Arad is a welcoming city, filled with history - a true example of multiculturalism and ethnic diversity
Interview with Călin Bibarț, mayor of Arad, Romania
- úterý 22. září 2020 10:30
- Monika Dimitrova
Călin Bibarţ was elected interim mayor of Arad in June 2019, having served previously as a deputy mayor. He had also been Prefect of the Arad County, as well as Director of the National Forests Authority.
Politically, he was first vice-president of the National Liberal Party’s municipal organization when he was nominated to seek re-election as mayor of Arad, in the September 2020 elections. His main objectives are the continuation of the already started projects and initiation of new ones for the benefit of the Arad inhabitants.
Arad is the capital city of Arad County and the 12th largest city in Romania. Photo by Arad Municipality
Mayor Bibarţ, Arad is known for its mix between old and new, between history and modernism. Please describe the municipality in a few sentences.
The oldest traces of documented human occupation in Arad date back to the 13th century and prove that today’s Arad is a mix of old and new, a city that preserves its traditions and history, but, at the same time, a city that is eager to continuously develop its modern urban features.
Known as “Little Vienna”, Arad keeps on impressing with its special architectural elements, the work of prestigious architects in varied styles, as well as with a solid cultural offering. The city that has hosted Franz Liszt, Johann Strauss-son and George Enescu, lasts as an artistic presence in the cultural life of the country through the recognized artists of the Philharmonic or the "Ioan Slavici" Theatre.
In the past, Arad was an important place for the development of Romanian education, and schools counting with a long tradition are still active and provide high-quality teaching. After the 1989 Revolution, an increasingly frequented university centre, consisting of two growing universities, has joined the education sector.
It is also worth mentioning that Arad is one of the historical landmarks of Romania's independence, since some of the leaders of the Great Union were from Arad or worked from Arad.
But the city does not only live in its past. Currently, Arad is the best-connected city to Europe in the country, through the developed network link to the A1 motorway. Meanwhile, the city has gradually become an attractive and modern industrial centre, continuing an ancient tradition.
If I have to summarize it, I would say that Arad is a welcoming city, filled with history - a true example of multiculturalism and ethnic diversity.
How has the municipality developed since you became a mayor in 2019? Please tell us about the most important initiatives.
Even if only one year has passed since I took over the position of mayor and although a significant part of this period was spent in the shadow of the Covid pandemic, the city of Arad continued its started projects. They include the completion of the restoration works of the Cultural Palace, a building that is symbolic for Arad, the restoration and modernization of three important colleges, the rehabilitation of the main sewerage network, the continuing modernization of the city central heating networks.
This summer we will finalize the new football stadium, and one of the most important initiatives that we are willing to accomplish in the near future is to give back the Arad Fortress to the Municipality, a historic building of high value and significance. Its subsequent transformation, taking into account that the fortress could perhaps become the most important tourist and leisure object, is one of our major upcoming projects.
And what are the main challenges?
Like any other city of considerable age, Arad faces some problems caused by the difficulty of adapting the current modern innovations to an old street structure. Therefore, some of the main challenges remain traffic streamlining in the city, the problem of parking spaces and the expansion of public transportation.
Taking into account the current trends, we intend to solve all these problems in a non-polluting way. We would also focus on the complete elimination of heavy traffic in the city, a problem that is one step away from being accomplished. An ongoing project is the restoration of all the historical buildings of Arad and our final goal is to make Arad look like it used to when it got its the nickname of "Little Vienna".
Arad is among the most active in Romania in terms of managing European funds. Please tell us about the most important EU-supported projects.
One can truly say that Arad is very active in accessing and managing European funds. For example, during the last five years there have been over 25 such projects, some in progress, some completed and others near completion.
Among the most important ones carried out with European funding, I would list the public transportation modernization and the acquisition of technical rolling stock, the development of leisure areas linked to the city, the implementation of electronic solutions in order to reduce bureaucracy, the cooperation in city digitization, the rehabilitation of cultural objects and a project to build a multifunctional centre for disadvantaged people from urban centres.
The Municipality is also implementing numerous socially-oriented initiatives. Please tell us more about the most important ones among them.
Indeed, Arad, like other Eastern European cities, faces socially related problems. This matter has been in the sight of the local administrations, for a long time now.
The high number of social housing flats available for people in need stands as a proof of our activity in this regard, as well as the monitoring and managing of social cases through our specialized structures. Integrating the socially disadvantaged people, either through special programs or, indirectly, with job offers generated through the continuous development of the industrial areas - all of these remain our most important policies.
What are your thoughts on TheMayor.EU portal as a unifying platform for Europe’s municipalities and how can it be useful to you and your citizens?
I think TheMayor.EU portal is an extremely useful tool from several points of view. First of all, it can be an important platform of communication for the European cities' administrations. Also, the experience that members can share throughout this portal can be of use for city management and also for the citizens.
Last but not least, this portal can and should be an opportunity to extend cultural, economic and social ties between European municipalities. And this is what the European Union seeks to do as much as possible, namely foster cohesion and solidarity.
Local elections will be held in Romania on Sunday. Will you run for the position of mayor again?
Yes, indeed, local elections are taking place in Romania this year and I am honoured to run for Arad’s mayor position as a representative of the ruling party. My main intention is to be able to continue and accomplish the planned projects and in this way emphasize the overall targets of the current national government.
To find out more about Arad, visit the profile of the municipality.
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