CIVIS Media Prize 2019 | Greeting HEIKO MAAS

Around the world we can observe an increasing tendency towards division in societies. In political debate, extreme polarisation is frequently not merely tolerated, but indeed deliberately provoked. This often means that social consensus and a respectful interaction with each other fall by the wayside. Let it not deceive ourselves: This phenomenon also threatens us in Europe! We must therefore arm ourselves to combat it. Democratic societies draw their strength from the ability to balance interests, and a voluntary commitment to uphold common values. We must realise that not only social cohesion in individual countries is at stake. The deeper the divisions at national level, the greater the threat to the European project. An inwardly stable European Union is a necessary prerequisite to allow it to act in all large questions of the future. Climate change, migration, digitalisation, artificial intelligence, security policy and many more issues present Europe with challenges that we can overcome only in cooperation with our European partners.

So there is every reason for us to actively support social cohesion in Germany and Europe. The democratic maturity of a society can be seen by its willingness for integration and inclusion. And by the fact that it is able to respond to differences not with exclusion, but instead to trust in diversity.

This is exactly where the CIVIS Media Prize comes in. It honours reports that are especially suitable for encouraging peaceful coexistence between people. The contributions reveal where there are deficits. They provoke necessary discussions, in which society and politics must constantly questions themselves critically. Precisely this is what makes the competition so valuable.

I am delighted that we can once again host the prize ceremony in the Foreign Office. I warmly congratulate all prize-winners and nominees on their success!

Heiko Maas
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany