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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Princess of Asturias Awards


Support for the Candidature of the City of Berlin for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord


Extracts from some of the letters supporting the candidature of the City of Berlin on the 20th Anniversary of the Fall of the Wall for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord:

“I would like to give my strong support to the candidature of the City of Berlin for the 2009 Concord Prize. I think that the Government and the citizens of Berlin, both from its former eastern and western parts, deserve such an internationally visible distinction.

No other German city faced in 1989/90 the challenge of unification across the trenches of the Cold War more immediately and more intensely. The courage for an open confrontation with the ambivalences of a shared historical past, the keen and quick urban redevelopment and the attraction of a vivid cultural life are among unmistakable signs for the tenacity of life to which this reborn capital and its citizens hold”.

Jürgen Habermas, 2003 Prince of Asturias Award laureate for Social Sciences.

The city of Berlin has been the symbol of the division of Europe into two ideologically opposed fields. In November 1989, it became the symbol of the reunification of Europe and, even more so, in the symbol of the demise of the totalitarian system that dominated a large part of the world during the 20th century. Although all our social and political difficulties have obviously not been solved, this bright page of history is for us a beautiful example to follow.”

Tzvetan Todorov, 2008 Prince of Asturias Award laureate for Social Sciences.

“I became a visitor to Berlin in June 1962. For many years since that time, I returned to Berlin periodically. In every visit, prior to reunification, one could sense the vitality and determination of the West Berliners to maintain a positive attitude while immersed in the sea of East Germany. After reunification, I returned to Berlin in 1992 and headed straight for the Brandenburg Gate where I walked through the gate for the first time after 30 years of having to get to the other side through checkpoints (like Charlie). In the ensuing 20 years, the vitality of the West infused the eastern half of the city. Who can forget the incredible international performance of the symphony orchestra in the east playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from the 9th symphony? That spirit continues today and marks Berlin as a city deserving of recognition by the Prince of Asturias Foundation”.

Vinton Cerf, 2002 Prince of Asturias Award laureate for Technical and Scientific Research.

Berlin is a symbol for hope and for overcoming frontiers, and what better compliment can there be. It seems that a very special energy is emerging from out of this town since the wall came down. Everybody who feels it is inspired by it”.

Michael Schumacher, 2007 Prince of Asturias Award laureate for Sports.

Besides its extraordinary cultural importance, Berlin has been the symbol of the deep suffering of Europe, which it lived through both firmly and with a great sense of openness, without allowing the ideological contrast between East and West, between communism and democracy, so brutal at that time, to shatter the significance of a shared European civilization”.

Claudio Magris, Prince of Asturias Award laureate for Literature 2004.

Berlin was in the past a symbol and a reality of the Cold War. Today it is a symbol and a reality for an open society, a cosmopolitan city with a broad scope of culture and art, the museum island with 6.000 years of human history and for the contemporary art with a lot of galleries and ateliers of young artists. It is a focal point for new ideas”.

Klaus-Dieter Lehman, president of the Goethe-Institute, 2005 Prince of Asturias Award laureate for Communications and Humanities.

20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital has become a symbol of freedom, peace and meeting of cultures that serves as an example of best practice to the rest of the world.

There are many historical, cultural, political and economic links uniting the German city and Spain. The cities of Berlin and Madrid have been twinned since 4th November 1988. The fact of being capital cities, their cosmopolitan character, their cultural life and their situation as centres of business are characteristics they share in common.

Painful events, now overcome, also unite them. Both cities had to suffer greatly the consequences of war, isolation and blockade and had to be rebuilt to a major extent after military conflicts. Their inhabitants were likewise obliged to reach reconcilement after many years of hatred and confrontation and had to struggle to achieve their freedom.

Within the framework of this twinning and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, three large fragments of the wall were brought to Madrid. These are now situated in a small artificial lake with fountains in what is known as the Berlin Park in Spain’s capital.

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