Brussels, Belgium, 27 January 2022 – Henriette Reker, Mayor of Cologne (Germany) and member of Efus’ Executive Committee, has received the first ever Pawel Adamowicz Award in recognition for “the excellence and courage of her work in promoting freedom, solidarity, equality and diversity”, during a ceremony at the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) in Brussels, on 27 January.
Named after the Mayor of Gdansk (Poland), who was fatally stabbed while he was on stage attending a charity concert in Poland in 2019, the award was jointly created by the CoR, the City of Gdansk and the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), which the Polish city joined under the mayorship of Mr Adamowicz.
“Commitment to equality and diversity”
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the Committee of the Regions, commended Ms Reker – who herself suffered a knife attack in 2015 – for “having displayed courage and commitment to championing equality, integration and diversity within not only Cologne, but also European society, and enriched Cologne’s identity by preserving, defending and promoting fundamental values.”
Mark Speich, Secretary of State for Federal, European and International Affairs for the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia, stressed that the Cologne mayor’s “values and tenacity are completely in line with [those of] Pawel Adamowicz,” in particular through her policies aimed at tackling inequalities in education, monitoring intolerance and hate speech in Cologne’s society, and developing housing schemes for migrants and refugees.
“We will stand up to hate”
Mayor Reker declared that she accepted the award “on behalf of all the men and women of Cologne who are committed to cohesion in their city” and that it is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard peace and tolerance in Europe. “It is regrettable that we still live in a world in which standing up for pluralistic societies can lead to deadly consequences. Our response to such medieval symbolism can only be that we will not hate, we will not be intimidated by such threats, we shall take them as an impetus to stand up to hate,” she said
A yearly award for European mayors who promote tolerance
Championing solidarity, fundamental human rights and diversity, the prize is intended to be awarded annually to a European mayor or city leader whose work reflects such European values. As such, it is a tribute to Mayor Pawel Adamowicz whose “heritage will be forever preserved in the European Union,” said the President of the Committee of the Regions.