Stefan Duerr: ‘Everyone should have the chance to start a new life.’

Press-centre / News,

The President of EkoNiva Group Stefan Duerr has become a winner of the award named for Dr. Friedrich Joseph Haass for the contribution to the Russian-German relations development. The valuable prize was presented at the German-Russian Forum.

The awards ceremony taken place in Berlin welcomed politicians, diplomats, representatives of business communities, and non-governmental organizations as well as rank-and-file citizens of Russia and Germany, who were genuinely concerned about the cooperation between the two countries.

The award named for the man of honour Friedrich Joseph Haass has been handed out since 1994. Born in Germany, Dr. Haas spent most of his life in Russia, where he was called a ‘holy doctor’. He devoted his private and professional life to alleviating the guilt of prisoners, exiles and those who were in need for help. The appeal ‘Hurry up to do good deeds!’ made by Paul the Apostle became a motto of Dr. Haas.

The winner’s title requires from a candidate to contribute significantly to the growing interaction between the Russian and German folks. By launching joint projects aimed at culture, sport, youth and partnership between cities, the forum fosters the relations between the civil societies of the two states.

Gabriella Bruch, Chairman of the Management Board of the Charitable Foundation Globus Sriftung, earned the award for strengthening the Russian-German friendship.

‘This award does us honour and binds our foundation and especially me to persist with our activities and make great strides in living out our intentions in Russia’, comments Gabriella Bruch.

Handing out the award, the Chairman of the Management Board of the Russian-German Forum Matthias Platzeck highlighted that Stephan Duerr embodies the best of the two worlds. His success as an entrepreneur is closely related to sustained effort to find common ground in the political and social life of Russia and Germany.

‘Stefan Duerr is Russian in Germany and German in Russia. Buzzing with business and social activities, he does good and blazes a trial to the future’, says Matthias Platzeck.

In the answering speech Stefan Duerr emphasized that he feels deeply honoured to carry off this award and even more motivated to cultivate the Russian-German relations further.

‘The Russian-German economic affairs and joint projects in various spheres create a sturdy bridge to cordial relations and highbrow meetings’, adds Stefan Duerr. ‘Our company represents not only an example of the Russian modern agricultural business, it a great platform for communication at the professional, cultural and political levels. More than 100 Germans have visited our farms and managed to broaden their understanding of Russia and its people.’

Stephan Duerr mentioned that he highly praises that the company of German origin is given the chance to work without hindrance on the territory where those who recollect the pain and anguish experienced on the Eastern Front of World War II are still alive. To suffer the tragedy and then live in peace and strive for peace together is a great achievement, where the endeavours of political leaders as well as interpersonal relationships played an important role.

Following the lead of Dr. Haas, Stafan Duerr has donated his prize to support those who are currently sentenced in prison.

‘We do a lot in the social sphere - we annually endow churches, cultural and sport centres with approximately 600,000 euros. No doubts, I could use this prize to this end. But I asked myself what Dr. Haas would have done. He was a person of faith, so am I. That’s why I prefer to donate this money to the orthodox prison church in Voronezh.’

The money will be given to the department of the prison services of the Voronezh archdiocese, which shoulder responsibility for the interaction with сorrective labour colonies, detention centres and prison hospitals.

‘I would like to change the attitude to former ex-offenders’, explains Stefan Duerr. ‘Everyone can make a false step, but if they have undergone punishment and repented, they deserve the chance to start a new life. Former prisoners should not be stigmatized to their dying day.’

EkoNiva company is eager to participate in the lives of the people released from imprisonment and give the chance to those who are ready to work honestly without looking over their shoulders.

Since the establishment of Dr. Haas award, it has been earned by Mikhail Gorbachev, Daniil Granin, Vladimir Voinovich, Elena Nimirivskaya, Manfred Stolpe, and other famous public figures of Russia and Germany.

By Svetlana WEBER