Michałowo and its citizens, together with the help of NGOs, provided clothing, warm meals, and accommodation to refugees who found themselves stranded between Poland and Belarus. Temporary housing in the municipality has also served families from Ukraine since the Russian invasion in March 2022.
The news was announced at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk on Friday 13th January 2023. The award will be officially presented to the Mayor of Michałowo Marek Nazarko on 8th February 2023 during the plenary session of the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels.
Upon the announcement of the 2022 edition of The Mayor Paweł Adamowicz Award, The Mayor of Michałowo Marek Nazarko said:
‘It is an amazing surprise because it was already a great honour for us just to be nominated for this award. To win the Paweł Adamowicz Award is a great privilege and source of pride for me as the head of the municipality. I would like to thank the award committee and the European Committee of the Regions. I would also like to congratulate all the nominees – we were in highly esteemed company. Above all, I am proud of our local people because we were able put into practice the values that the European Union brings, indeed, that humanity brings, and really bring them to life. As historian Marian Turski said – heed the 11th commandment: thou shalt not be indifferent! And in the words of Mayor Paweł Adamowicz: share the good – that is what's most important.'
There was a special mention to one of the nominees, Oleksandr Babich, the Mayor of Hola Prystan in the south of Ukraine, as a representative of all Ukrainian mayors who have been kidnapped or tortured since the start of the Russian invasion. Babich himself has been held captive since March 2022 for trying to protect his local community.
Robert Piaskowski, Plenipotentiary for Culture of the Mayor of the City of Krakow, and ICORN Board Member, whose city Krakow nominated the The Municipality of Michałowo for the Award said:
‘We have nominated not a big city, we have nominated a small Municipality, and in fact a collective winner: the inhabitants and the Mayor representing them. The example of Michałowo shows how the human collective can act in a special time. Nobel Prize winner Wisława Szymborska, whose birth centenary we are celebrating this year, wrote in one of her poems ‘We know as much about ourselves as we have been tested.’’
On the winner of the 2022 edition of the Award, The President of the European Committee of the Regions, Vasco Alves Cordeiro remarked:
‘Mayor Pawel Adamowicz lost his life for standing up for the values of freedom, solidarity and equality. Today we honour his memory by awarding the city of Michałowo with the Award that the Committee of the Regions created in his name. As thousands of people were pressed at the border between Poland and Belarus, fleeing oppression and dictatorship, Mayor Marek Nazarko and the people of Michałowo spared no effort to welcome them, especially women and children, providing them with shelter, help and hope. Their actions and courage embody the spirit of Pawel Adamowicz. This year, we also want to give special recognition to Oleksandr Babich, the Mayor of Hola Prystan in Ukraine, as a tribute to his courage and as a signal of hope and solidarity for all Ukrainian mayors and citizens fighting for our European values.’
Chris Gribbe, the Chair of the ICORN Board added:
‘ICORN depends on cities stepping up and taking decisive action for freedom of expression, human rights, and international solidarity. We congratulate the Municipality of Michałowo with receiving the Mayor Pawel Adamowicz Award for 2022, for their tremendous efforts to support and protect a large number of refugees, under very trying circumstances, at the Polish border with Belarus. We also stand in deep solidarity with the people of Ukraine and appreciate that the Award Jury is designating a special mention of honour to Mayor of Hola Prystan Mr. Oleksandr Babich, who have been held captive for more than six months by the Russian aggressors for simply protecting his local community.’
The Mayor Paweł Adamowicz Award was established to honour political and civil society leaders in their fight against intolerance, oppression, and radicalisation. The Award is a partnership between the European Committee of the Regions, the City of Gdańsk, and ICORN, and was founded in memory of Mayor Paweł Adamowicz of Gdańsk who was assassinated in 2019.
The other shortlisted nominees for the 2022 edition of the Mayor Paweł Adamowicz Award were Vadym Boichenko, the Mayor of Mariupol, the Association of Ukrainian Cities representing the Mayors of Ukraine, and the humanitarian organisation SOS Méditerranée.
The winner of the Award’s first edition was Cologne’s Mayor Henriette Reker for her work in promoting diversity and solidary as integral to her city’s identity.
You can find out more about the Award, and its eligibility and selection criteria here.