Speech by Mr Andreas Christou, Mayor of Limassol
at the inauguration of the "Limassol 2017" Bureau, on May 13th, 2011

The Municipality of Limassol is today inaugurating the “Limassol 2017” Bureau which will house the various operations for the candidacy of the City of Limassol and the surrounding area, for the title of European Capital of Culture.

The “institution” of the European Capital of Culture, which is recognized as amongst the most successful programmes of the European Union and one of the most prominent and promoted cultural events, was established by the Council of Ministers of the European Union in June 1985, at the initiative of Melina Mercouri. Since then, more than 44 European cities have hosted the events, achieving ever greater success amongst European citizens, with significant cultural and economic benefits accruing to them.

With the decision to lay claim to the title of European Capital of Culture, the Municipality of Limassol commissioned a team of experts, through a competitive bidding process, to prepare the required candidacy dossier as well as the integrated cultural strategy which shall be aligned with the strategic development of the city.

By being designated as a European Capital of Culture for 2017, the Greater Limassol area, with its municipalities and communities, but also the whole of Cyprus will be at the spotlight internationally, highlighting the city, the region and the country through an integrated communications strategy tailored to the range and scope of the “institution”, and the programme of events which was designed specifically for the year.

This unique prospect afforded to the City, constitutes the incentive for the mobilisation of the entire facility, from the City and its citizens, to the various partnerships and networks at local and European level, the various cultural institutions and organizations, donors and supporters of the program.

Our main objective is the successful implementation of a remarkable cultural program of events for the year of the award of the title, dynamically interposing the pillar of “Culture” and highlighting the need for a strategy which shall compliment the cultural development strategy of the City.

The city of Limassol is continually growing, evolving, and changing. The City is planning and building its future with its foundations in history and culture, in a region, which for millennia has been a beacon of light in the Mediterranean region and a cornerstone of the ancient continent.

The passage of the aeons has not altered the importance and significance of the City which like a small oasis at the crossroads of three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa; from the depths of antiquity to the Middle Ages and the Crusades, the silk route and the Oriental spice route, the Venetian and Genoese commercial supremacy, up until modern times, has played, and still today plays, its albeit small but important role to the amalgam of cultures of the East and West, in shaping the history of Europe.

With its vision to maximize human welfare and quality of life through a balanced economic, social and environmental development, Limassol is heading to a new era “with Culture as a compass”.

The attainment of the title of European Capital of Culture will afford the opportunity and the challenge, both to the City as well as the district, to demonstrate and highlight its long history and culture, its richness, its diversity and common European cultural characteristics, to promote cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue and to “create”; with culture as a catalyst and a key element in European and international relations.

A city is not designated as a European Capital of Culture only for what is or for what it does.

Above all a City is awarded the title for the program of specific cultural events and activities planned to be organised during the specific year of its designation as a European Capital of Culture; which should make it a very special year. Such program must be characterised by very high and demanding standards of artistic and cultural excellence, to be worthy the broad range and status of the “institution”.

The quality of an application is based above all on the greatest possible understanding of the concept of the European Capital of Culture by everyone involved. This great effort of the Municipality for the promotion of the candidacy of Limassol in its claim to the title, necessitates the engagement of all citizens and the broad support and participation of all stakeholder bodies of the city and the district.

Along with the “Limassol 2017” Bureau, we are today inaugurating and the campaign designed to inform the citizens of Limassol and the wider area regarding the subject, with the aim of raising awareness and understanding of the concept of the European Capital of Culture; an important element of success.

All united together, for our City, because it deserves it. The title of European Capital of Culture belongs to the City and its citizens. United together because you deserve it.

Andreas Christou