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Joschka Fischer wins Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize

Joschka Fischer (right) is pictured at the ceremony chatting to Micheline Calmy-Rey Keystone

Germany’s foreign minister and vice-chancellor, Joschka Fischer, has been honoured with Switzerland’s Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize.

The prize, which was awarded at a ceremony in Rüschlikon above Lake Zurich on Tuesday, recognises individuals “who have rendered outstanding services for the benefit of the general public”.

More than five and a half years after leading Germany’s Green Party into a coalition with Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Social Democrats, Fischer remains one of country’s most popular politicians.

According to the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute, Fischer has built a powerful reputation both within Europe and beyond, particularly for his efforts as an honest broker in the Middle East and in pursuing European integration.

Fischer also recently argued for a new relationship between Europe and the United States.

He wants the ten new EU member states to form a united front alongside existing members – a clear rebuke to Washington’s attempts to divide Europe into “old and new” states.

European enlargement was the key theme on the night, with addresses also given by Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey and the prime minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker.

Before the ceremony, Calmy-Rey took the occasion to discuss an ongoing row over border controls and other bilateral issues with her German counterpart.

Tough decisions

The SFr100,000 ($78,000) prize also recognises Fischer’s ability to take difficult but important decisions.

Despite strong opposition from within his own party, Fischer has supported German military involvement in the Balkans and Afghanistan.

The Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute is one of Switzerland’s oldest think tanks, and is named after its founder, who also created the Migros retail giant.

Previous winners of the award, which is handed out on an irregular basis, include former Czech president, Václav Havel.

“This award honours personalities… who have distinguished themselves through courage, perseverance, commitment, and successfully introducing and implementing lasting changes,” the institute said in a statement.

swissinfo, Jacob Greber in Zurich

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR