Laudation: Amy Gutmann, Ambassador of the United States in Germany

Chancellor Scholz, it is a privilege to join you in honoring the Ukrainian people for their courage and their belief in a future, rooted in democracy, dignity and decency. Across Ukraine, people are courageously defending the right to a fairer, freer, more prosperous country.

September is back to school time. According to my mother, I used to sharpen my pencils for elementary school early in August. For millions of Ukrainian children, the first day of school this year was not one of excitement. It was just a continuation of the bleak season of war.

From my father Kurt Gutmann—who fled Nazi Germany—and from my experience as a teacher, scholar, and university leader, I learned that education goes far beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic. Education also enables us to most effectively stand up for our convictions. That’s why tyrants lose no time in seizing control of educational institutions.

I was always excited to go to school because I knew it was the key to opportunity not only for me and my ability to make the biggest difference I could in the world, but also for my family. Russian bombs have wantonly damaged and destroyed thousands of Ukrainian schools. Almost half of the nation’s six million children have been brutally forced from their homes. Far from their fathers whose lives are on the front lines, some two million children are estimated to be living outside Ukraine. They are either logging on to school remotely or doing their best at integrating into classes taught in foreign languages.

On behalf of my country, I thank Germany for all it is doing to support Ukrainian students, and their refugee families. This is one of the many critically important ways –humanitarian, economic, and military – that Germany is coming to the aid of Ukraine in their defense of democracy.

The Ukrainian people are in the frontlines of that battle for democracy. Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine is one of many conflicts around the globe where our basic democratic freedoms are threatened.  To defend democracy, this is the defining challenge of our time.
The courage of the Ukrainian people builds on the efforts of all those who, over the past three decades, have dedicated their lives to strengthening democracy, to fighting corruption, and to defending a sovereign and free Ukrainian state.

Every day since February 24, 2022, the Ukrainian people have demonstrated their courageous commitment to these values.  And the world has taken note. As both President Biden and Chancellor Scholz have emphasized, we will be with the Ukrainian people for as long as it takes for them to win. Just as the Ukrainian people surprised Putin, as President Biden said, they also “inspired the world with their sacrifice, grit and battlefield success.” An even stronger Ukraine will emerge from this conflict.

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.

Only a free and open world and society can succeed in developing and deploying the innovation needed to respond to our greatest challenges—among them, the need to develop reliable and sustainable energy sources, to address the impact of climate change, and to tackle the threat of global pandemics. The proof? Free societies share their discoveries. And an area where our sanctions are hurting Russia most is its lack of access to critically important technology from the U.S. and Europe.

We have responded to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with unity of purpose and action. Germany has been a leader of this renewed transatlantic solidarity.
Chancellor Scholz, we watched with the utmost admiration and respect as you announced a historic turning point for Germany – a turning point that comes with concrete actions: deciding to modernize Germany’s military; to meet the NATO commitment of 2% defense; to guarantee a secure, diverse energy supply for the German people; and to never waver in your support for the Ukrainian people as they fight for their freedom.

President Biden and the U.S. Congress have also been crystal clear about the unwavering U.S. commitment to military, economic, and humanitarian support for Ukraine – no matter how long this tragic war goes on.
The M100 Media Award is given to outstanding individuals who are committed to strengthening democracy. This year, without a doubt, no one is more deserving of this award than the Ukrainian people. They have inspired the world.

Because this is a media prize, I would also like to salute the work of the journalists who are covering this war. The Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine is one of many conflicts around the globe where journalists are risking their lives every day for the cause of freedom and democracy. The weapons with which they defend democracy differ from those of the battlefield. But make no mistake: those weapons are essential to countering Putin’s campaign of disinformation and misinformation.

Thanks to courageous journalists, we have been informed and educated by images from Ukraine and messages of the greatest immediacy. The extent of devastation and the human toll of this war is as essential to witness as it is painful. For many, it revives memories of World War II.

For all, it documents the war’s impact on the children of Ukraine, daughters and sons who have a right to grow up in a world where freedom and opportunity are the norm, not the exception, children who have a right to look forward to their first day of school – to counting their pencils, instead of the number of burned-out tanks and ravaged homes on their way to school.

Freedom and opportunity for all is what democracy is all about. This is why we are so certain that democracy is worth defending. This is what the Ukrainian people are doing every day – for us all. We honor them and we will always stand with them.