Annie Lennox honored by Berlin summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 11.11.2009
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Annie Lennox honored by Berlin summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates

Russia-EU relations and a quarrel between two prominent attendees dominated the start of a gathering of Nobel Peace laureates in Berlin.

Annie Lennox at the 10th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates

Lennox dedicated her award to all women fighting HIV and AIDS

Meeting in Berlin, a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates have awarded singer Annie Lennox their own award for her work with women and children suffering from AIDS in Africa. The World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates was meeting for the tenth time and the theme of their talks was "breaking down walls and building bridges."

Following celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the German capital, many dignitaries on hand for the event stayed to participate in the two-day summit of Peace Prize laureates. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990; former Polish president Lech Walesa, who won in 1983; and former South African president Frederik Willem De Klerk, who won in 1993, all took part in a discussion of the meaning of the fall of the Wall in today's world.

The Berlin Wall

The inner German border divided a city and a nation

Pop singer Annie Lennox was awarded the summit's 2009 Woman of Peace Award in recognition of her work to raise awareness of the impact HIV and AIDS have on women and children. Lennox's SING campaign combines the talent of 23 female vocalists in a recording of "Sing," which was written by Lennox, and has raised $2 billion (1.3 billion euros) since 2003. The money is used to fund treatment, testing and HIV education and prevention programs in South Africa.

Lennox, who is best known for her successes with the Eurythmics duo in the 1980s, dedicated her prize to all women fighting the HIV and AIDS pandemic. "This for them," she said. "They truly deserve it."

Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, opened the two-day event by citing the fall of the Wall as a symbol of the change people are capable of creating.

"The walls of the present are high and thick," Wowereit said in his opening remarks. "The walls between rich and poor, the walls that separate us from a solution to the climate problem, and the walls that separate us from a world without violence, one in which human rights are not just written down on paper but apply to everyone."

Gorbachev, Walesa trade barbs

The first day of the conference was also marked by a dispute between Gorbachev and Walesa over what roles the respective leaders played leading up to the fall of the Wall.

de Klerk, Walesa and Gorbachev at the 10th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates

Gorbachev and Walesa have been battling over their roles in ending communism in Europe

Last week, in an interview with German news magazine Spiegel, Walesa called Gorbachev a "weak politician," adding that a stronger leader might have been tempted to "block the mass escape" of former East Germans.

In the interview, Walesa also seemed to want to play down the role of East German protests in the fall of the Wall. Instead, he said that it was the Polish Solidarnosc movement confronting the Warsaw regime in the dockyards of Gdansk in the early 1980s that really marked the beginning of the end of communism.

On Tuesday, Gorbechev got to have his say and accused Walesa of trying to inflate his own role in the fall of the Iron Curtain.

"Walesa wants a bigger piece of the slice of the pie, a larger amount of credit," Gorbachev said on the sidelines of the conference.

Gorbachev added that a weak politician would not have been able to bring about the reforms that he did as Soviet leader.

Editor: Susan Houlton

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