Strengthening Borderland Cooperation
Szczecin is a natural center of joint borderland activity, but cooperation with German partners needs to be intensified. These are the main conclusions that were drawn during a conference “Our borderland – between vision and practice, a Polish-German meeting of politicians, practitioners and experts.”
Municipal officials organized a two-day conference, the aim of which was to discuss current cooperation between bordered districts and communes from Germany. To define and identify new phenomenon that appears in our region after Poland joined the European Union’s Schengen zone, as well as new challenges, tasks and barriers to further cooperation. Some 200 people participated in the conference. There were Polish and German representatives of local governments, administrations, institutions and non-governmental organizations from borderland districts, including Ostvorpommern, Uecker-Randow (Mecklemburg - Pomorze Przednie), Uckermark and Barnim (Brandenburg) from Germany and the Polish cities of Police, Gryfino, Stargard and Goleniow.
Participants were divided into various thematic groups, including tourism promotion, information, communication, transport, culture, education and business development. They analyzed recent achievements and identified issues for further and continued activity and cooperation.
Among the subjects mooted for discussion included the necessity of developing a bilingual education system and establishing a methodology center for German and Polish teachers. In the sphere of economic development sphere, agreement was reached on the need for continuation of mutual activities, especially within preparation of investment offers as Szczecin and Pasewalk have been doing.
Promotion through joint publications and developing infrastructure were stressed by the tourism group. Establishing a facility to serve as a common meeting place of Polish and German institutions and artists was proposed by the culture affairs group.
To summarize the conference, Piotr Krzystek, the President of Szczecin, concluded that borderland cooperation between Polish and German partners is both rich and multidimensional. He added that more needs to be done and vowed that the city would do its part to deepen this cooperation.
“I could bring here dozen examples of concrete activities, beginning from bilangual education, joint artistic and economical activities,” the mayor said. “But my wish is that it such common projects were several hundred and it is our goal to make this a reality.”