written the 31/03/2020
As you know, the March Session of the Congress was canceled due to the COVID-19 epidemic that is spreading in many countries. An epidemic that, in order to be defeated, requires strict precautionary measures, including the prohibition of concentration of people.
In these hours thousands of Mayors and local and regional administrators, together with the health structures, are working to alleviate the suffering of citizens and guarantee them the necessary care to save their lives. To all of them we express our closeness and solidarity and thank them for the generosity, dedication, courage with which they fight to protect the lives of all of us.
The March Session would have been my last session as member of the Congress and President of our Group. In recent months, in fact, my mandate as local Administrator of my city, Turin, ended. In this mandate I have been City Councilor for twenty years and Mayor for five years. And in this capacity, I also led as President the National Association of Italian Municipalities.
By ending this experience, my term as member of the Congress and President of the Group of Socialists, Greens and Progressive Democrats that I have held for four years also ends.
It was an intense and extraordinary human and political experience, of which I am grateful to each of you. Our Group - the second in the Congress with about 200 members - has distinguished itself for its capacity for initiative, combativeness and constant presence. And at the end of my term I am proud of the successes that we have all achieved together.
I am also proud that our Group has brought together Mayors and local and regional socialist, social democratic, green and democratic left-wing parties from the 47 countries of the Council of Europe. A unit that is well represented by the name of "Group of Socialists, Greens and Progressive Democrats". And we all know how the unity of the forces of progress is essential today to counter the offensive of the rights and populism.
Our Statute provides that the1st Vice-President will succeed the President, who will guide the Group until the general renewal of all the tasks of the Congress which will take place by the end of 2020.
From 1 of April, Yoomi Renström, who has been sitting in the Congress for a number of years and has the experience and authority to give our Group a solid and recognized guidance, will take over the Group’s Presidency. I would like to express my most sincere thanks to Yoomi for these years of common work and to offer you the friendliest wishes for a good job.
I also thank the members of the Congress Bureau and the Group Bureau for the solidarity and friendship with which they have accompanied me over the years.
I would like to address a special greeting to the President of Congress Andreas Knape, the President of the Chamber of Regions Gunn Marit Helgesen, the President of the Chamber of Local Authorities Xavier Cadoret, Secretary General Andreas Kiefer, the former Director Jean-Philippe Bozouls and the Presidents of the other political groups for the spirit of sincere collaboration in our common commitment. At the same time, I address my gratitude to the managers and officials of the Congress whose competence and dedication I have appreciated. And I also thank the secretary of our Group, Alla Krytynskaia, who ensured the Group's organizational continuity with discretion and diligence.
Finally, I offer each of you my most sincere and warm thanks for the friendship and solidarity with which we shared four years of the common commitment.
I will miss you and you will remain in my heart. It comforts me to know that, being a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, we will still have opportunities to meet and work together.
A very strong and emotional hug to each of you from your President, Piero Fassino
P.S. If anyone of you for any reason would like to write to me, you can send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org