Italian President Ciampi wins Charlemagne Prize

6th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

6 May 2005, AACHEN - Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi received the Charlemagne Prize on Thursday for his efforts on behalf of European unity.

6 May 2005

AACHEN - Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi received the Charlemagne Prize on Thursday for his efforts on behalf of European unity.

German President Horst Koehler praised the Italian politician as a model of a "convinced, and convincing, European", and for his decades of efforts on behalf of the integration of Europe.

Ciampi, 84, became the fourth Italian to receive the Charlemagne Prize, which was established in 1950 to honour those serving the cause of European unity and integration.

Other Italian recipients were premier Alcide de Gaspari (1952), president Antonio Segni (1964) and a president of the European Parliament, Emilio Colombo (1979).

In his speech, Koehler called for a strong role to be played by Europe in view of the start of a development of a new world order.

It will take a major effort to keep Europe's economic and social model, including a "culture of social balance", viable for the future, the German president said.

He said that a strong role played by Europe did not mean being directed against anyone else.

"And by no means against the United States, which has given Europe so much," Koehler added. The United States and Europe complemented each other and could only jointly master the challenges of the new era, he said.

Ciampi, in his acceptance speech, stressed the importance of the European nations for Europe's future path.

He said that without "genuine political will" and with commonly- held ideas and trust then even a European Union constitution would not be a guarantee for governability.

"We must ask ourselves the question how we can revitalise the belief in the European idea so that it will remain our guiding star," Ciampi said.

The remarks come amid public opinion surveys showing scepticism towards the EU constitution. France goes to the polls on 29 May in a referendum on the constitution.

The ceremonies at the Aachen Town Hall were attended by such dignitaries as Spanish King Juan Carlos, Grand Duke Henri von Luxembourg and European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet. Representing Germany for the occasion were Interior Minister Otto Schily and Health Minister Ulla Schmidt.

Aachen was the residence of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne - "Charles the Great" (742-814) - who united what today comprises much of Western Europe.

The city also served as the principal coronation site of the Holy Roman Emperor and German kings from the Middle Ages until the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Charlemagne is buried beneath Aachen Cathedral.

DPA

Subject: German news

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