romano Prodi, former president of the European Commission, introduced the idea of establishing a University of the Mediterranean, with campuses in different cities. Speeches were given by Audrey Azoulay, director general of UNESCO, and Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“We will seize the opportunity of the Florence Charter as a declaration of peace and take it into our schools and talk about it with our children,” concluded Nardella.