The city has always been the “Gateway to the East” and rapidly became an important economic centre. In the 90ies Cottbus evolved into an interesting university, trade fair and conference town. The East-West German town twinning agreement was signed in the presence of both Lord Mayors in Saarbrücken on 12 May 1987. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 special emphasis was put on sharing experiences in energy supply, data processing, health care, architecture, civil engineering surveying, social work and social security law. Today the twinning partnership thrives on exchange programmes for artists, choirs, athletes, clubs and associations.