40 Years of Understanding and Friendship

by Erhard Schäfer, Chairman of the Partnerschaftsvereinigung West Lothian – Hochsauerlandkreis e. V.

Erhard SchäferEncouraging contact and bringing people together – this is the idea of our partnership. In 1972 the District of West Lothian and the Kreis Arnberg agreed to enter into a partnership. 40 years of partnership: This has created a connection between German and Scottish people – between West Lothian and the Hochsauerlandkreis ­ and has led to a deeper understanding of each other. What we take for granted today, started off as an initiative of a few  who dared to enter virgin territory.

What were the goals of the founding fathers of our association? This is what it says in our articles of association:

  • Establishing and maintaining friendly relations.
  • Striving for mutual understanding and respect for each other.
  • Encouraging youth clubs, adult associations, and the entire population of both districts to get in touch with each other and to exchange visits, in order to develop personal and cultural relations, and to establish a foundation of respect and friendship between the people of West Lothian and the Hochsauerlandkreis, which will last for all times.

The former President of the Federal Republic of Germany Richard von Weizsäcker once said:“Friendship cannot be forced – it has to grow”. Partnership means looking at others with different eyes and entering their world, unconditionally and unprejudiced. Partnership means taking seriously what is serious to others and being able to laugh at what they laugh. Partnership means listening to the opinions and judgements of others and accepting them even if they do not correspond to one`s own values. Today our partnership is deeply rooted in the awareness of the people of both associations. 40 years of activity, in particular numerous exchange visits and cultural cooperation, have contributed to reaching this goal.
It has encouraged and supported exchanges and taught us a lot:

  • Where there is exchange, understanding develops.
  • Where there is understanding, friendship develops.
  • Where there is friendship, peace prevails.

I would like to thank you for all your efforts and your commitment. May the future of the partnership between the Council West Lothian and the Hochsauerlandkreis be as exciting and succesful as in the past.