Three years after the murder of Mayor Adamowicz of Gdańsk, Henriette Reker receives recognition for the excellence and courage of her work in promoting freedom, solidarity and equality in Cologne
Henriette Reker, the Mayor of Cologne, was today named as the first winner of an award created in honour of Mayor Paweł Adamowicz of Gdańsk, who was murdered in January 2019 while fulfilling his public duties.
The award was jointly set by the city of Gdańsk, of which Mr Adamowicz was mayor for 20 years, by the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) and by the European Committee of the Regions, of which he was a member. The award promotes the legacy of Mayor Adamowicz in defending democracy from the local level, and it serves as a tribute to and recognition for all those who act with courage and integrity against intolerance, radicalisation, hate speech, oppression and xenophobia.
Henriette Reker, the first woman to serve as Mayor of Cologne, was recognised for the courage and determination that she has shown over the past 20 years in promoting diversity, solidarity and integration as an integral part of Cologne’s identity. In 2015, Mayor Reker survived a knife attack motivated by her commitment for helping migrant communities and their integration. This act of violence has not dissuaded her from continuing to uphold her values in her public life and in the policies and projects that has championed.
Mayor Henriette Reker said: “I am proud to be chosen for this special award. Everything it stands for: all those values are also true matters of the heart to me. Violence never was and never will be a solution. It will always be the first step in a wrong direction. That is why we have to stand up for peace, for open dialogue and unitedness.”
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the region of Central Macedonia, said: “Mayor Paweł Adamowicz set a clear example of how politicians at all level must uphold our common European values. His legacy is a point of reference for mayors and regional leaders committed in fighting against intolerance. The Award pays tribute to Paweł Adamowicz’s dedication to his local community and it makes emerge and reward champions of democracy and defenders of our shared values.”
The Mayor of Gdańsk, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, said: “The Paweł Adamowicz Award is a tribute and recognition to individuals who are brave and fair in counteracting intolerance, radicalization, hate speech, terror and xenophobia. For those who promote equal opportunities, social inclusion and fundamental human rights in their communities and the world. For those who draw inspiration from the legacy of Paweł Adamowicz and take it further. Henriette Reker, the mayor of Cologne, is just such a brave and righteous person. Today she is elected the first laureate of the award bearing the name of Paweł Adamowicz. We hope that she will cherish the universal values for which Paweł Adamowicz gave his life.”
ICORN’s board president, Christopher Gribble, said: “ICORN enables cities around the world to provide safe havens for persecuted writers and artists, working together to advance freedom of expression, defend democratic values and promote international solidarity. Mayor Pawel Adamowicz fought for freedom and solidarity throughout his career, and brought his city into ICORN in 2017. We have been thrilled to work with the City of Gdansk and the EU Committee of the Regions to establish an award in his name, and congratulate Mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker as laureate of the first edition of the Mayor Pawel Adamowicz Award.”
The Mayor Paweł Adamowicz Award Ceremony, will take place on 27 January 2022 during a Plenary Session of the European Committee of the Regions.
Paweł Adamowicz was stabbed on 13 January 2019 while speaking at a charity event. He died from his injuries the following day. He was 53 years old. His murder was preceded by a rise in hate speech directed at him. His death prompted a debate about the contribution of the degeneration of public discourse to violence, extremism, propaganda and intolerance. His last words, uttered just before he was attacked, were: “Gdańsk is generous, Gdańsk shares its good, Gdańsk wants to be a city of solidarity. This is a wonderful time to share the good. You are loved. Gdańsk is the most wonderful city in the world. Thank you!”
Mr Adamowicz was committed to promoting the EU’s fundamental values, and was an active member of the European Committee of the Regions. In 2016, Mayor Adamowicz launched the Gdańsk ‘Immigrant Integration Model’ after meeting Pope Francis. It has served as a model that has inspired other Polish cities.
The European Committee of the Regions, as the political assembly of local and regional politicians in the EU and on the initiative of the Polish delegation, unanimously adopted a resolution on 7 February 2019 condemning hate speech and threats of all kinds against political leaders.
The International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) is an international organisation of 75 cities and regions in Europe and beyond, offering safe haven to persecuted writers and artists, advancing freedom of expression, defending democratic values and promoting international solidarity. More than 250 writers and artists have been offered residency in an ICORN city. In a safe environment, they continue to play a vital role, both in highlighting violations of human rights and free speech in their home countries, and in supporting colleagues in their country of origin. Mayor Pawel Adamowicz brought the City of Gdańsk into ICORN on 30 August 2017.
Source: Mayor of Cologne granted with the first Mayor Paweł Adamowicz Award (europa.eu)
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/nl/vectors/trofee-icoon-winnaar-winnen-beker-1674911/