The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Political Science by İstanbul Bilgi University, for his contributions to the European political integration on the basis of universal values of democracy and civil liberties, his distinguished political career and his principled and consistent attitude towards Turkey’s place in the European Union. President Martin Schulz is the third political leader to receive the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from İstanbul Bilgi University, following Jack Lang and Nelson Mandela.
Before the ceremony, the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz participated in a long and spirited panel session with İstanbul Bilgi University students and answered numerous questions.
At the ceremony, Turkey’s Minister for European Affairs and Chief Negotiator, Egemen Bağış, the Rector of İstanbul Bilgi University, Prof. Dr. Remzi Sanver, the Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Prof. Dr. Ege Yazgan; and President Schulz delivered prepared remarks.
In his opening speech Prof. Dr. Remzi Sanver, thanked President Martin Schulz for his “sensitivity to democracy, human rights, active citizenship, civil society, and the environment”. Egemen Bağış stressed his “long standing friendship with President Martin Schulz who has always given support to Turkey’s democratization process.” Minister Bağış said “We are striving to conquer hearts and minds in order to achieve, sooner or later, Turkey’s EU membership to which we are committed”.
After the speeches, President Martin Schulz received the Doctor Honoris Causa diploma and the honorary doctorate gown from Prof. Dr. Remzi Sanver and Egemen Bağış.
President Martin Schulz then delivered a speech expressing his appreciation of İstanbul Bilgi University’s decision, and stated that, “Bilgi’s liberal stance which promotes tolerance and respect for a diversity of individuals with different lifestyles, beliefs and ways of thinking within the framework of contemporary universal values is an inspiration“. President Schulz reminded the participants that the first political action in which he participated as a young political activist was in support of the children of Turkish mine workers in the town where he later became Mayor. Martin Schulz concluded by commenting that Turkey and the EU share common universal values based on democracy and civil liberties, and that he supported Turkey’s EU Accession process.
Martin Schulz was born in 1955 and grew up in Hehlrath (Germany), close to the German-Dutch-Belgian borders. After high school he decided to try to make a living out of his passion for books and he did an apprenticeship as a bookseller. In 1982 he opened his own bookstore in Würselen, which he successfully ran for 12 years.
Joining the Social Democratic Party of Germany at the age of 19, he started out his political career. Aged 31, he was elected as the youngest mayor of North Rhine-Westphalia, a post he held for 11 years.
Since 1994, Martin Schulz is a Member of the European Parliament and has served in a number of committees, first serving on the sub-committee on Human Rights and then on the Committee on Civil Liberties and Home Affairs. He led the SPD MEPs from 2000 and was subsequently elected Vice-Chair of the Socialist Group.
In 2004 he was elected Group Leader of the second largest group in the European Parliament. As leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Martin Schulz campaigned for social justice, promoting jobs and growth, reforming financial markets, fighting climate change, championing equality and creating a stronger and more democratic Europe.
Martin Schulz was elected President of the European Parliament on 17 January 2012 for a mandate of two and half years with 387 votes.