Pilsen Region and Upper Palatinate celebrated twenty-one years of partnership

30. November 2022 12:56, Mgr. Milada Soukupová

On the occasion of twenty-one years of partnership on Friday, November 11, 2022, a festive act took place in Regensburg. The event was attended by a delegation of the Pilsen Region headed by the President of the Pilsen Region Rudolf Špoták, the Governing President of the Upper Palatinate Walter Jonas, the Bavarian State Minister of Finance and Homeland Albert Füracker, the President of the Upper Palatinate District Assembly Franz Löffler, the Consul General of the Czech Republic in Munich Ivana Červenková, the former Regional Councillor of the Upper Palatinate Simon Wittmann and the former Councillor of the Pilsen Region Stanislav Rampas who participated in the signing of the cooperation agreement between the Pilsen Region and the Upper Palatinate.

The foundation for cross-border cooperation was laid 21 years ago by the then Governing President of the Upper Palatinate Wilhelm Weidinger and the former President of the Pilsen Region Petr Zimmermann.

The original ‘Declaration of Intent on Cross-Border Cooperation between the Pilsen Region and the governmental districts of Upper Palatinate and Lower Bavaria’ was signed during the Regional Conference in Pilsen on November 9, 2001. Its main purpose was to fulfil the objective of “competing with other European regions and preventing this (border) area from being reduced to a transit area between European centres”. Both parties wanted to reinforce the trends of coalescence and take advantage of the development opportunities of the territory.

According to the participants in the ceremony, the resumption of normal cooperation between regions from both sides of the border – towns and villages, schools, cultural and sports associations, companies and other institutions – was very sincere at the time. And thanks to this, both sides managed to build on the broken history of cooperation between these regions and build a solid foundation for developing these relations in the future.

The Bavarian State Minister for Finance and Homeland Albert Füracker stressed the importance of cooperation and good relations between cross-border regions, i.e. the Upper Palatinate–Pilsen axis: “The Upper Palatinate–Plzeň axis is particularly important to me not only as a resident of the Upper Palatinate but also as Minister of Homeland. The Bavarian–Czech border region is linked by an increasingly close partnership and has developed into a unique region and an attractive home. The ministry as a strong partner actively supports this region. Since 2016, we have already supported more than 30 projects in the Bavarian–Czech border region. We want to continue to work side by side and further develop the border region in the future. Thank you to all those who are tirelessly committed to this historic region in the heart of Europe.”

Walter Jonas, Governing President of the Upper Palatinate, said that the regional cooperation between the government of the Upper Palatinate and the Pilsen Region has become a driving force for cross-border cooperation over the past 21 years, forming a solid basis for the Bavarian–Czech friendship. “Moreover, for us as a government, it has long been an integral part of the working daily life with visible and tangible results for citizens on both sides of the border. Because the routine and continuity of cooperation with diverse joint projects make a decisive contribution to the lively coexistence in the region of eastern Bavaria and western Bohemia.”

In this context, the President of the Pilsen Region Rudolf Špoták said: “I am convinced that we can be optimistic about this partnership in the future, because there is much we can build on after 21 years of successful cooperation. First and foremost are the friendly ties and numerous meetings, whether in the form of discussion forums, innovation days or personal meetings. But also a number of joint projects and the activities of large and small companies that have moved the economies of the border regions towards becoming economically strong regions in their respective countries. This has fulfilled the wish of our predecessors that we should not just become a transit area. That is a thing of the past. The economic interconnection of our regions in the centre of Europe is thus clearly to the benefit of all,” and he stressed: “We are now at a stage in the world economy where we are finding that a total global market is not quite the best solution. This has been shown to us by the period of Covid-19 and the current situation in Ukraine. The industrial map of the whole world and Europe is being redrawn. I think that the Pilsen Region and the Upper Palatinate now has one of the biggest opportunities in the last 30 years to become an innovation region and an EU engine and we should not let this opportunity slip away.”

The good relations between the neighbouring border regions were also appreciated by the Consul General of the Czech Republic in Munich, Ivana Červenková.
During the discussion, the participants of the ceremony agreed in their contributions that it is necessary to continue joint projects and to find ways for others, such as the modernisation of the railway line Prague–Pilsen–Domažlice–Regensburg–Munich.

A number of successful projects have emerged from regional cooperation or have been closely linked to it – e.g. the establishment of an office of the Regensburg and Upper Palatinate Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pilsen, the European Capital of Culture Pilsen 2015, the construction of Lake Drachensee near Furth im Wald as part of cross-border flood protection, the cross-border rescue service in Furth im Wald and a large number of cross-border partnerships between municipalities and schools.

In the afternoon, the President of the Pilsen Region and his Vice-President Petr Vanka attended a political forum on the theme ‘Czech-Bavarian region without borders: creating a common space for meeting and the future’ in Lower Bavaria. The event took place in Bayerisch Eisenstein.