The Board of Linkages of Rochester is shocked and distressed by the decision of the federal government of the Russian Federation to violate international law and invade Ukraine. This unprovoked war cannot be condoned.
Linkages strives to fulfill the mission of the Sister City program articulated when it was founded over 65 years ago.
Sister Cities International was created at President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1956 White House Conference on Citizen Diplomacy. Eisenhower envisioned an organization that could be the hub of peace and prosperity by creating bonds between people from different cities around the world. By forming these relationships, President Eisenhower reasoned that people of different cultures could celebrate and appreciate their differences and build partnerships that would lessen the chance of new conflicts. (https://www.sistercities.org/about-us/)
In 1990, Linkages of Rochester (representing Rochester, NY) and Velikiy Novgorod, Russia became sister cities. During the past thirty years, we have developed meaningful friendships, and participated in many delegation exchanges focused on child welfare, education, elder services, substance use treatment, women’s issues and other topics. Together, we learn from one another, form deep friendships and share mutual respect. While we treasure our friendships with the citizens of Velikiy Novgorod, we are also compelled to speak honestly about the current unjust war and needless suffering. We also acknowledge the courage of many Russian citizens who are protesting for peace.
Linkages’ relationship has never been and will never be with the federal government of the Russian Federation. It is with the citizens of Velikiy Novgorod. Our hearts are with all those suffering in both nations due to this unjust war. It is our hope that the deep relationships forged over the past thirty years will provide opportunities for continued and ongoing dialogue and people-to-people citizen diplomacy to promote peace and well-being.