The Charlemagne Medal pays tribute to media work that promotes European identity. This year's accolade, awarded on April 28, went to the popular Eurovision Song Contest, the world's largest non-sporting live TV event.
The goal of the song contest created in 1956 by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the world's leading affiliation of public service broadcasters, was to foster closer ties between nations and to advance television technology.
Now, 60 years later, the organization "Médaille Charlemagne pour les Médias Européens" has rewarded the Europe-wide music show for its contribution to "European togetherness."
During a ceremony held on Thursday (28.04.2016) in Aachen, Germany, one of the most successful winners of the event presented the medal: ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus, who won the song contest with his band in 1974.
Weapon against dark forces
"For me the Eurovision Song Contest is a powerful symbol and I would say, even a weapon in the fight against the dark forces that want to drag us back to the Middle Ages again," Ulvaeus declared in his laudatory speech. "I feel that during those hours, those bright, uplifting hours when the Eurovision final is on the air, that's one of the few times nowadays when Europe gets a sense of what it's like to be unified, to live in harmony."
Accepting the award, EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre said, "The fact that the Eurovision Song Contest is so popular in an increasingly polarized world illustrates that the differences are smaller than we think."
With 42 countries participating, this year's Eurovision Song Contest is held in Stockholm, Sweden from May 10-14 under the motto "Come Together." Last year, 199 million TV viewers watched the 60th edition of the contest.
The Charlemagne Medal has been awarded annually since 2000. Previous winners include the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra Foundation directed by Sir Simon Rattle, the organisation "Reporters Without Borders" and the editors of the Russian newspaper "Novaya Gazeta."
eg/rf (epd, KNA)