The 25th of April is the World Sister Cities Day
The international movement of sister cities was born in the period of the Second World War. In 1942, at the height of the war, when German invaders were bombing mercilessly the city of Stalingrad, the citizens and defenders of this Soviet city got a telegram from the British city of Coventry which had also suffered a lot from fascist bombing. In the telegram the British people expressed their admiration of the courage and staunchness of the citizens of Stalingrad and offered them their hand of friendship. In 1942 the cities of Coventry and Stalingrad took a decision to establish friendly relations in order to promote cooperation in the interests of peace and people’s well-being.
In 1944 the citizens of Coventry sent their first gift to the citizens of Stalingrad – a tablecloth on which there were embroidered the names of 830 Coventry women as well as the name of Lady Mayoress Emily Smith. Each woman embroidered her own name by hand. On the tablecloth there were also embroidered the following words: "Little help is better than big sympathy". Together with the tablecloth the British women also sent some money which had been raised as a charity.
Having united on the basis of a common peacemaking idea the aim of which was to put an end to bloody wars, the cities of Stalingrad and Coventry made a good start for fraternal international friendship between cities and towns. A few years after the war committees of friendship were set up both in Stalingrad and Coventry. So that was the way that the first sister cities appeared and their number began to grow rapidly in the post-war period.
Soon the noble purposes of sister city relationship got a world-wide recognition and encouraged this people’s initiative in different countries of the world. In 1957 representatives of the sister cities created the World Federation of Sister Cities (WFSC). In 1962 on the initiative of the Association it was decided that from 1963 on the last Sunday of April would be marked as the World Day of Sister Cities.
The sister cities movement has become a vivid example of international friendship, a convincing example of people’s democracy. Mutual assistance and support in the solution of municipal problems, exchange of experience in self-government and in the system of municipal economy have become the main objectives of sister city relationship. Sister cities undertake efforts to consolidate friendship and mutual understanding between their people, develop mutually beneficial relations and cooperation in different fields, such as economy, science, medicine, education, culture, sport, tourism, protection of nature and others.
Sister city movement has got a wide support in Belarus too. During the first years the movement was coordinated by the Belarusian Society of Friendship and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries. In 1995 the Belarusian Association of Sister Cities was founded. Today about 40 Belarusian cities and towns are members of the Association and they cooperate with over 230 cities and towns of 32 countries.
The capital of the Republic of Belarus maintains international relations and cooperation with 73 cities and towns in the world of which 16 cities and towns are sister cities of Minsk