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Charlemagne Prize to Macron

December 8, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron has received Europe’s Charlemagne Prize. At talks in Paris on Lebanon, he’s also called for Middle East calm after the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Emmanuel Macron
Image: picture-alliance/AP Images

Germany's award-giving city Aachen – bordering Belgium and the Netherlands – on Friday named Macron as its 2018 recipient of the Charlemagne Prize for services to Europe.

Named after Charles the Great, who is credited with first envisioning a united Europe back in the 8th century, and awarded since 1950, the prize's past recipients include British historian Timothy Garton Ash, Pope Francis and former US President Bill Clinton.

Aachen's present and former mayors Marcel Philipp and Jürgen Linden, who heads the prize committee, said Macron would collect the award on May 10, 2018, for his "vision of a new Europe."

Macron, 39, had reasserted the "European Project" in view of the EU's crises such as Brexit, eurozone bailouts and trends toward "nationalism and isolationism," they said.

Macron thanked the city of Aachen, tweeting in German that "Europe deserves to be defended and deserves a new foundation."

A host of senior German politicians also took to Twitter to congratulate the French president. In a tweet sent out by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, the chancellor said she was delighted to work with Macron "on creating an even better and even more successful Europe for our citizens."

The chairman of Germany's Social Democrats, Martin Schulz, sent his "heartfelt" congratulations to the French president, adding that his visions of Europe deserved to be heard. 

Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel described Macron as a "stroke of luck for Germany and Europe."

In last May's French presidential election run-off, Macron and his political movement "en Marche" beat Marine Le Pen of the French far-right Front National.

Talks on Lebanon in Paris

Hosting an international conference in Paris aimed at settling the Lebanese political crisis, Macron urged all parties involved in conflict-prone Lebanon to stay out of regional conflicts.

His remark was apparently aimed at the Iranian-backed Hezbollah Shiite movement, whose forces have propped up Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Macron as well as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri appealed for calm following US President Donald Trump's widely criticized recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital on Wednesday.

Macron said that decision should not "add to instability in the region."

"I'm issuing a call for calm and responsibility by everyone," he added.

Hariri, who recently rescinded his intention to resign after a stay in Saudi Arabia, said the US decision would "further complicate the peace process and poses a long-term problem for the stability of the region.”

Saad Hariri
Hariri revoked his intention to resignImage: picture-alliance/dpa/AP/H. Malla

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the US had "excluded" itself "a little" from playing a mediation role in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tillerson also present

Reporters allowed briefly into the conference venue, the French foreign ministry's Quai d'Orsay, saw Hariri shake hands with visiting US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson did not respond when a reporter asked about the message he's delivering to Lebanon.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert had said that Tillerson would affirm US support for Lebanon's military. 

Lebanon hosts 1 million refugees from Syria, according to the United Nations.

ipj, dm/ng (AFP, dpa, AP)