Moves to twin Bath with Ethiopian city
A proposal to twin Bath with a city in Ethiopia has been discussed by councillors.
The Ethiopian ambassador Berhanu Kebede visited the city this week to meet the Mayor of Bath and discuss the possibility of a twinning arrangement with the city of Hawassa.
He was taken to Fairfield House, in Newbridge, which was the home of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie during an exile in the UK between 1936 and 1941. It is this historic link which is the driving force behind the proposal to secure a formal bond between Bath and the African city.
Mr Kebede said: "We know this history of this city and how our emperor used to live here and we want to establish a relationship with this historic city.
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"I have heard from people that the emperor was thankful to the people of Bath during his time of trials and the people of Bath gave him full hospitality and support."
He added that there were common links between Hawassa and Bath, with any possible twinning arrangement allowing them to build on the fact that they are both tourist destinations.
"An issue which needs to be addressed is how to forge a win-win situation. I'm sure we can find a common ground where the two cities can benefit from this relationship."
Mayor Bryan Chalker, who as the chairman of the Charter Trustees will be involved with the decision on whether Bath should be twinned with Hawassa, said he was supportive of the idea.
He said: "It is a wonderful idea. Particularly in view of the fact that Haile Selassie was given the freedom of the city. He still commands a tremendous amount of respect, so to have his excellency and his aides with us today is a privilege.
"I'm always supportive of anything to promote relationships between different countries and cultures."
The Charter Trustees of the City of Bath, a body which is made up of councillors, has responsibility for twinning links and it will be their decision if a new link with Hawassa is given the go-ahead.
It is not known how long the decision-making process is likely to take, but the plans are at an early stage and the group met to discuss the proposal for the first time this week.
The last city to be officially twinned with Bath was Alkmaar, in the Netherlands, which after a long period of informal links signed an arrangement 22 years ago.