"I know that Novorossiysk's mayor is coming to Gainesville later this year, in December," Poe said on Thursday. "That will give he and I an opportunity to talk about some more specifics of what we want to do. I want to make sure that we bring a really high-quality delegation of business leaders, educational leaders, health leaders, environmental leaders."
Poe noted that Novorossiysk and Gainesville are continuing their relationship despite the tensions between Washington and Moscow.
"In Gainesville, with all of our sister cities, including in Russia, we do medical exchanges, we take business leaders, looking for opportunities for economic development, cultural exchanges," he explained.
Poe also pointed out that he sees more people concerned about the US-Russia relationship.
"They want to make sure that it continues to be a positive one and one of mutual understanding and concern," the mayor said. "With Gainesville’s relationship, from what I am hearing from many participants of the summit, there is going to be a very deliberate push to try to relive some of the relationship and put some new energy into making sure that they are operating at the level of excitement and interest that existed maybe a decade and a half ago."
Poe noted that Gainesville and Novorossiysk were really the original US-Soviet city relationship.
"It has quite a romantic and charming start," he said. "Steven Kalishman who is on the board of Sister Cities International, was in the merchant marine and his ship visited the city where he met his eventual wife. She emigrated to the United States, still had her family back in the Soviet Union. They decided there needed to be more understanding between the two, and so they started the Sisters Cities program in 1982."
"Really we view our relationship as the beginning or the genesis of the modern sister city relationship that exists between so many sister cities," the mayor stated.
He stressed that most important in the sister cities relationship, including between Russia and the United States, is people-to-people interaction among many other opportunities.
"There is a real bonding of the human spirit that takes place," he said.
Poe shared that his goal is to go with a delegation to Novorossiysk in about two years, in summer 2019.