2012 EMIL Award

2012 EMIL Award

Prof. Jerzy Buzek received today the 2012 Award of the European Milestone for Innovation and Effort (EMIL) granted for the outstanding commitment for Europe. The award is handed in every 2 years in Paderborn (North-Rhine Wesphalia) - a partner city of Przemyśl for nearly 20 years.

In his acceptance speech prof. Buzek said:

"Sehr geehrter Herr Bürgermeister Paus,
Sehr geehrte Doktor Kurth,
Sehr geehrter Herr Krugmann,
Sehr geehrter Doktor Albert,
Sehr geehrter Elmar Brok,
Exzellenzen, meine Damen und Herren,

I am grateful for the kind words and truly honoured to receive the 2012 Award of the European Milestone for Innovation and Effort (Europäischer Meilenstein für Innovation und Leistung).

Being a Pole born during the occupation, who spent most of his life in a homeland enslaved by a Communist regime; as an active member of the Solidarność movement since its beginning in the 1980’s until 1989; a politician who actively worked for the European path of my country; as Member of the European Parliament and its first President from Central and Eastern Europe – I see this prize awarded today as a recognition of all the efforts which aimed to bring out of oblivion what Doctor Albert referred to in his speech here in 2010 as the "forgotten half of Europe". But even more, I see this prize as a recognition of all the efforts to see Europe truly united and breathing with both lungs. As a recognition for the fulfilment of that call made by the late Pope John Paul II in his address to the European Parliament in 1988.

In history, in politics, in life in general – great accomplishments can not be merely a cause for satisfaction. That too – but above all, they must be the foundation on which further – perhaps greater achievements – must be sought.

Today’s ceremony gives us the opportunity to look into the future, trying to see how our achievement to date oblige us to make further efforts in meeting the challenges ahead. What other milestones – to take from the name of the award – lie ahead of Europe.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In its history, European integration saw two turning points which were of crucial importance. They have shaped the European Union as we know today. The first one, was its birth in the 1950’s. The second, was the decision of its great enlargement and the unification of the two parts of our continent – the East and the West.

The European Union was founded 60 years ago on a historic reconciliation between France and Germany. At that time, the reconciliation between the two nations would in fact come to symbolise the reconciliation of all democratic Europe. Reconciliation was equally the fundament of that second turning point in European Union’s history. The true reunification of the continent needed the reconciliation between Poles and Germans. Yet the Polish-German reconciliation was all the more difficult, as it concerned nations which in the post-war decades remained divided by the Iron Curtain.

The experience of reconciliation - so fundamental for the European Union - would not be possible without a political vision and determination. We, Europeans, must carry forward the legacy of that political vision and determination which guided Chancellor Adenauer, Helmut Kohl, President De Gaulle and Mitterrand, which guided the Polish and German Bishops, Chancellor Brandt and the first independently elected Prime Minister of Poland, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, and so many more who came with them and after them.

Yet that vision and determination was never only about symbols. It was always equally about concrete initiatives and undertakings at all levels. The experience of reconciliation, and founding on it of a true European community of nations and citizens, would not be possible without the courage, resolve and enthusiasm of dedicated extra-ordinary citizens. It would not be meaningful without those who reached out to others, reached across borders, against divides to create a true partnership of citizens. They all – and by that I mean to include you Bürgermeister Paus, Doktor Kurth, Mr Krugmann, Doktor Albert, and many others, with all the initiatives that reach out to partner cities and regions, organisations, peoples - you represent the universal and civic value of the Polish-German partnership and reconciliation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

For nearly 20 years, since 1993 your town, Paderborn has been a partner of Przemyśl – a town in South-Eastern Poland. Your cooperation, youth exchanges between partner schools, joint cultural events, training and exchange of practices between local authorities, the work of the Association of Friends of Paderborn/Przemyśl established in 1994 – all those are perfect, concrete examples of that reconciliation, of the spirit of European cooperation and integration.

As the then Prime Minister of Poland, whose government initiated an important administrative reform creating new regions in Poland, and which carried forward Poland’s integration with the EU at all levels – I was present in 2000 at the signing ceremony of the partnership between my region, Silesia, and your Land, North Rhine-Westphalia. The past months have seen numerous initiatives – conferences, seminars, events, meetings held here and in my country – as part of the 2011/2012 Year of cooperation between North Rhine-Westphalia and Poland. There are some 140 partnerships between the various local authorities and between civic organisations in your Land and in Poland. This is the most intensive cooperation that Poland has with any other region in Germany! Equally, in no other one can find so many Poles, or Germans of Polish origin living side by side with their neighbours, contributing to the well-being of their communities here in Germany.

All those examples are the a most concrete contributions and a practical dimension of the Polish-German reconciliation - dimension in which the citizens take part - Poles, Germans, Europeans. They stand as the very symbol of civic Europe, and the true achievement of European integration. This is also why today’s ceremony, and the award is of unique value for me personally.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Our cooperation on all levels, naturally reflects on the overall relations between our two countries. It is the true flesh, the essence of that relationship. We know it well in the European Parliament, where our joint work reflects on local initiatives – those closest to our citizens, but also on those that shape the entire European Union, and those that reach beyond its borders. I am sure my colleague, Elmar Brok who Chairs the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs will agree, that our cooperation in the European Parliament element of the partnership between our countries that is a partnership for Europe!
Last year, on the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Polish-German Treaty, we reviewed our joint achievements and the state of our bilateral relations. But it was equally an occasion to offer answers to the question of what can Poland and Germany do jointly in Europe, and for Europe.

Allow me to underline - today, two countries should not measure the state of their cooperation merely by their bilateral relations, but rather by their joint contribution to a common, European good. With the partnership – partnership at all levels - our countries are uniquely called upon to prevent new divisions in Europe and to work towards Europe's true integration.

Dear Friends,
Reconciliation which goes together with efforts aimed at an open exchange of views, goes beyond the bounds of the past. Reconciliation which goes together with efforts aimed at putting forward a joint vision that reaches beyond the borders of the two states - a vision for Europe - is the true measure of our partnership. It constitutes the true value of our relations - a value for Europe and its citizens, thus the most profound value for both nations.

The current debt crisis in the European Union has further uncovered a far-reaching convergence of the German and Polish "culture of stabilisation. The data on economic growth in Europe prove that very point. Poland's economic policies have been duly noted by the most prominent media in Germany. To the surprise of some, Poland has stopped to be seen as "a problem" and come to be recognised as "part of the solution" to Europe's problems.

You all must have heard the phrase: polnische Wirtschaft. It used to signify bad economy. I am convinced that the experience of the past years has significantly changed the meaning of that phrase – particularly here, where the cooperation with Polish partners has been so intensive.

This mutual convergence in policies of both countries - in the economic realm - has also brought about a fundamental change in values. The concept of solidarity - whose profound understanding has been Poland's unique contribution to the core of European values, was complemented and completed by a new value: responsibility. That is the contribution of the German discourse on European politics: there is no solidarity without responsibility.

It is thus on many levels that we can see the significance of the Polish-German partnership for Europe. It was the essence of Poland's presidency on the European Council last year.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
All those achievements – at all levels – must motivate us to do more, to look forward. As is the case with all values, also reconciliation requires our constant care. It is not given to us once and for all! It is an obligation for us, for our continuous efforts! European Union is also such an obligation. We must therefore ask, what can Poles and Germans, together, give Europe?

Can we bring about a third phase of European integration? I believe our joint responsibility - the joint responsibility of Germans and Poles - for advancing European integration, for making the third key step on the path of European integration - that responsibility is enormous.

This challenge can not be met without active participation of local authorities, nor without true civic involvement. This potential must be recognised and mobilized – not for its own sake, but for Europe. This is why I believe we need to create a European Civic Space – a call I have been making as the President of the European Parliament, and which
I continue to carry forward. Europe must make a better use of the potential that lies in local communities and civic initiatives and have that potential reflect on European debate and most of all on European policies – at all levels.

Beyond engaging the civic and the local community spirit, I see two important areas in which this dimension of local Polish-German cooperation should be the cornerstone of a stronger European Union.

First of all, it can help counter "pathologies" in the EU, counter the protectionist inclinations, populism, renationalisation, preserving the fundamental European values - tolerance, openness, cooperation. Local communities and civic engagement that turn trans-regional, cross-border cooperation into a reality, must be the foundation on which Europe builds the strength to put its own instruments in place and safeguard us from the worst.

Yet this cooperation must go even beyond the borders of today’s European Union. The experience of rich and meaningful cooperation between the local communities of the two countries must be the basis for engaging with other partners in EU’s neighbourhood. We want the European standards of political, economic and social life to encompass further millions of Europeans and non-Europeans in our neighbourhood, beyond our immediate borders. We need to uphold the openness of the European project – especially towards its prospective members in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

So clearly we see today, the importance of supporting local and civic structures in EU's immediate vicinity - in the East and in the South. Doctor Albert, whose work in that region has been recognised by you in 2010 stands here as a symbol of the importance of that project. Our countries must play the leading role promoting it.

Poland must be ready to offer its experience of democratic transition – a unique experience of rebuilding local and regional structures. Germany in turn can bring in its economic weight and its unique ability no mobilise civic initiatives - from bottom up. I am convinced that the experience of your town – Paderborn – and its cooperation in Przemyśl can have a unique value for engaging in local initiatives in Ukraine for example.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am grateful to you not only for the EMIL Award, but also for giving me the opportunity to offer some thoughts on Polish-German cooperation and its value for the European Union as I see it.

You gave me this opportunity not only be giving me the time to speak, but foremost, by giving me a good example to speak about – in form of your strong ties with your Polish partners. And it is also for that cooperation, which you have been keeping alive, I am much grateful to you – as a person who, just as Doctor Albert, could never accept Europe forgetting any of its parts; and as a person who could never accept Europeans forgetting about Europe and its well-being.

Thank you!"