When Pawel Adamowicz, the liberal-minded mayor of the Polish city of Gdansk, was stabbed and killed by a far-right activist in January 2019, the town was plunged into a state of shock.
This month, his successor Aleksandra Dulkiewicz accepted the Princess of Asturias prize, an award from the heir to the Spanish throne, for the town's efforts at concord in the wake of the incident.
"So many people when I am walking down the streets are still sad, because we still don’t know why it happened," she told Euronews after accepting the prize.
"He was the mayor for 20 years, and for 29 years he worked for the city before that as a member of the city council. So, for many people, they don’t know the city without Mayor Adamowicz."
But she added: "we don’t want this tragedy to be used in a political way. We don’t want this tragedy to divide the society in Gdansk and in Poland."
Dulkiewicz said she hoped the incident could be a catalyst to bring people together — "something that was tragic turned into something that is good" — but admitted Poland's political divisions meant it was not straightforward.
She said she disagreed with characterisations of Poland's governing Law & Justice party as a "conservative" party because she regarded herself as a liberal conservative and that the government was attempting to fashion unity "based on our fears."
The culture of always seeking an opponent, she said, meant that "four years ago the main enemies were the immigrants, today it is the community of LGBT+."
She said the Asturias Prize was a reflection of Gdansk's status as a symbolic, historic city and its "policy of equal treatment of people, no matter where they come from, based on values like solidarity, freedom human dignity."
"It’s important and this is something that I believe that we are on the right way," she said, adding that they keyword for Gdansk is solidarność — solidarity.