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City at the EU’s Eastern Border Calls for Europe to show unity

PRESS RELEASE July 7th, 2016 


The City of Joensuu, Finland, has launched an indie-like initiative to express European-wide commitment to unity, peace and liberty.

Joensuu, located on the Russian border, has become increasingly concerned about what is happening to Europe. The city invites Town Halls across the continent to fly the European Flag on the last Thursday of July.

”It is high time to hoist the flag and speak out for Europe that belongs to us all – far too valuable for us to allow it to be scattered into pieces. This may be a small gesture, but is all the more meaningful for us in this remote corner of Europe” Kari Karjalainen, Mayor of Joensuu says.

This initiative of Joensuu, capital city of the North Karelia province, is spontaneous: only a week has passed from the initial idea to the launch.

“In this borderland, among forests and lakes, we’ve come to know that if something needs to be achieved, the only way is to take the first step ourselves”, Mr Karjalainen says.

The President of the European Committee of the Regions, the EU institution representing European cities and regions, Markku Markkula warmly endorses the idea. “In times like these, a bottom-up initiative of solidarity across Europe’s cities gives great hope for a brighter future, endorsing a true Europe of and for its citizens.”

Fly the Flag of Europe

According to Mr Karjalainen, a lot of things in Joensuu have changed for the better since Finland joined the EU.

“Too often people tend to forget that Europe is not an institution. Europe is the everyday life we all live on the grass-root level in cities, towns and municipalities. We Europeans are not perfect, but together we can work for a future that is better for us and for the generations to come”, he says.

On July 28th, Joensuu is hoping to see European flags above every town hall in Europe or be displayed in any way possible. Pictures will be shared on city web pages and in social media.

“The more European flags will wave on the last Thursday of July, the louder our message is going to be heard”, Mr Karjalainen concludes.”

For spreading the word, the low-budget initiative will be largely based on active presence on Twitter and Facebook. The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be supporting the campaign and distributing its message via its own communication channels.

Cities can join on the campaign website (connectingeuropeans.eu), which also features a map of Europe indicating all participants and providing information in all 24 official EU languages.

Graphic material can be downloaded at www.connectingeuropeans.eu/media