In light of Strasbourg's European vocation as the city that hosts the Council of Europe and given its desire to play an active role in strengthening good neighborly relations with Russia and building a united Europe, the City decided to given formal shape to the friendly relations it had fostered with the City of Vologda in 2009. It has also developed extensive cooperation with Moscow in particular in the heritage area.
A partnership with Vologda, the cultural capital of northern Russia
Both cities have a great deal in common, a rich historical and religious heritage, wide-reaching cultural influence and dynamic craftwork and Christmas traditions. These points in common led Strasbourg and Vologda to initiate decentralized cooperation.
The framework cooperation agreement between Strasbourg and Vologda was signed in December 2009 by the Mayors of both Cities and focused on the following main areas: culture and heritage, tourism, sports, health and social cohesion.
This agreement was renewed in 2012 extending cooperation to the economic sphere. A new partnership agreement was adopted in May 2016 with special attention being given to youth and citizenship, culture and the French language along with tourism and crafts.
As a result projects and exchanges between both cities flourished in numerous areas: culture, development of tourism and crafts, school and university exchanges, sports, economic development and the inauguration of a Vologda square in the heart of the new Heyritz eco-neighborhood in 2014.
Enhanced heritage cooperation with Moscow
Strasbourg and Moscow share a rich historical and cultural heritage that is listed by UNESCO, but also common concerns as to how to reconcile the preservation of this heritage with the demands of a modern city.
As part of the France-Russia Year, Strasbourg hosted the Moscow Heritage Days in November 2010 with an exhibition on the gems of Moscow's heritage and a round-table discussion between French, Russian and European experts on current heritage preservation and development challenges. The experience sharing initiated at this time continued after the event and mainly concerned UNESCO listings and historical monument restoration work with particularly dynamic exchanges with the stonemasons working at Ateliers de l'œuvre Notre Dame. These discussions could be broadened in the future to take in the issue of providing accessibility to disabled persons when restoring ancient buildings.
There are also numerous exchanges between the two cities in the cultural and tourism areas. The first Strasbourg Christmas market in Moscow took place in December 2012. It was an outstanding success with the Russian public and has continued to gain momentum over recent years. The City of Moscow was also present on the Christmas market in Strasbourg in 2014.
Issues such as sustainable urban development, public transport and mobility, and energy efficiency were also discussed by the elected representatives from both cities. Strasbourg mayor, Roland Ries, addressed the Urban Forum in Moscow in December 2014 on the issue of transport.
Relations between Strasbourg and Moscow were further boosted when the Moscow Days were organized in Strasbourg (and Paris and Nice) in June 2016. The program focused on greater experience sharing in such areas as heritage preservation and the craft of stonemasons.