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Emmanuel Macron Receives International Award of the Peace of Westphalia in Germany

Münster, May 28, 2024, The Europe Today: French President Emmanuel Macron began the third and final day of his state visit to Germany in the western city of Münster, where he was honored with the prestigious International Award of the Peace of Westphalia. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented the award, lauding Macron as a “passionate European.”

In his commendation, President Steinmeier expressed gratitude for Macron’s dedication to Franco-German relations. “That France and Germany are so close today, is down to people like you,” Steinmeier remarked. He emphasized Macron’s proactive approach to fostering bilateral discussions and overcoming mutual reservations.

The International Award of the Peace of Westphalia, named after the 1648 treaty that ended the Thirty Years’ War, is a biennial private sector prize awarded to individuals or representatives who have significantly contributed to European solidarity. Macron’s award ceremony, originally scheduled for 2023, was delayed due to domestic unrest in France related to his pension reform efforts.

The award jury praised Macron as a “fighter for freedom, peace, and Europe,” highlighting his efforts to enhance European security, particularly in light of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Macron Advocates for Unified European Defense Strategy

In his acceptance speech, President Macron acknowledged the paradox of receiving a peace prize during wartime. He reiterated his call for a unified European defense policy, stating, “Peace also means taking risks. If we proceed nationalistically, Ukraine will lose and we will have no peace in Europe for many years.”

Macron emphasized the importance of optimism and European unity, declaring, “As a European, being optimistic means being sure that Europe is the right answer.” He called for proactive measures to address contemporary challenges such as the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis, and threats to democracy. “We have to start Europe’s next stage. We need to build up our European defense and become independent of our US partners,” Macron urged.

European Union Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who also attended the award ceremony, supported Macron’s call for stronger and more coordinated European defense efforts. “The last few years have clearly shown us that we must develop our own European strength if we want to protect peace on our continent,” she said, emphasizing the need for a common European air defense system.

Macron and Steinmeier Sign Münster’s Golden Book

Following the ceremony, Presidents Macron and Steinmeier signed the Golden Book of Münster and greeted the public from the town hall balcony. While the event received widespread applause, there were also protests from pro-Palestinian demonstrators and opponents of nuclear energy.

Macron’s three-day state visit to Germany included various symbolic and significant engagements. On the first day, he praised the Franco-German friendship and participated in a game of table football with Steinmeier in Berlin. On the second day, he visited the Holocaust Memorial in the German capital before traveling to Dresden, where he delivered a speech warning of the threat of authoritarianism and calling for European unity.

From Münster, Macron is scheduled to travel to Schloss Meseberg near Berlin, the official state guest house of the German Federal Republic, to meet Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The two leaders are expected to discuss European defense strategy and economic competitiveness, with a press conference planned for Tuesday evening.