Mr. Mayor, Arad is a model for the European Regional Development. What do you believe to be the elements that make Arad a national and international force?
I believe that the force specific for the entire area, not only Arad, comes from a certain understanding of the notion of freedom. And I’m not only referring to the fact that the anti-communist Revolution of 1989 started in Timișoara, Arad being the second town where people took to the streets. I would go further back in time and suggest a close reading of the Alba Iulia Declaration, because its principles were mostly conceived here, in Arad. I suggest you take a good look at the fact that the Declaration talks about unity in freedom. It proclaims the union of Romanians from Transylvania from the very start, and the liberties of the citizens and of the community are also firmly stated. The words liberty, free appear no less than eight times in a document that is not that long after all. I think that all the forms of freedom asserted then, the freedom of conscience, of expression, of initiative, religious freedom and free association, the universal vote – some of which were not obtained at first or were temporarily refused during dictatorship – are deeply rooted in the way of living of our people. Living by these principles also gives us a unique perspective about how community must be managed and respected, about how it must grow, about how to show respect to partners, minorities and individuals who want to invest in a business.
It is also unmistakeable that the position of Arad on the map of Europe is particularly geostrategic. Our town will always be included in talks about economic relations, transport infrastructure, cultural connections or any other connections that our country has with Europe. Currently 70% of Romania’s GDP is produced in Bucharest, the capital city, and another 21 cities. Arad proudly sits on the third position. There are 18,000 active companies in Arad today, 2,500 of them with foreign capital. Our city holds the first position nationally in terms of employment in the private sector compared to the public sector.
The community of Arad is often referred to as being multinational. How does this influence the diversity of the everyday life of the city?
In the European Union, of which we are a part and want to remain a part, local administrations share common values such as democracy and the rule of law, and respect the intrinsic diversity of the regions that form the Union.
The dynamic of the European Union and the openness for interaction are the best conditions for development. I believe that intercultural dialogue is our chance to bring added value to the community, because for us regional diversity is both an opportunity and a major challenge. For us, for the local communities, it is very important to not only talk about us people living in a definite space but also about us as members of the European Union. We must debate the main topics that concern our communities and we must feel European in our decisions and take responsibility for them.
We have the duty to protect the rights of minorities. Romania belongs to all of its citizens, be they Romanian, Hungarian, German or other. We also need to work together to have a future in Europe. Politicians and citizens, managers and public servants, intellectuals and workers alike – we all have the responsibility of making the most of our country’s potential. Romania will be successful in the 21st century. Not by clinging to the past, but by confidently building its future. We must understand that a beautiful future is built on education and culture. This future means believing in values, in friendship, in neighbours, celebrating the beauty of our town and country together with our Romanian, Hungarian, Serbian, German or Jewish friends. We must build the European Union on the foundation of brotherhood. Year after year we must keep creating opportunities for everybody to grow, regardless of their ethnicity, nationality or religion.
(From the special edition of TB 86 – „ENJOY TRANSYLVANIA!” – May/June 2019)