Oana Badea, Source: Aiud Municipality

The European Union is the best thing that has happened to Romania in the last 100 years

The European Union is the best thing that has happened to Romania in the last 100 years

Interview with Oana Badea, Mayor of Aiud Municipality in Romania

Iulia Adriana Oana Badea was born on 4th of March 1970 in Aiud. She began her professional career as a teacher. The desire to change the education system brought her to the position of Secretary of State at the Ministry of National Education. Oana Badea was elected Mayor of Aiud in 2016, in result of understanding the real needs of the community. She formed a team meant to change the face of the city.

Source: Aiud Municipality 

Mayor Badea, how would you describe Aiud briefly? What do you want our audience to know about it?  

Aiud, a city in the middle of Transylvania with a documentary attestation of 726 years, has long been the place where Romanians, Hungarians, Saxons, Russians and other ethnic groups have worked, created and coexisted in peace and harmony. Multiculturalism has blossomed here every spring.

Aiud benefits from all the necessary ingredients for an open city both from a touristic point of view and from an entrepreneurial point of view: a huge historical value due to a rich architectural and cultural heritage; an excellent geographical position in a corridor surrounded by the Transylvanian Plain, the Apuseni Mountains and the Târnavelor Plateau; and a local administration open to this times and all kind of new opportunities out of which the community can draw benefits. Above all, your audience must know that if they offer the kindness, in Aiud they will find friends. And that says it all.

In your opinion, what quality, inherent only to women, makes them good mayors?

I was given the chance to prove that the difference between a good mayor and an incompetent one is given by organization, perseverance and good faith, not gender. Competence has no gender dimension. The people from Aiud, through their vote, have proved that they choose women in positions of public responsibility, to the extent that they manage to convince. And, thank God, in Aiud, two ladies manage the destinies of the city because, as you probably already know, the deputy mayor is also a lady - Helga Lorincz. I say, without hesitation, that it is the parties that should encourage and allow women access to the electoral battle, because the society already knows what to do. I assure you that misogynism is more pronounced within the parties than in the rest of society. The hardest thing for a woman politician is winning the candidate status, not winning the election.

As a former teacher, you put a lot of effort into the social programs of the municipality. Please, tell us more about the most important ones.

Although I am a mayor, I have chosen to continue teaching a few hours a week because "the dream starts with a teacher who believes in you". I consider the school community the place from which many problems can be anticipated and solved.

Aiud City Hall works very well with NGOs that carry out programs or activities in the field of social assistance. We also support many of them financially. Thanks to these associations and not only, dozens of students have benefited and still benefit of scholarships, hundreds of families have benefited and still benefit of a daily bread, people with disabilities have benefited and still benefit from specialized therapy, and the examples can continue forever. In this sense, our community is an example of generosity, commitment and unconditional charity. A project dear to us it is the one regarding the prevention of school dropout, carried out in partnership with the Association "Orthodox Philanthropy" Alba Iulia, co-funded by the Swiss Contribution Fund and HEKS. During the program, 24 children receive a warm lunch and after the school program, for 4 hours they are helped in their homework and they take part to personal development activities.

Another example of good collaboration is the partnership we have with the Maltese Air Service in Romania. They carry out various social actions, such as the project "Bread every day", through which 40 families receive bread daily. This partnership has led to the project with European funding - 'Respect for the grandparents of the Aiud community', for which the overall objective is to increase the quality of life for at least 500 people through investments in facilities necessary for social infrastructure (the creation of a day center, a social canteens and a home care unit).

Share other good practices from your municipality. How do you finance them?

The investments we start are financed by the European Union, out of the local budget, from the national budget or from other sources of financing at international level. For example, in three years of mandate, we have submitted projects on European funds worth over 61 million Euros. Seven of these projects are already under implementation, two are waiting to be contracted and three are under evaluation. For comparison, the local budget of our municipality is about 9 million Euros.

An example of good practice is the close collaboration that we have with local NGOs. In 2018, when we have celebrated the Centenary of the Great Union, ASTRA Association organized a charity ball with the objective to raise money to buy a CT scan computer for the local hospital. The community gathered exemplarily around this project. The funds we have managed to raise through the ball, other donations, and the rest of the money paid by the Local Council made if possible, at the end of the year to have a CT scan computer at Aiud. This happened because of the beautiful people of the community, most of them volunteers for local associations.

Aiud has rich cultural offer and life, how do you promote it?

Indeed, we like to believe that Aiud is the cultural center of Alba county due to the events that are organized here. For a better understanding I will give you three examples: The International Festival of Folklore in Aiud is an event meant to appreciate and capitalize on the importance of different cultures through the amazing dances of the folk ensembles. The festival is included on the international map of CIOFF (International Council of Organizers of Folk and Folk Art Festivals), an official partner of UNESCO. In 2018, during the three days, the Festival gathered over 300 participants from 10 different countries. Another example is the International Symposium on Sculpture in Marble "100 - The Touch of Time", which was organized last year and brought to Aiud seven internationally renowned sculptors. This year we brought to Aiud the first edition of the "Festival of Craft Arts", an event attended by dozens of craftsmen from different corners of the country and abroad under the generous umbrella of multiculturalism. Such events enrich the cultural heritage of Aiud, but more importantly, they contribute to the preservation and perpetuation of traditional and cultural elements.

What do you think about a unified platform for European municipalities and its main goal to make and keep European citizens better informed about what is taking place in the European Union? How the portal can be useful to Aiud?

The European Union is the best thing that has happened to Romania in the last 100 years. I am convinced that this phrase is also valid for the other Member States. Too often we forget that because of the European Union we are among the first generations of people who did not live during wartime. We must appreciate and make the most of this political-economic Union, and for this, we must first of all be informed. By properly informing, your platform also puts a shoulder to the development of the European Union by bringing it closer to the citizens. A more developed Union closer to the citizens is a win for Aiud as well.

What are some of the main goals you want to achieve in the near future?

Our main objective is to increase the quality of life for the citizens of Aiud. In this respect we have a lot of backlogs to recover, left over from previous administrations. We try to recover this lost time by accessing as many European funds as possible so as to develop both the urban part of the municipality and the rural part. We work tirelessly on the development of the municipality, by modernizing kindergartens, crèches and schools, modernizing the Municipal Hospital, rehabilitating and modernizing roads and turning the city into a smart one.

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