“It’s a matter of life and death for us. Putin wants to wipe out our people”

Potsdam, 16 September 2022. With the presentation of the M100 Media Award at the Orangerieschloss Sanssouci, the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium came to an end last evening. The European award were presented to the people of Ukraine who have been resisting Russia’s brutal invasion for months and defending their freedom and sovereignty on European soil. The former Ukrainian professional boxer Wladimir Klitschko accepted the award on behalf of the people.

Potsdam’s Lord Mayor Mike Schubert welcomed the approximately 200 invited international guests and emphasised: “The Ukrainian people are defending their country because it was attacked by Russia – we must never forget this in all debates about the conflict in Germany. Our support goes to the defenders.”

In the keynote speech of the event, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz underlined: “The denial of the Ukrainian nation is oblivious to history and infamous.

Where would we end up if somewhere in Europe or the world statesmen wanted to look at some history books and move borders.” Putin denies Ukraine the right to exist; in his view, it is not an independent nation. But with this war, at the latest, he had constituted the Ukrainian people. “It is a good choice to award the Ukrainian people. It is the Ukrainians who can be said without a doubt to be bravely defending democracy and freedom.”

The laudations were given by US Ambassador Amy Gutmann and former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
The Ambassador: “We dare not waver in our support to the Ukrainian people as they fight for their freedom.  They are also fighting for us. A democratic, prosperous, and secure Ukraine is in all our interest. Neither the U.S. nor Germany nor any other country is truly secure unless we come together to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, and the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people. No country can alone address the enormous threats we face.”

Donald Tusk stressed: “As a Pole, as a friend and ally of Ukraine from the first days of its independence, as a committed European and man of the West, the West in the sense of political values, I have a duty and a right to speak today with force and unambiguously about the heroic fight of Ukraine, about Russia’s crimes committed every single day of this war, about the stance of Europe, and about the meaning of this war for the future of us all, from Kyiv to Lisbon. For our freedom and security. This is also our war which is about the foundations of our civilisation. Ukraine’s victory will mean not only that it maintains its independence and territorial integrity. It is becoming increasingly clear that Ukraine’s victory is a condition for the survival of European community and political civilisation of the West.”

Wladimir Klitschko, whose brother Vitali Klitschko already received the M100 Media Award in 2014 for representing all democratic movements in Ukraine, is one of Ukraine’s most prominent and influential voices. He expressed his gratitude in a moving speech in which he asked the guests at the award ceremony to commemorate the thousands of victims of the war of aggression in a minute of silence: “This is a matter of life and death for us. Putin wants to wipe out our people. Russia will go on and on if there are no consequences, severe consequences. I learned in boxing: bully the bullier.” And further: “You hear again and again, also from German politicians: This is Putin’s war. No. This is Russia’s war. 80 percent of the population supports Putin. They are victims of brainwash propaganda.”

At the preceding M100 Sanssouci Colloquium international media conference, titled: “War and Peace. A New World Order“, the focus this year was on Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, the resulting consequences for Europe and the role of the media. The opening speech was given by Olga Rudenko, editor-in-chief of The Kyiv Independent, an award-winning Ukrainian news website founded in November 2021 by the former editorial staff of the Kyiv Post. Russia’s invasion of its independent neighbouring state is the largest armed conflict on the European continent since the end of World War II, with enormous consequences for geopolitics, the economy, democracy, society and the environment. How does Europe, how does the Western world want to defend and strengthen democracy, freedom and freedom of the press and opinion?

At a SPECIAL TALK, Wolfgang Ischinger, former Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, discussed with Vjosa Osmani-Sadriu, President of the Republic of Kosovo since April 2021, the tense political situation in the Balkans, what this means for the EU and Ukraine, what contribution the Western Balkans can make to a stable European Community in the face of a new world order and how Europe should shape its relationship with Russia in the future.

The M100 Media Award, which has been presented at the international media conference since 2005, was presented this year for the 18th time. Previous winners include Lord Norman Foster, Bernard Kouchner, Bob Geldof, Ingrid Betancourt, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Kurt Westergaard, Vitali Klitschko, Charlie Hebdo, Roberto Saviano, Natalia Sindeeva, Nicola Sturgeon and Alexei Navalny.

In the week before the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium, the M100 Young European Journalists Workshop (M100YEJ) took place in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation on the topic of “Journalistic Impartiality in Times of War – Dealing with Fake News and Disinformation“. Over six days, 21 young journalists from 17 European countries discussed and worked with experts on recognising, identifying and fighting fake news, on deepfakes and disinformation as a strategic weapon of war. They presented their findings at the M100 Sanssouci Colloquium.

We will publish all speeches of the M100 Media Award as well as the summary of the Colloquium and the M100YEJ on our website in due time.

We thank our supporters and sponsors!
Supporters: City of Potsdam, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Federal Foreign Office, Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Press and Information Office of the German Government
Sponsors: European Liberal Forum, medienlabor, META, Federal Association of Liberal Professions
Cooperation partners: AFP, eupinions, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Institute for Media and Communication Policy (IfM), Young Journalists Switzerland (JJS), Media Association of the Free Press (MVFP), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation, The European Network, Treffpunkt Europa.

Photo: Ulf Büschleb for M100