The Franz Josef Strauss 2018 Award was presented, on Satuday, in Munich, to President Klaus Iohannis by German foundation Hanns Seidel.
The ceremony presenting the award took place at the Munich Residenz.
During the Munich ceremony, the laudatio was delivered by Barbara Stamm, the President of the Bavarian Landstag, in the presence of the Hanns Seidel Foundation chair Ursula Mannle, as well as the Minister-President of Bavaria, Markus Soder. The event was also attended by MEPs and numerous personalities of the political and social world.
The President was joined at this event by First Lady Carmen Iohannis.
This prize is awarded since 1996 to personalities that were noticeable in politics, business, society and culture, that promote peace, liberty, the respect of the law and democracy. Among the other laureates of the award are former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, former US President George H. W. Bush, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and former US Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger.
The Hanns Seidel Foundation and the leadership of the Christian-Social Union of Bavaria (CSU) have decided, unanimously, the awarding, in 2018, of the Franz Josef Strauss award to the President of Romania for the promotion, in a constructive and visionary manner, throughout his entire political career, of democratic values, a united society and trust in the European project.
The Franz Josef Strauss distinction is also accompanied by a 10,000 euro award, which President Klaus Iohannis decided to charitably donate to the “One child, one hope” Foundation which conducts projects in realms such as healthcare, education and social assistance, among them programs to support children diagnosed with autism and Down Syndrome.
Klaus Iohannis: Romanians believe deeply in European project
“Romanians believe deeply in the European project, in its capacity to ensure democracy and the prosperity of European citizens”, said, on Saturday, in Munich, President Klaus Iohannis.
In a speech held in German, on the occasion of the presentation of the Franz Josef Strauss 2018 Award by the German foundation Hanns Seidel, the head of state evoked the personality of Strauss who was, truly, a visionary and a great political thinker ahead of his time.
“It is an honor and a privilege. This distinction honors me even more if I look towards all the personalities who, starting with 1996, received the same award – Henry Kissinger, Helmut Kohl or Jean-Claude Juncker. Franz Josef Strauss said that Bavaria is his homeland (Heimat), Germany his fatherland (Vaterland), and Europe is the future. I believe we all find ourselves in this sensible differentiation. We all have a home and a country we come from, but we also have a common Europe, which belongs to us all and binds us. Through his political and geopolitical instinct, Franz Josef Strauss became a symbol of European solicitude and competence – through the wit with which he admitted to the necessity of the transatlantic alliance, as well as the need to understand the East, be it the DDR or Romania,” Klaus Iohannis emphasized.
The President also mentioned that relations between Romania and Germany are strong, of a strategic nature and have as a basis numerous common successes, but also the desire to build together a better future for Europe. Furthermore, there is a particular dynamic of political consultations, characterized by a common vision on European, security and foreign policy topics. Bilateral economic relations have developed consistently so the level of commercial trade has gone over 30 billion euro presently.
“German investors have invested, in the past 25 years, constantly and durably in Romania, contributing to the technological transfer and the increase in Romanian economic competitiveness. Germany is the most important commercial partner of Romania and the second largest investor in our economy, with approximately 7,000 companies and over 300,000 jobs created. Romania also has with the land of Bavaria an excellent cooperation from a political, economic and cultural point of view. I would like to especially hail the Romanian community in Bavaria, who has integrated in exemplary terms and which is one of the oldest and most active communities of Romanians in the West, having a priceless role in deepening and consolidating our bilateral relations, like that of the representatives of ethnic Germans coming from Romania – the Transylvanian Saxons and the Banat Swabians. The Romanian minority in Germany and the German minority in Romania – the Transylvanian Saxons, the Banat and the Satu Mare Swabians, the Transylvanian Landlers – represent a key element in the architecture of our bilateral relations, being a true catalyst of dialogue between our countries and a catalyst of our relations, becoming a bridge in bilateral relations,” the President said.
Klaus Iohannis also emphasized that 2018 is, from a historical point of view, a crucial reference point in the modern history of Romania: On December 1, 1918, the Grand National Assembly convened in Alba Iulia. “100,000 people participated and decided on Transylvania’s Union with the Kingdom, and that same year the union with the Bucovina and Bessarabia regions also took place. In Alba Iulia there were representatives of all parties, all denominations and social strata, who supported the Union. The German minority in Transylvania was the first to support the Alba Iulia Declaration, recognizing, thus, the Union. One hundred years later, Romania became a country which, through its open society, through its economic performance, through its conduct towards the citizen and the relation with the European construction solidly contributes to maintaining the unity of the EU which is necessary now more than ever. Romania has proven in the meantime that it is a responsible and trustworthy partner,” the President added.
In this context, Klaus Iohannis also showed that Romania is preparing to take over for the first time, in the first part of 2019, the Presidency of the EU council – “a test of our European maturity, through which Romania will bring its contribution to solving current problems.”
“It is our duty, in these uncertain and hardly predictable times, to confer to the European project a new dynamic, trust and vision. On May 9, 2019, the city of Sibiu will host an important Summit, which will influence decisively the future of the European project. The solution is with all of us and consists of walking the path of solidarity and unity, in a pragmatic and believable manner. (…) Romania believes that only through the unity of member states can we defend against divisive tendency which, unfortunately, can be met inside the Union today. Romanians believe deeply in the European project, in its capacity to ensure the democracy and prosperity of European citizens. Like my compatriots, I too, am confident in the force of the European project,” Iohannis concluded.
Bavarian Minister-President Soder: In Romania, an important aspect is fight against corruption
Romania is an interesting country at an international level, but only in the context of the fight against corruption, “against old customs, political interests”, said on Saturday Bavarian Minister-President Markus Soder.
In a speech held on the occasion of the presentation of the Franz Josef Strauss 2018 Award to Romanian President Klaus Iohannis by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, the Bavarian Minister-President Markus Soder evoked the excellent relations between Bavaria and Romania, as well as the political activity of the head of state, but also as mayor of Sibiu.
Furthermore, Markus Soder emphasized the contribution to the establishment of the European Union of patriot Franz Josef Strauss, who figured out that nationalism and totalitarianism can lead only to confrontation.
“There are people who leave their mark on world politics. (…) And today we need statesmen like Franz Josef Strauss and we consider that the award that honors his personality is one of the most beautiful prizes. When you became president we thought it will be hard, it will be a hard path, we thought of the history, the evolution of Romania. But Romania has managed in the past years to make steps towards Europe. An important matter here, in this context, is the fight against corruption, against old habits, political interests – I am referring to the old connections, I’m thinking of young people putting their hopes for Romania’s evolution, in this way Romania becomes an interesting country in the international level, an interesting medium, but only in the context of the anticorruption fight – then it can become an interesting and attractive country. This fight isn’t over, from what I’ve read, and I need to express my full respect for this fight now, and the award should strengthen you in the future for the anticorruption fight,” the Bavarian Minister-President emphasized.