Antonina Dolomanzhi19:01, 05/14/23
Zelensky received the Charlemagne International Prize in Aachen, Germany.
In Aachen, Germany, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky was awarded the Charlemagne International Prize for European Merit, the winners of which this year were Zelensky and the Ukrainian people.
As an UNIAN correspondent reports, those present in the coronation hall of the Aachen town hall before the award ceremony greeted Zelensky with a standing ovation and long-term applause.
The ceremony was also attended by the laureates of previous years, in particular, members of the Belarusian opposition and relatives of Belarusian political prisoners – Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, sister of Maria Kolesnikova Tatyana Khomich, Valery Tsepkalo’s wife Veronika, as well as ex-President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite and others.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki delivered speeches before the award ceremony. In particular, Scholz recalled a phrase from Zelensky’s first address to the Ukrainian people after the start of a full-scale invasion: “The president is here.”
“Rarely in history, such a few words had such a big effect. It was clear that the Ukrainian people would not bow to Russian aggression and stand … And only because of this we can be here now,” the chancellor said.
He noted that for the first time in the history of the award, it is awarded to the president and the whole nation. In addition, Scholz recalled that Zelensky became president under the slogan “servant of the people”, and therefore, according to the chancellor, he became just such a president – a servant of the people. He also stressed that this award defines Europe’s admiration for the courage of the Ukrainian people and its president.
“Ukraine is Europe,” summed up the chancellor.
At the same time, von der Leyen emphasized that Ukrainians defend not only Ukraine, but also Europe and its values - democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and the freedom to determine one’s own destiny. She noted that Ukraine inspires the whole of Europe and for almost 10 years has repeatedly demonstrated its determination and desire for the European Union.
“Ukraine embodies everything that the European idea means. This is courage, upholding one’s convictions, fighting for values and freedom, fighting for peace and unity. Therefore, I am convinced that Ukraine will win, find peace, and its dream of a place in our European family will come true,” the EC President added.
In turn, Morawiecki said that it is Ukraine that protects European borders from Russian aggression. In his opinion, Zelensky is one of the most prominent international leaders of this century.
After the speeches were delivered, the President of Ukraine was presented with the award itself. As you know, since 1950 this award has been awarded annually to those who have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of European unity. The Charlemagne Prize is named after the king of the Franks, the founder of the Holy Roman Empire, and is awarded in Aachen, from where he ruled, uniting Europe.
The awarding of Ukrainians and the President with this award became known in December 2022.
Then, on the website of the award, it was noted that the Ukrainian people became a victim of “an unspeakably cruel Russian war of aggression, which is contrary to international law,” and, led by President Zelensky, protects “not only the sovereignty of their country and the lives of their citizens, but also Europe and European values.”
Zelensky’s visit to Germany
As UNIAN reported earlier, Zelensky’s visit to Germany today was the first time since the start of a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In particular, in Berlin, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky met with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier and left thanks to Germany and its people in the guest book of the German president .
“At the most difficult time in the recent history of Ukraine, Germany turned out to be our true friend and reliable ally, resolutely standing next to the Ukrainian people in the struggle for freedom and democratic values,” Zelensky wrote.
The President also stressed that together “we will win and bring peace back to Europe.”
According to media reports, Zelensky, who is on an official visit to Germany, may also visit France.