The idea of town twinning was born about 50 years ago when the peoples of Europe realised the need for mutual reconciliation and cooperation between the citizens of neighbour states. The first contacts were essentially exchanges of experiences in the area of local life. Today, town twinning has grown into a movement linking municipalities in several European countries to a dense and organised network of towns, cities, villages and citizens in all continents.

With the establishment of local councils in 1993 town twinning was introduced through local government legislation. In terms of Article 79 of the Local Councils Act (Chap.363) "A local council shall have the right to make twinning arrangements with any city, town, village or other locality in any other country; provided that any twinning between a city, town or village and another locality in any other country shall require the approval of the minister (for local government) which shall be given after the (Local Councils) Association has given the minister its opinion on such proposed twinning; provided also that in establishing the twinning of localities, consideration shall be given to the status of the localities in the other country with which twinning is being proposed, such that the capital or a former capital city of Malta shall only be twinned with a capital or former capital of another country, and a city shall, as far as possible, only be twinned with another city".

The procedure is also regulated by the Local Councils (Association) Regulations (subsidiary legislation 363.06, Legal Notice 153 of 1994). In terms of Regulation 26 the association is to advise the minister on town twinning and " ... In establishing the twinning of localities consideration shall be given to the status of the localities due to be twinned..." as also stated in the Act.

A chronological list by the date of ministerial approval may be viewed in the government website www.justice.gov.mt/twinnings.asp.

The first approval was granted to Birkirkara local council on April 12, 1995 for twinning with Sorrento in Italy. Twinning, however, fully materialises when the agreement is signed in both states though the European Union recognises twinning if the agreement is signed by both mayors in one municipality.

For some reason Birkirkara and Sorrento have not signed any agreement as yet. Consequently, the first twinning in Malta has to be attributed to Mellieha local council which has actually signed both agreements with Adenau in Germany after obtaining approval on September 26, 1995.

Perhaps the website should also include details on when agreements are signed locally and abroad.

So far, 46 ministerial approvals have been granted to 38 local councils. Most of these twinnings have been made with Italian communes as can be seen in the list below compiled according to the foreign state and the year when the approval was granted. Bilateral agreements between two municipalities may also be in place when, for some reason, actual twinning is not possible.

If pursued with enthusiasm by local councils, and provided council funds are used with great care and industry, twinnings can be very beneficial to all residents. Opportunities will be made available for frequent exchanges on cultural, educational, sports and other activities between the two municipalities.

It allows citizens from different countries to meet and learn about each other's culture, history and socio-economic reality.

It also involves citizens closely in reflection and discussion on the future of Europe and other states. Links which stimulate active participation of citizens are intensified.

Local council twinning approvals

Italy (Mainland)

Birkirkara - Sorrento: 1995
Msida - Monte Argentario: 1997
Luqa - Amalfi: 1997
Ta' Xbiex - Pescara: 1998
Nadur - Cicciano: 2000
San Lawrenz - Colle Umberto: 2001
Birkirkara - Grosseto: 2001
Xewkija - Castel Venere: 2002
Gharb - Gerano: 2002
Rabat - Tarquino: 2002
Senglea - Cassino: 2002
Xaghra - Offida: 2003
Kercem - Orvieto: 2003
Nadur - Baveno: 2004
Attard - Pieve Emanuele: 2004
Marsaxlokk - Cadeo: 2004

Italy (Sicily)

Zebbug (M) - Agira: 1997
Attard - Licata: 1997
Zabbar - Villabate: 1997
Swieqi - Taormina: 2000
Qala - Sta Marina Salina: 2000
San Giljan - Milazzo: 2001
Victoria - Palermo: 2002
San Gwann - Monreale: 2002
Zebbug (G) - Maletto: 2002
Dingli - Petrosino: 2002
Siggiewi - Vittoria: 2003
Sannat - Montefiascone: 2004
Mosta - Ragusa: 2004
Munxar - Ragalna: 2004
San Marino
Zurrieq - Borgo Maggiore: 1999

Germany

Mellieha - Adenau: 1995
Zabbar - Eschborn: 1998

United States of America

Mosta - Millbrae, California: 1996
Paola - Paola Kansas City: 2003

Cyprus

Zurrieq - Morphou: 1999
St Paul's Bay - Larnaca: 2002

Greece

Gzira - Glyfada: 2000

China

Sta Lucija - Jin Chang, Suzhon: 2000
Cospicua - Yancheng: 2002

Poland

Gzira - Walzbrych: 2000

Wales

Pembroke - Pembroke: 2001
Pembroke - Pembroke Dock Town: 2002

France

Sliema - Les Sables D'Olonne: 2002

Romania

Sta Lucija - Tulcea: 2004

Spain

Zejtun - Tocina: 2004

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