Twinning Sanlúcar
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From 20th till to 22th may
Elisabeth Park
In front of the Basilica of Koekelberg
Koekelberg - Sanlúcar de Barrameda
Since the 1st June 1999, the municipalities of Koekelberg and Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cadiz) have seen their bond strengthened after the signature of the twinning agreement between both city councils.

Following the success of the 1997 Feria, jointly organised by the Peña Arte y Cultura de Andalucía de Bruselas (PACA) and the Koekelberg municipality, Mr Federico Gallo, chairman of PACA and Mr Jean-Pierre De Keyn, Koekelberg’s alderman for Europe, asked the representation of the “Junta of Andalusia” in Brussels to look for a potential partner of the Koekelberg’s municipality in Andalusia.

Sanlúcar de Barrameda: The story of a twinning
The beginning, as often happens, was not easy. The project required planning and above all someone of high rank qualified to carry it out. Mrs. Concha Gutiérrez, then representative of the “Junta of Andalusia” in Brussels, was asked to select the city best suited to this project and to obtain European subventions in order to achieve the twinning between the two cities. She was assisted by Mrs. Claudia Zafra, then Vice-Consejera of Culture of the Junta, who was prospecting for new funds in order to develop this project.

The city they eventually selected was Sanlúcar de Barrameda, located in the north-western coast of the province of Cadiz, next to the mouth of the Guadalquivir river, and in front of the National Park of Doñana.

Why Sanlúcar of Barrameda?
When asked, Mr. Jean-Pierre De Keyn, the Koekelberg’s Alderman for Europe, declared that Sanlúcar had the technical know-how necessary to organise an authentic festival. The ‘feria’ of Sanlucar was a true institution and much more than an international celebration mixing music, wine and horses. Moreover, bordering on the superb natural reserve Doñana, Sanlucar is a city drenched in the beaming sunshine that so many long for.

Mr. Federico Gallo, former chairman of the “Peña Art and Culture of Andalusia of Brussels” and current Chairman of the EuroFeria Andaluza, explained that this twinning is essentially a gesture of friendship between the two municipalities. He added “This twinning will allow us to preserve the Andalusian spirit of the EuroFeria, premise of this typically Spanish event”.

An invitation: the Euroferia Andaluza of Brussels; a project: the twinning with a Andalusian locality; a city: Sanlúcar de Barrameda. On the17 of November 1998, during the first preparatory meeting of the Euroferia '98, the twinning was announced to the Organizational Committee of the fair and all its participants: “Koekelberg and Sanlúcar will become twin cities”.

The first contact between both municipalities, key to later agreements, took place at the beginning of 1998, with the visit of Mr Jean-Pierre de Keyn and Mr Federico Gallo to Sanlucar de Barrameda. There they were received by Mr. Agustín Cuevas Batista, then mayor of Sanlúcar. At the time, Mrs. Bárbara Castañuela and Mr. Pedro Grimaldi were respectively alderwoman and Head of the Cabinet of Press of Sanlúcar.

Proof of the friendship between both parties was the entrance of Sanlúcar de Barrameda in the “Eurocontacts '98” competition for design and photography, organised since 1996 by the “Mayor and the Aldermen of Koekelberg, Belgium”. The first prize was awarded to Natalia Perez, a 9-years old from Sanlucar, for a drawing of the Guadalquivir River with horses.

On their second visit (22 - 24 May 1998), they enjoyed meeting the President of the Andalusia Junta, Mr. Manuel Chaves, discovered the Manzanilla Fair and visited the Barbadillo Warehouses. Various personalities from Brussels have had the opportunity to come back and were welcomed in the city of Sanlúcar.

Similarly, and in order to strengthen the existing connection, on June 11 of that same year, various personalities from Sanlúcar de Barrameda visited Brussels to attend the EuroFeria '98. This visit allowed for the signature of the twinning agreement between Koekelberg and Sanlúcar in the Belgian capital. The signing took place on Saturday the13 of June 1998 at the Koekelberg town hall.

However, it took a whole year before the second agreement could be signed on the1 of June 1999, at the Sanlucar town hall, during the visit of a Koekelberg delegation to Sanlúcar de Barrameda (29 May - 3 June 1999).

The first connection between both municipalities, strengthened by this twinning agreement, allowed for valuable human, commercial and cultural interactions.

Every year, Koekelberg’s inhabitants visit their twinning city creating deep personal ties.

Presently, the ties uniting the municipalities of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and Koekelberg are being further reinforced thanks to Mr. Juan Rodríguez Romero, current Mayor of Sanlucar (year 2000) and Mr. Jean-Pierre de Keyn, Koekelberg’s Alderman for Europe.

© 2005 EuroFeria Andaluza a.s.b.l.