The Interreg Cooperation Day was held in the framework of the Interreg Slovenia-Hungary cross-border programme on Saturday 23 September 2023 at Bukovniško jezero, Dobrovnik, Slovenia. We presented the results and importance of cross-border cooperation projects in the cross-border area and bearing in mind that this year’s slogan is the European Year of Skills, we organised workshops to show how important skills-related activities are, especially in connection with nature and cultural heritage.

The Interreg Cooperation Day takes place every year in September and was first organized by the European Commission in 2012, in cooperation with Interact, to encourage European territorial (cross-border, transnational and interregional) cooperation programmes to present projects and their results to a wider public by organizing events of a purely local nature. The Interreg Cooperation Day reminds the general public that we can overcome the borders that stand between us by working together.

This year’s Interreg Cooperation Day was organised at Bukovniško jezero in Slovenia on Saturday 23 September, with the participation of more than 160 Slovenian and Hungarian people. The whole-day event took place under the auspices of the Ministry of Cohesion and Regional Development, the Managing Authority of the Interreg Slovenia-Hungary cross-border cooperation programme. The results of three projects were in the focus:  Tele-Ka-land, Gard-EN and Wine picnic projects. These three projects are a good example of successful cross-border cooperation in the fields of promotion of natural and cultural heritage as well as sustainable development of border regions.

The participants at the Cultural Centre in Dobrovnik were welcomed by dr. Aleksander Jevšek, Minister of the Ministry of Cohesion and Regional Development of the Republic of Slovenia, who underlined that the essence of Interreg programmes was cross-border cooperation and good neighbourly relations. Marjan Kardinar, Mayor of Dobrovnik (SI) and László Horváth, Mayor of Lenti (HU) added that without such programmes several good projects would not be realized. On behalf of the Managing Authority of the Interreg Programme Slovenia-Hungary Aleš Mrkela underlined that by respecting diversity, we create cross-border programmes that are among the most successful ones in the European Union. The introductory part was enriched by the children’s choir of the bilingual elementary school Dobrovnik and singers from Dobrovnik Nótázók.

Project partners of the Wine Picnic project highlighted the importance of the wine tourism in this cross-broader area, to which they contributed with the creation of the innovative, sustainable, cross-border, integrated and comprehensive wine tourism product based on the existing tourist infrastructure, which includes natural and cultural values. Participants could also visit the wine cellar renovated from the project.

The event continued at Bukonivško jezero. Here we had an opportunity to listen to presentations of two other cross-border projects, namely Tele-Ka-land where project partnership established a network of fairytale parks called TELE-KA-LAND, with the desire that different generations visit this cross-border area and GardEN, where 5 gardens and 5 related products were developed. Thanks to these two projects participating children could have fun and try their hand at the great many wooden toys, which included board and skill games.

In order to take into account the activities of the European Year of Skills, participants have been introduced to the mysteries of craftsmanship at different workshops in which they could develop their manual skills, they could also learn about herbs, taste the syrups and teas that can be made from mint, lemongrass and other plants, and got to know the recipe how to prepare them.

Due to the rainy weather, only the most courageous people were willing to take part in the 4.5 km walk on the energy route created under the GardEN project. It was also possible to get on the tourist train and have a look around in the area. During the different workshops and the games or on the tourist train even friendships were formed, which is one of the most important benefits of the Slovenian-Hungarian cooperation.

The general aim of the event is to raise awareness of the importance of cooperation and to present some of the project results to the general public and all interested parties. The number of participants in these events each year shows that, despite their small size, cross-border cooperation programmes are becoming more and more visible every year, and the results of the co-financed projects are an indispensable part of the development and improvement of the quality of life in the cross-border area.

Aleš Mrkela, Head of the Managing Authority, pointed out: „Cooperation is not only established, it is built gradually and is based on trust, which must be carefully nurtured. After all, this is the purpose of today’s event”.

Short film of the event:

Photo gallery: