ZAGREB, March 17, 2019 – Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković received in Essen on Saturday the Steiger Award in the Europe category and called for Europe’s unity.
“I see this award also as a recognition to my fellow citizens in the building of a European Croatia,” he said at the award ceremony, recalling that Croatia’s EU journey was much harder than those of other central European countries.
Europe is facing the biggest challenges since World War II, he said. “Not even the biggest EU countries can deal with all the problems alone. That’s why the key is in unity and that’s the point of the European Union.”
Plenković underlined the importance of the European perspective for Southeast European countries. “Europe should not neglect its neighbourhood. This especially refers to Southeast Europe because there the European Union membership is a motivating perspective, as shown by the European Union’s attractiveness. That’s also the European Union Croatia wants to push for while chairing the European Council in the first half of next year.”
Plenković was presented with the award by North Rhine-Westphalia PM Armin Laschet, who underlined Plenković’s commitment to the European idea.
“These days it doesn’t just go without saying that someone stands for Europe. The European Union has many external and internal enemies. Only a few stand for Europe. One of them is Croatian Prime Minister Plenković,” Laschet said, adding that former German Foreign Minister “Hans-Dietrich Genscher would have been pleased to see that a country he advocated is a recipient of this award.”
Laschet recalled that 50,000 Croats live in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s largest state, and said they had contributed to the well-being in Germany.
“Croats have played an important role in this process and that’s why the award for Europe is going into the right hands,” he said, hoping the award would help Plenković deal with the challenges when Croatia presides over the EU early next year.
According to a press release from the Steiger Initiative, Plenković was nominated for the award by Laschet and German MEP Elmar Brok. “Honoured are people who demonstrate straightforwardness, openness and tolerance in their actions and thinking. They are people who are not deterred on their way and willing to take responsibility,” the press release said.
Among the previous recipients are former Israeli President Shimon Peres, former Serbian President Boris Tadić, and Genscher.
More news about Andrej Plenković can be found in the Politics section.