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Charlemagne Prize 2023 goes to Ukraine’s President and Ukrainian people

Zelenskyy in Aachen
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen 2023 on behalf of the Ukrainian people. Credit: karlspreis.de

The prestigious International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen 2023 has been awarded to the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the People of Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelenskyy received the award in person on behalf of the Ukrainian people.

The Charlemagne Prize is awarded for work done in the service of European unification. It has been awarded since 1950 by the German city of Aachen. It commemorates Charlemagne, ruler of the Frankish Empire, revered by his contemporaries as the “Father of Europe.”  Charlemagne resided and was buried in Aachen.

Recent winners of the Charlemagne Prize include the Belarusian opposition leaders (2022), Klaus Iohannis (2020/21), António Guterres (2019), Emmanuel Macron (2018), Timothy Garton Ash (2017), and Pope Francis (2016).

“By awarding the Charlemagne Prize 2023 to both the president and the people, the Board of Directors of the Society for the Conferring of the International Charlemagne Prize of Aachen underscores the fact that Ukraine is part of Europe and that its population and its government representatives – headed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – support and defend European values, and therefore deserve this encouragement to enter swiftly into accession negotiations with the European Union,” the statement by the board of directors of the prize said on Friday, 14 May 2023.

The classical music of Ukrainian composers, such as Myroslav Skoryk and Valentyn Sylvestrov, accompanied the award ceremony.

In his speech, Volodymyr Zelenskyy mentioned Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, saying that Putin is a synonym for aggression.

“World leaders spent hours talking to Putin to avert this catastrophe. But Putin chose a disaster. Putin is the disaster. Putin is the aggression. His formula has become death. How do you talk to him?” Zelenskyy said after he received the Charlemagne Prize.

In her speech on the occasion of the Charlemagne Prize of Aachen 2023, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that Ukrainians are laying down their lives to safeguard the future of their children and children of entire Europe.

“This prize embodies an obligation of the highest ethical value to make the next chapter of our common history better than the last. The person and the people that we are recognizing today have lived up to that obligation better than any of us ever could. They are literally fighting for freedom, humanity, and peace,” von der Leyen said.

In his speech, German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said that Ukraine paid a massive price for choosing a democratic development path and praised the Ukrainian people’s courage.

“The Charlemagne Prize expresses our European respect for the courage and determination of the Ukrainian people and Ukraine’s President. Russia’s war of aggression has brought the EU and Ukraine closer than ever before. Our history will be shared. Ukraine is Europe. Glory to Ukraine,” Olaf Scholz said.

The board of directors of the Charlemagne Prize of Aachen praised Zelenskyy as “a support and also a role model for his people” in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

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