Cologne makes international friendships
The city of Cologne cultivates links with 22 existing twin cities and partnerships with a further six towns have arisen through incorporation.
In 1952 the City of Cologne founded its first international sister-city partnership with the English City of Liverpool. It was the beginning of a combined effort to overcome the trenches of World War II, and thus a very important step towards building a peaceful future. Since then a large number of people to people contacts have been made possible.
In 1958, only one year after the founding of the EEC (today's EU), Cologne, moved by the idea of a united Europe, formed what could be described as a circle-partnership with Esch-sur-Alzette, Lille, Liège, Rotterdam and Turin (all cities of EEC founding member nations). Their main interest was to make a contribution to European integration on a citizen level. To answer to the responsibilities of the 21st century, in 2008 they have agreed upon a Charter of Sustainability.
Cologne becoming a sister-city with Indianapolis and Volgograd (formerly known as Stalingrad) in 1988 is another exceptional deed of foreign policy on a local level. Remarkable for the Federal Republic of Germany, the city council of Cologne agreed upon a humanitarian project to provide support to former forced labourer victims from Volgograd.
Diplomacy between cities is what Cologne does, regarding the municipal contacts between Israel and Palestine. Partnering with Tel Aviv (1979) and Bethlehem (1996), Cologne was the first German city to form sister-city partnerships with communities in both Israel and Palestine.
The prospering sister-city partnerships with Beijing and Istanbul as well as Tunis and Kyoto serve as cultural bridging in a globalized world. They offer opportunities to come closer, learn about different cultures, prepare for international understanding, and act jointly.
All sister-city relationships rely on contacts between their citizens such as student-, youth- and sportgroups exchanges; they live through learning about one another's arts and cultures. For every single one of Cologne's 21 sister-city partnerships there is an organization of friends promoting these partnerships at the citizens' level. For the City of Cologne these voluntary organizations are important and valuable partners when it comes down to grass-roots activities.
Benfleet (England) with former district Rodenkirchen
Brive la Gaillarde (France)