Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves was presented with the Verband Deutscher Zeitschriftenverleger's "Golden Victoria", or the "European of the Year" award, in Berlin on Thursday, on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Along with his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts, Andris Bērziņš and Dalia Grybauskaitė , the three presidents were presented the awards as an acknowledgment for the three Baltic states for restoring their independence, promoting European values, integrating with Europe and undertaking successful economic and political reforms.
“Looking at what the world is like 25 years after the Berlin Wall fell, we recognize that we chose the right path at the right time, but we have also had luck,” Ilves said at the award presentation gala.
“The fall of the Berlin Wall was a wonderful event that gave hope to all of us, who had been on the wrong side of the wall for far too long. It filled us with hope that Europe can be united and free again,” Ilves said in Berlin.
Ilves also thanked all the friends in Europe and elsewhere in the democratic world who were willing to support the Estonia and the other Baltic states with their political and economic reforms, and accepted them back into Europe.
During his official visit to Germany, Ilves also gave a presentation at the German Society for Foreign Policy, where he focused on the drastically changed international security situation in Europe, the new challenges that NATO and the European Union are facing, and Germany's leading role in standing for the values of the European Union.
In the past, Golden Victoria awards have been presented to the President of Germany Joachim Gauck, to Donald Tusk during his term as the Prime Minister of Poland, and to former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger.