Szeged awarded with Europe Prize
The Southern Hungarian city of Szeged is the first ever in Hungary to win the Europe prize. This prestigious annual award from the Council of Europe goes to the city doing most to promote good international relations in all walks of European life. Agi Varga of Radio Budapest spoke to Tibor Papp - foreign affairs officer at the Szeged city council and asked if he'd been surprised by the prize?
"Partly yes. It's a surprise and a great honour. On the other hand, Szeged received this prize because Europe and the European countries recognized what Szeged has done and has been doing in the recent years. This prize of course is not a prize only for the city council but for all the citizens of the city, including many organizations and institutions like the university, the chamber of commerce, the schools and educational institutions as well."
How would you present this city Szeged, which received this high recognition?
"We labelled our city many times - the city of sunshine, the gate of Europe, the regional centre of the south great plain of Hungary. Now Szeged has developed to play a real role in logistic services and in biotechnology and that is our future."
What is life like in the city?
"It's very surprising to say but sometimes it's very difficult to find free hotel rooms. It means that the interest in the city from abroad and from different organizations that are staging conferences here and different events, has grown and we can see that more and more people from abroad are coming here. So, Szeged became known in Europe even more than before."
The fact that the city has received this award suggest to me that Szeged has been quite active internationally. So what kind of network of international relations do you have?
"We have 17 sister cities and we are carrying out a couple of programs with almost all of them every year. The city council has also established very good partnerships with different institutions in the city and helps in the development of their international relations. For example, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has very good relations in Romania and Serbia, and whenever there is an event, a regional event, we cooperate. And when, for example, an embassy would like to organize a conference here, we cooperate with these organizations as well."
You mentioned the sister cities, can you give just some examples of the kind of programs you run?
"The biggest program is every year, the day of Szeged, which is always on the 21st of May, to which we invite all our sister cities. And the majority of them join us. But I should also mention that, with the city of Turku in Finland for example, we have a kind of economic cooperation. We organize, usually once a year, meetings for entrepreneurs here in Szeged and in Turku as well. Another example is the city of Darmstadt. One of our schools has very good relations with the sister school in Darmstadt and they organize teacher and student exchanges every year."