President of the European Committee of the Regions, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, spoke at the Berlin Conference 2021 organised to mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a day when the values of democracy won, as strong foundations of our unity and cohesion.
Apostolos Tzitzikostas, President of the European Committee of the Regions and Governor of the region of Central Macedonia, spoke on 9 November at the Berlin Conference organised every year by the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin to mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The theme of this year's conference is "Europe Bottom Up!".
''I am happy to pass today a message against any form of fascism and anti-Semitism from Berlin, together with regional leaders, mayors and with the presence of the European Council, in this historic day that the Berlin Wall came down, and the values of democracy, freedom, unity and peace won.
It is the fate of this city, which shielded the fate of our Union. Because, without the unification of Germany, the European Union, as we know it today, would not exist. And this is the biggest proof that territories matter. That cities, regions, villages both throughout the course of our history, but also through our common course towards the future, have an indispensable role to play for the European Project. Cities are the keystones for defending our values against extremists and populists. They are the enduring examples of what our Union can achieve through bringing down walls and building bridges. They are true laboratories for enriching representative democracy and discovering new participatory practices. Cities are the engines for our evolving European democracy.
However, our recently published Annual Regional and Local Barometer shows that 65% of leaders from regions, cities and villages feel they do not have enough influence in the EU. And 86% think that strengthening sub-national government in EU decision-making would improve EU democracy.
These figures tell the true story of a democracy that works in partnership, unity and cohesion. The story of our people, who want a European Union that delivers results at the level closest to its citizens. Otherwise, more and more people will start questioning our Union's very existence. And this is why the EU can no longer remain a top-down territorially blind project. Only through a bottom-up and a values-based approach can Europe re-build citizens' trust."
A video of the full speech is available on the video channel of the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin foundation.
The full speech is available here.