1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Charlemagne Prize goes to Romania's president

December 14, 2019

Klaus Iohannis is being recognized as "an outstanding champion of European values." The judges described him as an important "bridge-builder" between Europe's east and west at a divisive time for the continent.

Klaus Iohannis waving
Image: Getty Images/AFP/D. Hihailescu

Romanian President Klaus Iohannis was named the recipient of the 2020 International Charlemagne Prize on Saturday.

The prize's board of directors said the 60-year-old leader had successfully steered Romania down a path of European integration, demonstrating a commitment to "freedom and democracy, the protection of minorities and cultural diversity."

The award is given out by the western German city of Aachen to honor those who defend European unity. The prize ceremony will take place in May.

In a statement, the board said Iohannis had taken steps to fight corruption while promoting the separation of powers, rule of law and the "common idea of a European future."

Read more: Why the Charlemagne Prize goes to the pope this year

Following the fall of Romania's communist dictatorship in 1989, Iohannis helped transform his country into the most European state in the region, the board of directors said.

"Romania is a country that has established itself as modern and technological," directorate spokesman Jürgen Linden said, adding that what Iohannis had achieved was "one of the greatest advances in integration since 1989."

Read more: EU's Martin Schulz receives Charlemagne Prize

The board lamented that the European Union was "divided on many key issues," but praised the Romanian president for strengthening cooperation between member states and acting as an "important mediator and bridge-builder" between eastern and western Europe.

Iohannis has been president of Romania since 2014. He was reelected with two-thirds of the vote in November on a pledge to fight corruption.

The International Charlemagne Prize was first given out in 1950. The 2019 recipient was UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while French President Emmanuel Macron won the year before. Other prominent winners include Chancellor Angela Merkel (2008), Pope John Paul II (2004) and Bill Clinton (2000).

nm/rc (AFP, dpa, kna, epd)

DW sends out a daily selection of hard news and quality feature journalism. Sign up here.