— Mr. Ilsur Metshin, you are the President of the Eurasian section of UCLG, Co-President of World Organization of UCLG and the President of the Eurasian section of the Organization of World Heritage Cities. In your opinion, what are the benefits of the status of member of an international organization, as of UCLG?
-Any city is a complex sum of interactions and relationships, problems and opportunities, history and new approaches. Of course, every city is unique. But today almost all metropolitan cities face the same problems: transport, environment, safety, urban planning and social policy. And, in my view, the role of the United Cities and Local Governments is to promote the development of every town, to find such ways of international cooperation and exchange of best practices which would be useful for all members of UCLG. The status of member of UCLG gives an opportunity to gain access to international experience, become a part of the global community of cities, as well as present towns` socio-cultural and industrial potential.
For example, we learn how to organize traffic flows from Istanbul, we study the experience of integration of old architecture into the new infrastructure in Baku, and we develop the education system basing on knowledge of Singapore. Other cities have something to take from Kazan. And this constant process of interaction and mutual enrichment is one of the most important conditions for the development of any modern city. To live in isolation means to be doomed to an inevitable lag.
In addition, participation of a city in the activities of international organizations helps form a favorable international image and increase recognition of the city. A promoted brand attracts tourists and investors, contributing to urban development and job creation.
— Kazan will host Eurasian Cities Forum on July 5-8. What results do you expect?
— The key question to be discussed at the Eurasian Cities Forum is how to innovate, while maintaining the heritage. This theme is very relevant today. Urban space is rapidly changing, and it is important to correlate these changes with historical context. Our architectural heritage, as well as modern buildings, have to win in the new town planning - but it requires a very fine study of the projects. The dialogue of experts and local and regional leaders will help find solutions and work out some recommendations.
The General Assembly of UCLG which will also be held during the forum is of great importance. The new leadership of the organization will be elected there – the new president and three vice-presidents of the Eurasian section of UCLG. It should be noted that the vice-presidents will be elected for the first time after making changes to the charter. I am confident that the new team of leaders will achieve great results in the development of local authorities and will push the organization to the next level.
The city which will host the next 7th Conference of World Heritage Cities in 2014 and the city that will host the Congress of Local Authorities of Eurasia in 2015 will be determined at the forum.
— Mr. Ilsur MEtshin, what are you planning to show to the guests of the forum?
— Kazan is a city where mosques and Orthodox churches are found side by side, where different nations and cultures have peacefully co-existed and developed for hundreds of years. This is the feature of Kazan which makes its atmosphere truly unique. And we will be happy to show the Kazan Kremlin which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List with its Muslim and Christian holy sites, with its history dating back to the heyday of the empire of Genghis Khan; we will visit the Temple of all religions, the Staro-Tatarskaya Sloboda (old Tatar settlement), as well as the historic city of Great Bolgar and the fortress city of Sviyazhsk, and share experience of restoration of historic sites and heritage conservation.
Secondly, we will show the visitors the sites which were built in preparation for the World Summer Universiade-2013. I hope that our experience of the aggressive modernization of the urban infrastructure will be useful for the participants of the Eurasian Cities Forum.