The City of Dortmund maintains official twinning relationships to seven cities across the world. It also has a special intra-national twinning relationship with Zwickau in the State of Saxony.
Dortmund's eight twinning arrangements
Picture: Dortmund-Agentur / Anja Vormbrock
Town twinning arrangements serve to further, experience and understand cross-border relationships in the intellectual, cultural and economic walks of life. The precondition for any town twinning relationship is therefore that the cities involved maintain a firm intention to cultivate the spirit of solidarity among their citizens and thus to make a vital contribution to international understanding, friendship and peace.
Pupil and youth exchange programmes and the cultivation of sports and cultural contacts have been key components in Dortmund's lively twinning arrangements. In addition, business contacts and mutual support programmes, as well as experience sharing in the administrative and scientific fields have an important role to play.
Reconciliation and international understanding were initially in the forefront of the town twinning scheme. Especially after the World War II, cross-border partnerships with German cities contributed significantly to improving international understanding. Partnerships formed with the western neighbours helped to root the concept of Europe deeper into the thinking of wider segments of society.
This is confirmed in the town twinning documents:
"Town twinning arrangements serve to further the fruitful exchange of ideas across borders in the intellectual, cultural and economic fields. This will strengthen the personal ties between citizens of different cities. This also means that the cities have a strong desire to promote the spirit of solidarity and thus to contribute towards international understanding, friendship and peace."
Town twinning schemes originally took the form of cultural and sports events. Culture and sport and school exchange programmes provided a very good context in which to build friendships. Even today, town twinning schemes form an essential part of the foreign relations work of municipalities. However, the character of the town twinning schemes is changing. For several years now, there has been a clear shift of emphasis in the town twinning activities. Nurturing business relations, organising aid and support programmes, sharing experiences at managerial levels and in the organisational and scientific fields are becoming the new priority areas of today's town twinning arrangements.
Subject areas such as urban planning, urban renewal, residential development and utility and waste disposal facilities, local transport, and the promotion of business and environmental protection are increasingly coming to the fore. The exchange of information and the discussion of common problems between experts has become a firm component of these relationships.
The task of the municipalities is initially to facilitate coordination. Independent partnerships, such as those that exist in the sports and cultural fields, are of course desirable and already widespread.
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