United Cities and Local Governments Middle East and West Asia Section (UCLG-MEWA) organized an online live stream local government talk with Prof. Alim Işık, Mayor of Kütahya, on July 23, 2020. The theme of the talk was “The Role of Municipalities in the Fight Against COVID-19 and Normalization Process.”

Starting his speech by mentioning the activities of Kütahya Municipality in the fighting against the coronavirus, Mayor Işık stated that Turkey had a low COVID-19 death toll, and Kütahya had the lowest number of coronavirus cases and related deaths compared to neighboring provinces. Mayor Işık also pointed out that citizens had continued their lives with the measures taken by the authorities in the transition period to the new normal in Kütahya.

Another topic discussed during the talk was the designation of Kütahya as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Işık stressed that Kütahya joined the network under the category of ‘Crafts and Folk Art’ on October 31, 2017. He further emphasized that Kütahya is the only city in Turkey and among 13 cities in the world in terms of being included in this category. Işık indicated that the reasons for their membership in the network were mainly the art of tile and crafts such as silver embroidery and needlepoint and also stated that to ensure the sustainability of these crafts, they had set up a UNESCO department and EU Projects Monitoring and Preparation departments within the municipality.

Mayor of Kütahya also thanked UCLG_MEWA for offering an opportunity to  introduce Darülkurra (Holy Quran Recitation School) to the world via the UCLG-MEWA Talks and pointed out that there were structures similar to Darülkurra in six other countries, but only the one in Kütahya had survived as a world heritage until this day. He also added that its restoration work were underway and was planned to be opened by the end of 2020.

Underscoring the geothermal resources and tourism potential in Kütahya, Mayor Işık said: “There are many cities with geothermal resources across the world, but the city of Kütahya differs from the others by one feature: being the only world city with potable geothermal resources. Although many cities have these sources, they are not fit to drink due to their temperature, while Kütahya is the only city in the world having geothermal springs with a temperature closer to our body temperature.”

Lastly, Mayor Işık ended his speech by iterating his wish to continue its close cooperation with the UCLG-MEWA and to host one of its future meetings in Kütahya.

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