Iron Curtain Trail Conference in Berlin

Created/updated 05.06.2018 12:25

On 4-5 May 2018 Vidzeme Tourism Association participated in the EuroVelo 13 – Iron Curtain Trail Conference held in the German federal parliament. Representatives of 20 European states came to Berlin to discuss how to improve the Iron Curtain Trail (ICT). Green Member of the European Parliament Michael Cramer was there to present this project which he has been actively involved in since 2005.

The ICT is the longest EuroVelo route, leading for more than 10,000 km from the Barents Sea to the Black Sea and even to the Thracian cities of Turkey, along the western border of the former Warsaw Pact states. It crosses 20 countries, 15 of which are members of the European Union. The ICT is truly unique among EuroVelo routes. It is a ride through European history, providing first-hand understanding of how the Iron Curtain shaped 20th century Europe. It also creates a sustainable way to visit the European Green Belt, an ecological network connecting natural parks, nature reserves, biosphere reserves, etc. along the Iron Curtain.

Michael Cramer is a member of the European Parliament and a member of The Greens. He can be considered the “father” of the ICT. It was thanks to his initiative that the European Parliament recognized the ICT as a model project for sustainable tourism in 2005. Since then, he has led the promotion and development of the route and realised some guidebooks. This event was an opportunity to discuss future developments of the route on a European, national, regional and local level.

On the agenda for the event’s first day were a few plenary speeches by key speakers – Marianne Birthler (former German Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records), Michael Cramer and Stefano Dominioni (Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes and Director of the European Institute of Cultural Routes) – and thematic discussions as well as workshops moderated by Adam Bodor, Advocacy and EuroVelo Director at ECF. The debates addressed the promotion of the ICT through the app, the website and social media, clarified long-term management projects both at the national and trans-national level, raised awareness of new development opportunities around the ICT, etc.

On the second day, Michael Cramer organised a guided cycle tour along parts of the Berlin Wall Trail, a 160-km circular route in Berlin that opened in 2004 thanks to Cramer’s efforts. Even though the Berlin Wall Trail is not part of the EuroVelo 13 per se, they are very close in spirit. The Berlin Wall Trail traces the former border fortifications’ course in West Berlin, along many sites of historic interest. Furthermore, the Trail served as a starting point for the development of the ICT.

Over the next 3 years VTA will actively promote the EV13 as a Culture Route with an aim to obtain the official CoE Culture Route status. 

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