Office of the Press Secretary
President Clinton To Receive The Charlemagne Prize
The Charlemagne Prize is being awarded to President Clinton in Aachen, Germany, for his contributions to peace and integration in Europe and for having furthered the close partnership that has existed between the United States and Europe over the last five decades.
The Charlemagne Prize was established in 1949 to recognize "the most meritorious contribution serving European unification and the European community, serving humanity and world peace." The Prize was conferred for the first time in 1950. Recipients have included Jean Monnet, Konrad Adenauer, Winston Churchill, Francois Mitterrand, Helmut Kohl, Vaclav Havel, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Tony Blair. President Clinton will be the first American president to receive the Prize and only the third American after George Marshall and Henry Kissinger.
The Charlemagne Prize award ceremony, rooted in tradition, serves as an occasion for putting forward new ideas and perspectives on European integration. Honorees typically use the occasion to reflect on Europe - a review of achievement and an appraisal of what remains to be done. The body responsible for selecting the recipients of the Charlemagne Prize is made up of ex officio members and citizens. The Mayor of Aachen, a representative of the Catholic C hurch and the rector of the Technical University of Aachen serve as the committee's permanent members. The other eight members, elected for life, are Aachen citizens, representing the city council, the university, major businesses and foundations.
Aachen, the ancient capital of Charlemagne, has been at the heart of the European identity for over twelve centuries. It was severely damaged during World War II, though its historic cathedral remained intact, including the chapel originally built by Charlemagne. In 1944, Aachen was the first German city liberated by the U.S. Army. Its citizens issued the following proclamation in 1949: "having suffered dreadful experiences, our citizens are ready to urge European unity [and] have agreed upon establishing an International Prize of the City of Aachen."
The Prize includes a cash award of DM5000, a certificate and a medal engraved on one side with the old town seal of Aachen (dating from the 12th century and depicting an enthroned Charlemagne) and inscribed on the reverse with a dedication to the recipient. President Clinton has asked that the monetary prize be donated to the student exchange program between the sister cities of Aachen, Germany and Arlington, Virginia. Since 1993, German students from Aachen high schools go to Arlington during Easter break for three weeks, and Arlington city high school students return the visit in the summer.
The Charlemagne Prize celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2000, but was not awarded every year. In ten instances the Prize was not awarded because the committee could not find a suitable honoree. President Clinton will be the 40th recipient.
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