Prof. Dr. Hans-Gert Poettering, MEP
Chairman of the Group of the European People’s Party
(Christian Democrats) and European Democrats
in the European Parliament
Copenhagen, 24 June 2003
Dear Prime Minister,
dear Colleagues and friends,
in order to paraphrase what was originally an unfriendly remark in Shakespeare’s Hamlet by officer Marcellus,
I should like to solemnly declare that
„there is something admirable in the State of Denmark“,
because today it is not the ghost of Hamlet’s father,
the late king of Denmark, who we see, but – all certainly alive –
four leading representatives of the State of Denmark.
And all of them have earned our unreserved approval, appreciation and profound gratitude for their work,
but especially for the way in which they conducted
the Danish presidency in 2002:
– Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen;
– Deputy Prime Minister Bendt Bendtsen;
– Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller;
– Bertel Haarder, Minister for European Affairs
– and last, but not least: Christian Rovsing,
the head of the Danish delegation in our group –
a delegation which not only consistently speaks with one voice but also takes 100 % of its decisions by unanimity !
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that the Danish people,
as represented by their government, can take pride
in what they have done for Europe
over the six months from July until December 2002.
The Danish Council presidency has demonstrated that countries which are not that large in size can do great things.
I am glad that the European Convention has also realised
this fact and taken it into account when proposing its draft
for a European constitution last week.
Prime Minister, as President of the European Council,
after the Copenhagen Summit in December 2002,
you spoke about a dream coming true,
and we cannot but agree with you entirely.
A dream has come true. Congratulations
on what you and your government have achieved
before and during the Copenhagen Summit !
After you successfully managed to close the circle
between two Danish presidencies in 1993 and 2002,
the name of your capital city will always be associated
with the enlargement of the European Union –
„from Copenhagen to Copenhagen“ !
It will stand for the reunification of Europe,
the solidarity between East and West and
the will to determine the future of our continent together.
You can be proud of what you have achieved,
and we can be happy to be your companions on the road.
To honour these invaluable achievements for European Integration, the EPP-ED Group has decided to award
the four of you with the Robert Schuman Medal.
I would like to thank all four of you individually.
Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen:
I was told that as a child you always enjoyed playing „society“ with your friends, always insisting to be the Prime Minister ! One of our Group’s esteemed colleagues (I won’t mention his name) at that time spent many family holidays on the neighbouring farm – little knowing that the young farmer’s son would one day become Prime Minister of this country –
after having served as Minister for Economic Affairs and Taxation respectively in the Poul Schlüter government
between 1987 and 1992.
Congratulations on behalf of our entire group !
Prime Minister, you are the first liberal politician
to receive the Robert Schuman Medal, which normally
is awarded only to personalities of our political family.
But we thought: a good Liberal is almost a Christian Democrat.
In addition, we hope that this medal will be yet another motivation for the Danish government and the Danish people
to demonstrate the same determination when it comes to joining the common European currency,
in respect of which I wish you much success !
Deputy Prime Minister Bendt Bendtsen would even get
the Schuman Medal with the support of the Socialist Group.
The socialist chairman of the Industry Committee
of the European Parliament recently declared
that if there were ever to be such a thing
as a Golden Medal for EU Presidencies,
Mr Bendtsen would have earned it several times over.
I think this is especially true for the results
on the energy policy sector.
Besides, he is a man whose personal integrity,
honesty and courage is unchallenged.
And, Bendt, you are the chairman of the Conservative Party
in Denmark, our sister party in the EPP.
Congratulations to you !
Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller:
You are not only a successful foreign minister,
but a great intellectual whose recognised works
on the political philosophy, which forms the moral foundations of our common political movement,
have received wide acclaim.
A great humanist – having lectured at the Sorbonne –
Per Stig Møller reminds us of the importance
of maintaining freedom, human dignity
and responsibility to society as our core beliefs.
You signed the Kyoto protocol for Denmark
as minister for Environment (1990-1993) and you led
the Conservative People’s Party from 1997 to 1998.
Due to your contribution, the enlargement process
became such a success. Congratulations to you as well !
Last, but not least, Bertel Haarder –
a former colleague from the European Parliament.
In our house, you stood for human rights
and for European enlargement.
You have published a range of debate books
which reflect your background of the People’s High School tradition of „Grundtvig“, which means:
enlightening the people through education and debating, stressing that democracy must be based
on constructive dialogue but also provocative debate.
Furthermore, you are known among friends
to be an unparalleled composer of festive songs and you were the longest ever Danish minister for Education (1982-1993).
You belonged to the negotiating team of the Liberal Group
which prepared with us the Presidency of the Parliament
after the European elections in June 1999.
After the government changed in Denmark,
you – as a member of the Council Presidency –
had the most contacts and visits to the European Parliament.
You efficiently managed the day to day work during
the Danish Presidency which was the basis
for the important results and the successful outcome
of the Copenhagen Summit. Congratulations !