On Wednesday 29 June 2016, Luxembourg Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, become the first non-German or French recipient of the “Grand Prix des médias” of the Franco-German Journalism Prize (PFAJ) association.
The Luxembourg Minister has joined the ranks of previous winners Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, Helmut Schmidt, Simone Veil and Alfred Grosser. He was awarded the prize “for his commitment to European integration and its firmness in the face of recent infringements on freedoms of press and expression in certain countries of the European Union”.
At a ceremony in Berlin at which over 300 guests from France and Germany were present, the President of PFAJ and CEO of Radio-Télévision sarroise (SR), Thomas Kleist, praised the leadership of Jean Asselborn in changing the situation in Europe in recent months, after the minister expressed his disagreement when certain countries overstepped their boundaries, particularly towards the press. In his speech, Mr. Kleist emphasised the role of the latter in maintaining the European ideal.
Minister Asselborn stated that he was extremely honoured by the distinction, and took the opportunity to highlight the important role of the press.
“It’s the press who should control the government, and not the reverse,” he declared, adding that it was however necessary to stick to certain rules. “But these rules shall be determined by law and not by a supervisory board dominated by one political party. The European Union can establish a dialogue on fundamental rights if it violates these rights on its part.”
As part of the “Grand Prix des médias” award ceremony, Jean Asselborn joined an expert forum with the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. The two ministers engaged in a Q&A with the audience, composed of students from Sciences-Po Paris and the Freie Universität Berlin. Discussions focused on European politics, especially in dealing with Franco-German and European cooperation, as well as the referendum on the UK’s membership in the EU.