In his citation, the Foreign Minister described the prizewinner as a spiritus rector who had accompanied the journey of the Federal Republic from the beginning and who had shaped the image and role of the public intellectual like no other German. “Through your passionate commitment to Europe, you have made an unparalleled contribution to Franco-German and European understanding as philosopher and sociologist, lecturer, essayist and intellectual bridge-builder between Germany and France.”
With regard to the current debate on the future of Europe and Franco-German relations, Maas emphasised that with the decisions of the Franco-German intergovernmental meeting in Meseberg, Germany had finally begun to embrace Macron’s proposals. Germany and France are now moving forward together again “in the further development of the Eurozone, the shaping of the digital future and most especially in foreign, security and defence policy.”
“Radical alliance with France is necessary”
The Foreign Minister reinforced his intention to transform the Franco-German spirit of reconciliation of the mid-20th century into a shared desire to shape the 21st century in a new Élysée Treaty to be drawn up by the end of the year, and stressed:
In times in which Europe is under threat of imploding and being torn apart from outside, we need a radical alliance with France. Radical in this context means that we must be willing to seek compromise no longer in the form of a mere quid pro quo in specific policy fields but to aim for agreement on different policy fields on the basis of overarching strategic considerations.
He said that Germany was willing to enter into this radical alliance without reservation in its foreign and European policy.
With regard to the current debate on refugee and migration policy, Maas said: “From the outset, European integration was a project that overcame borders – not least as a response to all the wars fought on European soil over those very borders. The overcoming of these borders, the creation of a common area of freedom, justice and almost unlimited freedom of movement – these achievements must also mark out our future path.” He went on to say that European cohesion needed to be understood in the sense of true solidarity as an overarching interest. “The German interest has a name – and that is Europe!”, the Foreign Minister declared.
In his speech, Jürgen Habermas, who won the major media award of the Franco-German Prize for Journalism, focused on cohesion among the European states: “Trust that transcends national borders is a variable that is just as important as long-term national interests.” He said that solidarity described the reciprocal trust-based relations between players who voluntarily joined forces to engage in common political activity. The philosopher went on to say that solidarity did not mean loving one’s neighbour and in no way involved imposing conditions to the advantage of a particular side.
The Franco-German Prize for Journalism was awarded for the 35th time. As well as Jürgen Habermas, several other German and French journalists received awards for outstanding achievements.