The concept of town twinning was born after the Second World War in 1951 with the foundation of the Association du Monde Bilingue (Association of the Bilingual World). This association, founded by Jean-Marie Bressand, member of the Résistance, promoted bilingual education as part of understanding between peoples and a vehicle for peace.
Town twinnings for reconciliation
Since 1946, first relations among cities have been setting up: Orléans twins with Dundee in Great Britain. In 1950, Montbéliard and Ludwigsburg sign the first German-French town twinning agreement. In 1963, the year in which the Elysée Treaty is signed, there are already 120 German-French twinnings.
Thanks to this strong political act which constitutes town twinning local deputies want to set up the basis for a new united Europe where the dialogue among the citizens would be a cornerstone.
Town twinnings for peace
At the beginning of the 1960s at the heart of the Cold War, French cities show solidarity with the peoples of Eastern Europe. Despite the official diplomacy, some local politicians want to « keep a window open » to these people.
At the same time, in 1957, Jean-Marie Bressand’s Association du Monde Bilingue changed its name into “Fédération Mondiale des Villes Jumelées” (World Federation of Twin Cities) that defines the cultural town twinning as:
“The link that unites, in a spirit of equality and reciprocity, entire nations of two or more countries to support personal contact, exchange ideas, techniques, products. It is an instrument of popular culture and international civic education, and it cannot be diverted from its purpose for personal or party political or political aims.” (Translation of the “Charte des villes jumelées “, 1957)
Town twinnings of cooperation
This form of twinning develops in the 1970’s with the appearance of the independent African countries and the emergence of the Third World in the international arena.
Expressing a North-South solidarity, twinning co-unites municipalities of industrialized and developing countries to establish a new form of cooperation, focusing on human relationships.