I don’t trust on people being on my side but not speaking my language (Leoluca Orlando)

The Mayor of Palermo Leoluca Orlando at the Opening of the Geneva Peace Week 2020

Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian

Hum, Pierre what you say I’m sure has a lot of resonance for Mayor Leoluca Orlando,  the problem of giving youth a vision, the problem of dealing with a lot of complexity at the same time,  from refugee flows, from… hem… I mean, the list is so long that I don’t even want to start enumerating it.  Leoluca, how you, as a Mayor, how do you go about with this issue of trust building,  after all this disruption, Covid is just now one, many people have lost loved ones,  … how do you… how do you see your role as a Mayor in this process of trust building?
(You need to please unmute yourself)

Hello, good afternoon, hello to all of you. I wish to say hello to the moderator Achim Wennmann. This is the opening ceremony for Peace Week 2020.  I think that I have to say thanks for invitation and annotation  I have to say just send my warm greetings to Sami Kanaan. Just saying that I feel Swiss  for my many presences in Switzerland and even being born on 1st August, Swiss know is  a very important day for you, for the country, but I come from Palermo and Palermo is a not a European city,  Palermo is a middle-East town in Europe. It means it’s Mediterranean, not only European  and my opinion about trust is that we can promote trust, we have to promote trust just sharing a language.  I think that this initiative, and I wish to say my persuasion for this initiative is to try to let us  to sign a language agreement just to use the same language because I trust on people speaking my language,  I don’t trust on people being on my side but not speaking my language.  So let’s have different opinions but let’s share language.  So I wish to remember … that means a piece  and world, as Tatiana Valovaya said  and back to me, you can see really all the books, so analogic,  and in front of me is ipad, so digital. Virus and digital both are really global.  Now I think that we need to share the language.  We need just to share the opinion that we have to change our perception of the time,  we have to change our perception of the space. I feel me just like  a start-up of mayor. It is very funny that I feel a start-up of mayor, because  the first time I was elected mayor it was in 1985 but I think that, after virus and digital,  we have the opportunity just to have a different approach in front of the dimension of the life.  Just coming back to Palermo: Palermo passed from law enforcement to promotion of human rights.  There is no city in Europe so culturally changed like Palermo in the last 40 years. 40 years ago,  the mayor had the face of the mafia boss. The Church was… had the face of the of the mafia. The ministers,  the government, the entrepreneurs they were all having the face of the mafia. After 40 years,  I can say that mafia still exists, not only… not only in Geneva even in Palermo, but mafia  does not govern the city of Palermo, you know what tremendous change, and we changed thanking,  please, “thanking”, “thanking” the mafia because the mafia killed so much that obliged, helped,  invited everybody to change our style of life and now for us is not enough to respect law,  we want to respect and to promote human rights. We defend the human rights of everybody.  We defend the human rights of homosexuals, of children, of whole people, of migrants, of everybody, because  we believe in the slogan “I am a person, we are a community”. “I am a person” is alternative to the individualism.  “We are a community” is alternative to closed groups, to closed belonging. And peace,  peace, from my opinion, is the first… the first human right, the first communitarian human right,  just like identity is the first individual human right.  Now and on this trajectory of change in Palermo, I think…  … because we discovered the importance of human rights.  Starting from the fight against the mafia, starting in the fight just to respect the law,  we finally discovered that in many cases the laws are against the rights.  And my opinion is that the Palermitans, after this fight, are much better than before.  It’s the same opinion: I think that, thanking Osama Bin Laden, the Muslims will be better  and thanking Adolf Hitler, the Germans will be better than before  because we were obliged to open the eyes, to open the mouth, to open here,  we were obliged just to see how terrible was the perversion of our identity and I speak about identity. 

So this might… this might… allow me to to just come into this here, because  it connects to the notion of how Palermo as a city builds its activities in Palermo  in a global partnership of actors and also with respect to global movement.  You have been at the forefront of a movement of… in fact, promoting a shift from law enforcement to human rights-power-based approaches in the city.  So how would you… how would you judge or what would be the sharing of…  what would be your experiences on the importance of this connectedness of the city to a global partnership  to help you deal with your issues that you have right in front of your doorstep?

I am co-president and co-founder of the Global Parliament of Mayors that is based in Den Hague, in Holland  and I just participated to a lot of activities, in Mexico, in Colombia, in Peru, United States of America,  in Georgia Caucasus, in  in France, in Germany and everywhere I think that we can send a message from the local level.  I think in this moment we need to just to change our mind about three fundamental opinions.  Identity: I am against the blood… the law of the blood.  I’m not Palermitan because my father and my mother were Palermitan,  I am Palermitan because I decided to be Palermitan  and, after this speech, I have the right, I have the freedom  to decide to become Tunisian and Jewish or German and Hindu.  Identity is the first of individual human rights.  The second: state. We refuse the idea that the state is across the space.  If you speak with the young people, 20 years old, what is a state? He doesn’t understand.  For young people, only the world does exist, only the village does exist.  What is in the middle, between the world and the village, is the enemy of the happiness.  And, finally: homeland. I refuse the idea that my identity comes from my father and from my mother,  I refuse the idea that my homeland is chosen by my father and my mother.  I have the right to decide what…. which… what is my homeland  because, believe me, only in name of freedom, only in name of love, I can have as homeland Italy.  The national… the musical national hymn of Italy cannot be heard, it’s terrible, it’s awful  but it is my choice. So I stand up, I put the hand on my heart  and I say that I love my homeland because it’s my decision, my…  My wife is not Miss World but it’s my freedom, it’s my choice, so I will defend.  Do you understand what I mean? We can just have a new idea  of freedom and, speaking about identity not based on blood,  speaking about state not closed, speaking about homeland that is a choice,  you can understand how it’s changed the idea of peace.  Thank you mayor. How… from Palermo, how do you see a value added from a place like international Geneva for your work?  I repeat the human rights and I think that… I wish to remark two issues.  The first: against any old and new colonialism we need deeply based, local culture of human rights.  It is the role of the mayors, the role of the cities.  We have just to promote in any way, even against the law of our country,  I basically even fight against the law of my country, my cultural human rights,  respecting the constitution, no worry, but not the law because sometimes the law is against the constitution,  especially when the law, the state law, is against human rights, migrants or homosexuals, women or children.  The second: the role of education. I think is really important the role of education  because as Marie-Laure Salles said, she spoke about competence and responsibility,  competence and responsibility are exactly the issues of the education. It means  the role of education is to let the vision to be transformed into domestic and daily values.  The role of education is to let the vision to be transformed into domestic life.  It is exactly the role… so the two roles of mayors and of teachers  is exactly to let the vision to be concrete and daily.  Probably you have understood that I am a former professor in the university of public law in a rather geological era because… I wish that you noticed that I have this… I have the numbers the same age of Paolo Petralia.  Paolo Petralia and I have the same numbers to indicate our age, 2 and 7. By that you know we are both 2 and 7 years old.  On that note, Paolo, please do come in for a final reflection.

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