The International Relations Office is part of the Management Department of Harghita County Council and is responsible for cooperation with European organizations, institutions and twinned counties for the initiation and implementation of common international projects and programmes. For a proper promotion of Harghita county’s values, the office assures efficient representation at international exhibitions, fairs, mass-media, cultural events and through newsletters. Regarding to official delegation organization, it has implementation responsibilities, and assures their uninterrupted and undisturbed implementation.
The office implements two major programmes yearly:
The Eurodyssée program:
Being member of the Assembly of European Regions, through the Eurodyssée Program, Harghita County Council cooperates continuously with 33 partner regions from 12 European countries for youth support in exchange of experiences and professional development. The program offers youth between 18-30 years the possibility to gain professional experience in different specialty domains in European partner regions through professional traineeships lasting around three to seven months. The initiative also contributes to the perfection of their foreign language skills.
In 2008, the program offered 3 persons from Harghita County this possibility in public administration and tourism in Germany, Portugal and Spain. Also, at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 a trainee from Spain came to Harghita County to finish her professional traineeship, to teach at the “Soros” Language Center of Miercurea Ciuc and at Harghita County Council.
Program of development and support of Harghita County’s cooperation with twinned counties and regions
Through this program the development initiatives are supported through cooperation with foreign administrative units, participation and representation of Harghita county at conferences, seminars, professional negotiations and international exhibitions organized by our twinned counties. The program supports these activities for exchange of experiences, cooperation, development of tourism, culture, economics and other important domains through the principle of reciprocity and it’s promotion on international level.
Under the framework of twinning cooperation, there were initiated and developed several kinds of successful projects in colaboration with the Development Directorate and the Directorate of Programmes and Rural Development of Harghita County Council. These programmes are for example, the Inextext Project, which is based on the innovative experience exchange and methods on cultural heritage of textiles. This project was initiated in partnership with General Assembly of Somogy County from Hungary and also other international partners, being financed by the Leonardo da Vinci Program. Also, there is the FolkDanceNet Program (2008-2009), which was initiated in partnership with General Assembly of Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County from Hungary in the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue for the creation of cooperation possibilities between local authorities, civil societies and folk dance associations from 15 participant countries in the name of common promotion of cultural values, traditions and cultural patrimony. (www.folkdancenet.eu)
Another successful result of cooperation with our twinned counties is the program of population’s health evaluation by Hungarian medical groups and assistants in Dealu, Plăieşii de Jos, Ciumani and Vărşag.
Through international cooperation, we also continuously succeeded to promote our cultural, traditional and touristic values at several ocassions, such as at international exhibitions organized in Pest, Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok, Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén, Hajdú-Bihar counties and Eger of Hungary.
Since 2008 Harghita County Council initiated another program to promote and sell traditional Szekler products at markets abroad, too. Initially, these products were promoted through presentations, participation in exhibitions and fairs organized in Hungary. The County Council has negotiated with the Cora hypermarket chain in March in Budapest through a products’ presentation and tasting event. This was a successful initiative, making possible the implementation of further steps and objectives of the above mentioned program. Based on these steps, we managed to organise the „Szekler Week” in the Cora hypermarket in Budapest from 7th till 22nd of May 2010. This offered the possibility for Hungarian consumers to buy traditional Szekler products, such as cheese, mayonnaise, honey, mineral water, cranberry juice, apple juice and pottery products in this hypermarket chain in Szolnok, Szeged, Miskolc, Debrecen and Budapest in Hungary.
In 2009 we signed another two international cooperation agreements with two foreign counties, Valle d’Aosta Autonomous Region of Italy and General Assembly of Hajdú-Bihar County from Hungary, based on the importance of collaboration with them and the fact that there are several opportunities to initiate and implement with them succesfull common projects in the future. The most important areas of collaboration with Valle d’Aosta Autonomous Region are energy management, public administration and tourism.
The program of Harghita county’s representation in Brussels, Belgium was initiated and developed in order to maintain cooperation with the European Union’s institutions, for participation in conferences, exchange of experiences and for proper evaluation and negiotiation of development opportunities, foreign investments and direct funding from the European Union institutions in the benefit of Harghita county.
Another activity that belongs to the international relations office’s attributes is the counselling of local authorities and councils in their foreign relations. It also contributes to the coordination of international relations of subordinated institutions of Harghita County Council.
Since last year the office intermediates the cooperation of diaspora Hungarian communities’ twinning relations with foreign communities, through Harghita County Council’s program for support of these communities. The office is also working in collaboration with the Directorate of Programs and Rural Development to assure a proper promotion of this program abroad.
All activities, initiatives and programs mentioned above support and reflect continuously those concrete objectives of Harghita County Council that are based on opportunities evaluation and development in international projects and programs. Also these are concentrated mainly on their successful implementation, on foreign investment attraction and the achievement of more direct funding possibilities from the European Union in the benefit of Harghita county’s population. The activity of the International Relations Office is, in fact, based on those principles which, on behalf of international reciprocity, continues and makes more efficient the above mentioned programs, contributes to the county’s development strategy, promotes the local values and ensures effective interests representation of the county on international level.
The twinning relationship, membership status in European organizations, international cooperation based on project development and common interest representation in accordance with the European Union principles help Harghita County Council to strenghten its role on external level, to build solidarity, cooperation, economic relations and last but not least frienships worldwide.