Peace Prize 2024 awarded
International Peace of Westphalia Prize 2024

Macron calls for a common defense policy from Germany

Münster, May 28, 2024 – French President Emmanuel Macron was awarded the International Peace of Westphalia Prize in Münster this Tuesday. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Dr. Reinhard Zinkann, chairman of the organizing Economic Society for Westphalia and Lippe (WWL), presented the state guest with a statue and the associated prize money of 50,000 euros in the historic town hall. The German-Polish Youth Office received the youth prize, also worth 50,000 euros. Prize winner Macron donated his prize money to the Franco-German youth organization, which was once founded by Chancellor Adenauer and President de Gaulle.

In his acceptance speech, President Macron appealed to Germany and the states of Europe to be ready for a common defense policy. “If we act nationalistically now, Ukraine will lose and we will not have peace in Europe for many years. We have to do this! Who knows what more trials and tribulations lie ahead for us?” Macron recalled that Germany didn’t want to think about defense for many years. “This war has woken us up,” the president said. “We have to build a European defense.”

Federal President Steinmeier had previously emphasized that Macron and himself had personally given “everything to achieve peace and a reliable relationship with Russia.” Steinmeier admitted: “Our common efforts for peace in Europe have failed because of Moscow. Putin brutally crushed this effort.” Long before the Russian war of aggression, it was Macron who invoked European sovereignty. “If our history has taught us one thing, it is that Europe is strongest when it stands together.” And it is a wonderful European sign that the second prize winner is the German-Polish Youth Office. Steinmeier said to Macron: “I am grateful to have such a passionate European at the helm of our neighboring country. You always have the common goal in mind and fight for it: to strengthen and expand Europe’s sovereignty, but also its competitiveness.”

In her opening speech, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pointed out that the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 was a fundamental foundation of international peace. That is why the donated prize is “still so important today”. Putin brought the war back to Europe. “If his imperialist war were successful, the whole of Europe would be existentially threatened.” Von der Leyen agreed with Macron in his political approach of a strong and defensive Europe. “We have proven in recent years that – if we stick together – we can move mountains.”

North Rhine-Westphalia's Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst sees Emmanuel Macron as a leader who, like no other, is committed to ensuring that Europe thrives. “And as clearly and forcefully as no other, he identifies the challenges that Europe faces today – from within and without. Because our free and independent Europe is being challenged - by the war that Russia has brought back to Europe and by nationalists and populists who are axing Europe's unity. We can not permit that."

Wüst agreed with Macron's path, saying: "Finding new democratic partners, increasing our own defense capacity and becoming more competitive - that is the path to Europe's strategic sovereignty." Only a vibrant and strong Europe can maintain stability and peace.

“The coming years will be crucial for our continent, because Europe's enemies are a great and real danger. We must therefore rekindle enthusiasm for Europe and take responsibility for one another. Let’s ensure that our Europe flourishes and doesn’t die, the Prime Minister continued.”

The Polish Minister of Education Barbara Nowacka praised the youth exchange between young Germans and Poles that has been going on for 33 years. On the occasion of the Youth Prize being awarded, she said: “Of the more than three million people who have taken part in the exchange so far, many more million people in Poland and Germany have experienced good things. Their families, siblings, friends and neighbors were always involved.”