As part of UCLG-MEWA Local Government Talks, an online talk entitled “Citizens’ Assemblies during the Covid-19 Process” was held with Mürsel Sabancı, President of the Union of Citizens’ Assemblies of Turkey (TKKB); Nuray Akçasoy, Board Member of TKKB; and Hasan Soygüzel, Supervisory Board Member of TKKB, on Tuesday, July 28.

The talk focused on the activities of and fundamental principles ​adopted by the citizens’ assemblies and the union in the Covid-19 process. Sabancı stated that the citizens’ assemblies had been engaged in protecting the lives of stray animals by distributing four and a half tons of food during this process. Soygüzel underlined that they had been working in coordination with Vefa Social Support Groups and that a strong civil society played a critical role in the maintenance of life. Akçasoy stated that they remembered how important it was to access right and clean food especially in the Covid-19 process, that the citizens’ assemblies supported cooperatives in this process, and that the union created a network to support these cooperatives.

Also expressing the stance of the citizens’ assemblies on issues such as governance, citizenship law, urban awareness and sense of belonging which form the basis of the citizens’ assemblies, Sabancı stated: “In societies with developed urban awareness and sense of belonging, I see that personal, institutional as well as inter-institutional relations are stronger.” On the other hand, Akçasoy mentioned that the assemblies play a role in improving coexistence awareness.” Soyguzel, who told the establishment story of the citizens’ assemblies and touched upon the turning points within this process, also underlined how active a role these assemblies played in terms of determining the agendas of the City Councils. The final issue discussed was how to communicate with the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of the society during the COVID-19 process. Akçasoy stated that trainings had been organized on the rights of the disabled within the scope of “I Want My Right for My City and for Myself” Project and that a Disabled People Unit had been established to ensure the sustainability of the project. After an hour of intense discussion, the talk ended with the expression of thanks and good wishes.

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