The Slovenia Times

Gornja Radgona and its Austrian partner take their cue from Nova Gorica and Gorizia

The bridge over the Mura River connecting the Slovenian town of Gornja Radgona and Austria's Bad Radkersburg. Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Europe Square between the Slovenian city of Nova Gorica and its Italian counterpart Gorizia has become a symbol of a united Europe and cross-border cooperation. Now, two towns on each side of the Slovenian-Austrian border have taken a decisive step to follow the model of that successful cooperation in a square carrying the same name.

Like Nova Gorica and Gorizia, Gornja Radgona and Bad Radkersburg have been cooperating closely for decades. Connected by a bridge built together by Austria and the former Yugoslavia, the two communities are closely knit, but they want to take that cooperation to a higher level.

Planing a number of infrastructure projects, including a rail bridge, the two towns signed an articles of association in Europe Square in Bad Radkersburg on 1 July founding their joint European Association for Territorial Cooperation in order to bid for EU funds.

The association will be headquartered in Bad Radkersburg but will also employ people from Gornja Radgona.

Gornja Radgona Mayor Urška Mauko Tuš told the Slovenian Press Agency the association's aim is to modernise infrastructure to pave the way for cross-border development and improve residents' mobility.

"The two municipalities have been cooperating very well in civil protection, firefighting, culture and sports. Now, through the new platform, we are striving to make all our activities even more effective when applying for European projects," she said.

"We have had many joint projects in the past, but now we have a legal person, an institution to carry out our joint projects and, above all, represent us in Brussels," Karl Lautner, the mayor of Bad Radkersburg, told RTV Slovenija.

"This new form of cooperation will allow projects on both sides of the border tailored to the needs of the people and local communities, which know best what the people need," said Aleksander Jevšek, the Slovenian minister of cohesion and regional development.

The Gornja Radgona mayor said they were modelling their cooperation on the example of Nova Gorica and Gorizia, which will be the European Capital of Culture together next year.

"In the future, we would like to see major infrastructural projects, such as a bus link and a cycling route, and maybe someday a railway bridge that once stood here. Another wish is a new joint tourism product," Mauko Tuš said.

"We still need to discuss the route of the track on our side. There are a few proposals, but so far unviable. It is the same on the Slovenian side," Lautner told RTV Slovenija, even as Minister Jevšek pointed out that there are quite a lot of EU funds available for rail projects.


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