Romanian city Timișoara kicked off the 2023 European Capital of Culture with ‘Shine your light! Light up your city’ as its motto. President of the Renew Europe Group in the European Committee of the Regions (Renew Europe CoR) François Decoster discussed with Timișoara Mayor Dominic Fritz about the important role culture can play in municipalities.
Timișoara will lead the way in 2023 in showing how all of us can light up the places where we live. As the European capital of culture, the city and its citizens also embody this European spirit through their Mayor, Dominic Fritz, who also belongs to Renew Europe CoR’s Liberal Mayors Network. A German national who came to the city to work with orphans, he learnt the language and stayed, and was elected Mayor three years ago.
Inaugurating this special year at the opera house, where performances in three different languages – Romanian, Hungarian and German – are regularly held, he said:
“Prosperity without innovation does not exist, innovation without diversity does not exist, diversity without respect does not exist, respect without culture does not exist. (…) Our mission is never to be cynical. Never to discourage. But always to build, to grow confidence. That is our invitation to Europe this year.”
Renew Europe CoR President François Decoster, who is also in charge of culture as Vice-President in his region of Hauts-de-France, had a fruitful discussion with Mayor Fritz on the role of culture in municipalities. As Mayor, Decoster has reinvigorated culture in his own city of Saint-Omer, and is mindful of the necessity to foster a new dialogue between Eastern and Western Europe.
Timișoara could become a symbol in this regard, as three names dominate the city centre: Union, Freedom and Victory – the names of the three main squares. And “Piața Libertății” has a plaque with the full Timișoara Proclamation of March 1990, a key milestone in the Romanian revolution against Nicolae Ceaușescu’s communist regime. Indeed, it was in Timișoara that the revolution began.