Wolfgang Tiefensee, Mayor of Leipzig and World Mayor finalist for Europe.
In November 2005, Wolfgang Tiefensee was appointed German Secretary of State for Transport

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Mayor Wolfgang Tiefensee:
The City of Leipzig

As a native Leipziger who lived through the peaceful revolution of 1989, which brought down the East German communist regime, I remember how breathtaking each of the 15 years has been since then - full of change and new beginnings. And it looks like this year will be no exception.

Leipzig has recently undergone some eventful weeks. Its narrow defeat as a potential German candidate for the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 has unquestionably left its mark on the face of our city.  On the one hand, there are regrets over the ultimately unsuccessful bid for Candidate City status, but there is the positive side. 

We still have the numerous infrastructure projects and road building programmes, which we brought forward and prioritised to provide the necessary foundation for the application process. The federal, state and city governments, within the framework of the Olympic Priority Programme, had made available a total of 308m euro. The city, already rich in tradition, with its business connections, international fair and its university, has shown impressive development since the political changes of 1989.  These investments have given it a new impetus, which will significantly enhance the quality of the city in all respects.

One of the qualities of Leipzig and its committed, proud citizens is not to grieve too long over the past, but rather to bring to fruition new and challenging projects.  We are therefore preparing ourselves intensively for the Football World Championship 2006 and we aspire to achieve national renown, with an international football tournament in our newly built stadium, in July. 

Even now in June/July 2004, Andrew Heller’s fascinating “WM-2006-Globus” heralds Leipzig as the only Word Cup venue in former East Germany. Almost immediately, enthusiastic Leipzigers welcomed this sporting and political highlight with open arms in their market square. 

The official opening of the Bildermuseum at the end of the year will be the first new museum so far in the recent federal states.  It will offer the valuable Leipzig art treasures by old and new masters a permanent home after 60 years of temporary accommodation.

Another forward-looking project will be significantly advanced this year. The University of Leipzig, the second oldest in Germany, is to have by the time of its 600th Jubilee year in 2009, a newly designed campus in the heart of the city on the Augustusplatz, legendary from the day of the regime change, built according to the designs of the renowned Dutch architect Erik van Egeraat.

Culture, art and science all have their home in this city – and music is one of its most important ambassadors.  Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and Richard Wagner lived and worked here as well as Johann Sebastian Bach. On the occasion of the 250th anniversary of his death, an annual Bach festival was inaugurated, which in May of this year again united elite musicians with numerous music aficionados from all over the world. It is already clear that once more this has become one of the most outstanding events in the life of our city, with its unusually rich cultural diversity.

Building has recently started on what is for us a project of the century. Since 1892 the vision has existed of a railway tunnel running under the city centre.  This will now be reality. It will take the pressure off transport above ground as well as providing underground stations that will allow quick and easy access to much of the city.  The realisation of our forefathers’ dream will begin this year.

In the fifteen years since the revolution, which started in Leipzig and finally led to the fall of the East German communist regime, we have achieved an enormous amount. In a comparatively short time, 25bn euro have been invested in the infrastructure of the region. All European centres of population are now accessible without difficulty, by rail, road or the 24-hour airport Leipzig/Halle. These conditions have convinced big names in the motor industry, such as BMW and Porsche, that Leipzig is a first rate relocation city for the car industry.

Naturally there is another side to all this, which we are not ignoring. We still have not acieved self-sufficient economic growth. Unemployment is one of our greatest problems. At the start of the 1990s, Leipzig had to cope with a loss of more than 90 per cent of industrial jobs.  That is especially painful since we were once one of the leading industrial centres in Germany.

A city administration can only influence developments of this kind within limits.  It can optimise the economic environment, but ultimately business must create its own success. Leipzig is no exception. Early on, we began to radically remodel our administration’s service outlook. Permission procedures for potential investors are today dealt with in record time.  BMW and Porsche are good examples, but by far not the only ones. For this and other reasons Leipzig was chosen by a major German business magazine to be “the most business friendly city in Germany”. We regard this as a great success, a new incentive.

In conclusion, Leipzig’s achievements, and its meeting of future challenges, is the sum of many factors.  Committed, flexible colleagues in its administration are just as important in this regard as the energetic, optimistic citizens of this proud and beautiful city. Above all, I am delighted on their behalf for the nomination, and it is with great pleasure that I hereby enter the online project World Mayor 2004.

Leipzig's imposing 'new' City Hall

World Mayor 2006

The World Mayor project is now in its third year. As in 2004 and 2005, this year’s World Mayor will again be seeking out mayors who have the vision, passion and skills to make their cities amazing places to live in, work in and visit. The World Mayor project aims to show what outstanding mayors can achieve and raise their profiles. It honours those who have served their communities well and who have made contributions to the well-being of cities nationally and internationally. The most outstanding mayor of 2006 will be presented with the World Mayor award.

In 2004, Edi Rama, Mayor of Tirana, won the Award. The 2005 winner was Dora Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens and now Greek Foreign Minister.

Between January and May each year, citizens from across the world are invited to nominate mayors for the World Mayor Award. They are also asked to provide reasons for their choice. After the close of the nomination stage, City Mayors, the organisers of the contest, prepare a shortlist of mayors who go forward to the second round of the World Mayor contest. In 2006, the list of finalists includes 50 mayors from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australasia as well as Africa.