By Joy Phillips, Chairman –
As a Twinning Association we really cannot now ignore the reality of Brexit.
On Tuesday, 28 March, the day before Article 50 was declared to commence the separation between Great Britain and the European Union, both Paul Sharpe and I were contacted by Sky News with a request to be interviewed the next day with regards to Brexit and town twinning. Please watch the clip for the full interview.
Before the interview we asked our twin towns how they felt the UK leaving the European Community would affect our twinning relationship. These are their replies:
FromŚwidnica (Poland) a reply from Vice-President of Town Hall and Chairman of Twinning Society:
(As we needed immediate replies from our Polish twin town, and were not able to take the time to go through our usual helpful translator, although we sent the question in written form, one of our members, who is Polish, agreed to telephone our friends in Świdnica to ensure an immediate response).
Their reply was that they do not expect that there will be any change in our arrangement and our twinning will continue the same as always. We are grateful to them for their continuing friendship and support.
The reply from Valence (France) was received from the Councillor responsible for twinning in the Town Hall, Olivier Desseaux:
“I would like to say there’s no chance the strong links we have with Clacton and Tendring District will be affected by Brexit: Simply because our relationships are human and friendly relations and are more important than administrative considerations. Clacton and Tendring District is our sister city and stays our sister city!”
Biberach an der Riss (Germany) reply from the Chairman of Biberach Twinning Committee, Christa Baumgärtner:
“Brexit did not impact our relationship at all. It encourages us even more to work closer together with our twin town, having more events, more personal exchanges, more visits with cultural programs of all kinds and fostering exchanges of young people. Twinning is about friendship and expanding relationships. Getting to know people and to see how they live, what their values are, their culture and history. Finally, it’s having fun together and enjoying the international community. Be a part of it!”
We also received a reply from Wolfgang Grimm, President of Twinning in Biberach:
“We all did not want the Brexit, but now we have to accept it. But it means we have to enforce our activities. Twinning means to meet people preferably in the family. By these meetings we overcome fast the prejudices and very often friendship starts.
The next two years will not be easy, but therefore it is our responsibility to prevent that new prejudices will come up. If we gain more and more friends this will not happen. We should be so happy that we have peace in Europe since 72 years. Since we had the privilege to live in such a peaceful time it is our responsibility to preserve this peaceful time for our children and grandchildren. Therefore twinning is so important.”
Put in a nutshell, twinning is as important as ever – Brexit or no Brexit. We will continue to work toward consolidating and extending our links with our twin towns – working, if necessary, that little bit harder.