October 17, 2008
The two countries started a series of joint Cabinet meetings in 2003. One of the proposals on next week’s agenda to co-ordinate ambulance and firefighting units around the border, using the nearest facility regardless the national territory for 112 calls.
The two countries had historically tense relationships and territorial disputes in the early 20th century. The two governments, in the spririt of German-French post-war reconciliatory measures have decided to hold regular common meetings, improve history teaching in schools about the two country’s past and to focus on bilateral issues that are otherwise not covered by EU.
It will be a historical step that Southeastern Hunary and Western Romania, which is a historically multi-ethnic region of Romanians, Hungarians, Serbs, Germans and other groups, will be served by a coordinated emergency service even before Romania joins the Schengen Zone. I think that this measure is not highly symbolic, but also very useful: Békés County, which has the longest border stretch with Romania, has no major cities, and it is one of the least densely populated and poorest part of Hungary. Access to Romanian facilities will certainly save lives. And as the border was not very elaborately designed after the WWI, there are parts on the Romanian side, especially further up North, that may be better served from Hungary.
The services will be accessible through the EU-wide harmonized 112 call number (that is not covering Bulgaria yet). Hungary has one of the most developed systems in the EU, that also had been taking calls in the border areas on the languages of the neighboring country – a common feature in Central European emergency telephone centers but not in Western Europe. The Romanian system was implemented with a delay – there is a pending EU infringment process in the matter – and certainly co-operation with Hungary may help to other country’s agencies to improve their services.Dániel Antal