EU founding fathers honoured in Lausanne

Helmut Schmidt (left) and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing promoted a special relationship between their two countries Keystone

A former German chancellor and a previous French president have been honoured for their role in the founding of the European Union.

This content was published on November 9, 2001 - 19:43

Ex-chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing were awarded the gold medal of the Jean Monnet foundation in Lausanne on Friday.

During the ceremony the former president of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, praised the two men for being "manufacturers of the European Monetary System", which led to the creation of the single European currency.

On the occasion, Swiss president Moritz Leuenberger emphasized the significance of the two men being honoured in a country which is neither part of the European Union nor is it adopting the euro.

Leuenberger further said the creation of a single European currency was part of a peace policy, which was significant to achieve political and social goals.

"Helmut Schmidt and Valéry Giscard d'Estaing believed in a peaceful future of their fatherlands," he said.

Close friends

The former heads of state, who are also close friends, promoted the special French-German relationship and used it as the base for a political and economic union.

Both Schmidt and d'Estaing, who met in Paris in 1950 for the first time, described Jean Monnet as their intellectual guide.

"When the single currency is introduced on January 1, 2001, it will be more than forty years since the objectives for a common market were outlined," Schmidt said.

D'Estaing thinks the monetary union must precede a common foreign policy for the whole of Europe, which will "contribute to peace among the peoples of our planet."

However, the former president said Europe's peacemaker role must start by eliminating hatred between people.

The Jean Monnet Foundation, which was set up in 1978, honours personalities who have made a significant contribution toward the creation of the European Union and other European issues.

Last year, the former Italian prime minister, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, was awarded the "Medaille d'Or" during an official visit to Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

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