Laudation (extract) by Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Laudation (extract)

Speaker Frank-Walter Steinmeier on the laureate:

[…] ‘The life experience of Timothy Garton Ash and his courageous friends in Central and Eastern Europe shows us, however, that while the path of European unification, the path that leads it from an idea to a reality, is not a linear path, but it is one that stands open; it is possible! Perhaps it is in the nature of things that as we travel along this path, the more the idea becomes reality, the more this reality dominates our field of vision. Today, of course, the concrete realities of the European Union are the focus of our perception – the institutions, the processes, the onerous search for compromises. What must not happen to us, however, is for the big idea to disappear behind the crisis – for the crisis to blind us so much that the enormously long distance we have travelled since the days when Europe was nothing more than a bold idea atop the ruins of war fades into the distance. Reminding us to take heart from history and at the same time to look at the present with a mercilessly clear vision – this is the special trademark of Timothy Garton Ash. And that is not only an historical analysis, but also an appeal to the governments of Europe to look at the wonderful things Europe has achieved, not to squander them, and to overcome the crisis. It is in this spirit that Timothy Garton Ash joins the illustrious ranks of Charlemagne laureates.’ […]