Local man to give prize

Local man to give prize

4/30/13, 8:20 PM CET

Updated 4/23/14, 9:27 PM CET

Martin Schulz is to present this year’s Charlemagne Prize.

Every year since 1950, the German city of Aachen, whose cathedral contains the tomb of the Emperor Charlemagne, has conferred the Charlemagne Prize on someone deemed to have done great things for European unification.

This year, on the tenth anniversary of the signing of the EU’s membership agreements with the Baltic states, the prize is to be awarded to Dalia Grybauskaite, the president of Lithuania and a former European commissioner. By tradition, the prize is awarded on 9 May.

An interesting twist this year is the choice of orator: Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament. The organising committee has effectively turned to a local boy made good, since Schulz is a former mayor of Würselen, which is a town in the district of Aachen. Moreover, the local boy wants all the publicity he can get, as he is engaged in a semi-official campaign for the socialist nomination to be the next president of the European Commission.

Quite how the plain-speaking Grybauskaite will cope with being praised by Schulz is an intriguing question.