Conferral of the Sakharov Prize on Mr Kofi Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations. Hans-Gert Poettering, Chairman of the EPP-ED Group

„This is a very significant day in the history of the European Parliament. The Group of the European People’s Party and European Democrats is happy to welcome you here, Mr Kofi Annan, as UN Secretary-General. It is not just to political understanding but from our heart that we voted to invite you to receive the Sakharov Prize from the European Parliament. We heartily congratulate you. We also remember Sergio Vieira de Mello on this occasion and the many who died in the Baghdad terrorist attack and many others who had to sacrifice their lives in the service of the United Nations. We express our sympathy and our solidarity with family members who are represented today here in the Hemicycle. The staff of the United Nations organisation commits themselves to human rights and democracy. This is why the Sakharov Prize was rightly accorded to the United Nations.

„We commemorate Andrei Sakharov as well with this prize. If you have ever visited his simple grave at the cemetery in the suburbs of Moscow, you will have experienced the radiation of his spiritual strength. We wish to the Russian people that they follow his example and that Russians as other people around the world incorporate the ideals of Andrei Sakharov who was a great scientist and great supporter of human rights. Our thoughts go out to his widow who over many decades fought also for human rights. She received the Schuman Medal from our Group. We pass on our greetings to her in her modest home in Moscow today.

„Others who received this Prize could not attend this special session today. Andrei Sakharov once said that the most important voice is the one that you don’t hear. I certainly hope that the Cuban people will be able to make their voice heard. Mr Secretary-General, we share the same values that you have expressed, your believe in human rights and the rule of law. One could say a great deal about immigration, integration is part of it, but we pursue the same path. I hope that you will experience the day when the European Union will be able to stand up and defend human rights as a whole within the United Nations organisation.“

(Translation from the original German)

Further information from Katrin Ruhrmann, Tel. +32 475 493357

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