Readers of the Brussels-based weekly European Voice have awarded Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan the title "European of the Year" just two weeks ahead of an important European summit to decide on Turkey’s future relations to the EU. Ireland's Prime Minister Bertie Ahern was voted "Statesman of the Year" for completing negotiations on the EU constitution while Germany's Günter Verheugen was declared "Commissioner of the Year" for his work on enlargement. Hans-Gert Pöttering, leader of the European People's Party group in the European Parliament, was voted "MEP of the Year."
Ireland was strongly represented in terms of prize winners with former Irish health minister Michéal Martin picking up the prize as Campaigner of the Year for introducing the EU’s first national ban on smoking in bars, pubs and restaurants in Ireland. Ireland's ambassador to the EU, Anne Anderson was awarded diplomat of the year. The winners of the various awards were announced at a black-tie dinner in Brussels on Tuesday evening. In total, 50 nominees were handpicked by a selection committee and the winners were chosen by an on-line poll among readers of the weekly paper. (EUObserver.com)