Panorama: Rostov on Don

Town Twinning

Picture: Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

Rostov on Don, Russia

On July 5, 1977, Dortmund City Council passed a resolution to enter into a friendship agreement with Rostov-on-Don.

Rostov on Don coat of arms

Rostov coat of arms

In an official statement on January 13, 1978, the City of Rostov-on-Don officially declared its wish to maintain friendship ties with Dortmund:

"The Rostov City Administration is of the firm belief that establishing friendship ties between both cities will make a major contribution to peace and international understanding. Taking into account the mutual interests of the citizens of both our cities, we would like to express our resolve to strengthen and deepen the ties of friendship with the City of Dortmund."

The idea of entering into a twinning agreement with a Russian city arose during the International Culture Days in Russia in 1973. In early summer of 1974, the Russian embassador in Bonn, Valentin Falin, officially proposed a twinning relationship with Rostov-on-Don to the Lord Mayor of Dortmund, Günter Samtlebe.

Due to the geographical and political divide between the two cities, a number of reservations first needed to be dispelled. On July 4, 1977, the Council of Dortmund passed a resolution for drawing up a twinning charter, which was officially confirmed by the City of Rostov-on-Don on January 13,1978. Since then the City of Dortmund has supported the endeavours of the citizens, clubs, associations, churches, schools and universities to make contact and deepen the exisiting friendship ties.

Municipal duma in central Rostov-on-Don

Municipal duma in central Rostov on Don
Picture: Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 3.0 Unported Wikimedia Commons / Вадим Анохин

From the very beginning, the twinning relationship with Rostov-on-Don was something special. The personal ties between pupils, athletes and artists showed that the existing divide between the different political systems was not unbridgeable. Despite the ideological differences, numerous friendly encounters were possible.

After the "iron curtain" fell in 1990, Germany was reunified and Russia found itself in a humanitarian crisis, the relations between the two cities strengthened even further. Dortmund's citizens organized a large-scale campaign to assist the Rostovians over many years. With Russian special-purpose vehicles and German lorries, food was transported to those in need and to childrens's and old people's homes, vehicles for the handicapped, medical equipment and medication were brought to the Don. Clinical facilities were improved, clinical personnel were trained, and many Russian patients received medical and orthopaedic treatment. With the financial support of Dortmund's Kreisverband des Roten Kreuzes (Dortmund's District Red Cross Association), new outpatient practises were built in a number of districts. Some of the projects still continue to run today.

But the classical partnership ties were also extended. The cooperation between the administrations in building democratic structures and in the press relations work was very productive. A number of partnership activities were organised between the universities of both cities and special efforts were also made in the economic field. The Rostovian Chamber of Industry and Commerce was built with the organisational support of Dortmund's Chamber of Industry and Commerce and a number of business contacts were made and business ventures initiated in the process. Since then, a pool of companies has set up a joint office in Rostov and there is a regular bus service connecting the two cities. Every 2 weeks, the bus covers the 3200 km that lie between the two cities.

Joint efforts are being made to adapt Russia's economic and social situation to the West European level. As one of the most important transport junctions in Russia and as one of the most important industrial locations in South Russia, this 1.1 million metropolis has much potential and offers many opportunities for further economic and technical cooperation.