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Zelenskyy, Ukrainians awarded German European unity prize

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BERLIN — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people on Friday were awarded a prize that the German city of Aachen gives for contributions to European unity.

The prize committee said it selected Zelenskyy and his invaded country’s citizens for the 2023 International Charlemagne Prize because they were fighting Russia not only for the sovereignty of Ukraine “but also for Europe and European values,” German news agency dpa reported.

The committee said awarding the prize to Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people underscored that their nation is part of Europe.

Oleksii Makeiev, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, wrote Friday on Twitter that the decision “encourages us in our fight for democratic European values, freedom and a peaceful life in the future.”

The prize, named for the Holy Roman emperor Charlemagne, who once ruled a large swath of western Europe from Aachen, has been awarded since 1950 for service to Europe and European unity.

Past winners include former U.S. President Bill Clinton and Pope Francis. Last year’s prize went to Belarusian opposition leaders Maria Kalesnikava, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya and Veronica Tsepkalo.

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