Patrik Pizinger: Covid-19 reminded us to protect the weaker and more vulnerable
Interview with the Mayor of Chodov, Czechia
- 4 juni 2020 11:30
- Aseniya Dimitrova
Patrik Pizinger has been mayor of Chodov since 2014 and has been involved in communal politics since 2000. He also represents the region of Karlovy Vary at the European Committee of the Regions.
Ms Pizinger, would you tell us a few words about Chodov: which are your preferred places, what do you like the most about your town?
Chodov is a pleasant city that is currently undergoing change. Coal mining is ending here and our surroundings are being reclaimed. This creates a beautiful landscape. Personally, I really like the dump, which turns into a large part of the landscape, with great sport possibilities.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused dramatic changes in the ways we live, work and communicate with each other. What will the remaining months of 2020 will look like for your municipality and community, in your opinion?
COVID has changed a lot. It reminded us of our vulnerability. We will definitely have to think more about how we live in the future, how we behave and we will definitely have to change our lifestyle.
Would you say that the pandemic has strengthened the sense of social connection between the citizens of Chodov? Which municipal initiatives in the last weeks were aimed at improving the well-being of the inhabitants and at motivating them to respect the restrictions in place?
YES. The epidemic has aroused great solidarity. It reiterated to us the need to foster as a society and protect the weaker and more vulnerable.
The inhabitants woke up with a desire to help and be beneficial to others. I see this as one of the positive aspects.
We, as representatives, showed even more how to communicate with the inhabitants. We have improved information through electronic media, the availability, while the timeliness and comprehensibility of the information provided have helped to increase the population's understanding of the measures taken and reduce the feeling of fear.
The coronavirus crisis caused a significant decrease in the municipal budget. Is it clear yet which investments will be put on hold and which will continue, despite the changed circumstances?
Yes. We need to adjust our investment and spending priorities. Our financial planning has been responsible and always subject to balanced management.
Unfortunately, we will not avoid postponing investments for 2020, which are spread out over several years, and at the moment it is not clear whether the city will have the funds to complete them in the coming years.
This year you were nominated to represent your region at the European Committee of the Regions, the institution which gives voice to the local and regional authorities in the EU. Do you intend to put any specific issues on the EU agenda?
In total, I want to address 3 topics. Our region is a region that is leaving coal mining and processing. Thanks to this, we will undergo a relatively extensive transformation.
I also live in the border region. We are adjacent to the Federal Republic of Germany. I am also the co-president of Euregia Egrensis. I see cross-border cooperation as important. It is one of the pillars of European cooperation and should be significantly strengthened in the coming years. It was the course of the COVID epidemic and the dramatically rapid closure of borders between states that was the warning signal.
Personally, I am also convinced that inter-municipal cooperation is of great importance, and here I would like to bring my experience to the CoR. In these areas, I would like to benefit the CoR and my goal is to represent our region in this way.
Is there any project or an innovative practice from your town that you believe is worth sharing with the other mayors in the European Union?
Yes. We have experience that has its roots in the bitter post-war years. The Second World War and the development after it left a bitter mark in the history of our city.
Our city lies in the so-called Sudetenland. This has affected both the development and the current state.
Through careful work with history, traditions and communication, I think that we have managed to create a bridge between the past and the present, we can heal historical wounds and especially the current population, which simply does not have its historical roots in this area, manages to identify with the region, to consider it their home. I consider this to be socially important and I believe that we can share our experience.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievements since stepping into office?
My goal is to make Chodov a city where all its inhabitants live well. It may sound like an enema, but it's true.
Only a satisfied resident will be proud of his city, will be involved and will want to help with its administration and management. That's what I follow and that's how I make decisions. Every decision, every investment should, in my view, be aimed at the common good and should be made with regard to the inhabitants of Chodov.
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