Opening Speech Jann Jakobs

Honourable Ambassador, Lord Weidenfeld, Mr. Genscher, Mrs. Genscher, ladies and gentlemen:

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this year’s M100 Media Award ceremony. I am delighted that the M100 Colloquium has become such a prominent setting for the exchange of opinions and ideas not only among key decision makers in the media world, but also among political figures as well. Over the past four years, we have been honoured with the presence of four extraordinary individuals and award recipients – people who have left famous footprints in our history. Tonight, as well, we will be honouring a person who helped shape the course of history – and, of course, of German reunification – 20 years ago with his unrelenting efforts and diplomatic skills. Mr. Genscher, welcome to Potsdam.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have always discussed very current topics with one another. Last year, we explored Russia and the Caucasus region in light of the war between Russia and Georgia. Today, we enjoyed yet another very exciting discussion. The topic of spirited and, of course, controversial debate was the Muslim media and the depiction of Muslims in the Western media. Indeed, the recent, unbelievably tragic incident in Dresden has allowed us to reflect on just how difficult and complex situations can be, especially those beyond so-called “major” political themes. It was a cruel and unexplainable act, and the subsequent hesitant actions and faulty reading of the situation led it to assume a momentum of its own in which the two cultures clashed.

This shows us that direct dialogue – especially among those who shape opinions and make decisions – is, indeed, a necessary process and one that must be ongoing. I am very thankful that we have succeeded in establishing such an important political and social process here in Potsdam. Our city not only has a long tradition of social and intellectual discourse. More recently, our goal has also been to become a leading location for the film, television and print industries.

Ladies and gentlemen, an event such as this is always a collaboration – one that is made possible by the generous support of sponsors. I would especially like to thank the Robert Bosch Foundation, which provided a significant degree of the funding for this year’s colloquium, as well as the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, which has supported the M100 from the very beginning. I would also like to thank the Vodafone Foundation Germany, which was the sole source of funding for a study exploring how Muslims in Germany, France and Great Britain use the media and which it presented at the M100 for the first time. And, of course, I would like to thank Lord Weidefeld and his Institute for Strategic Dialogue. Thank you all very much.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a particular joy and honour to be able to introduce the keynote speaker for this year’s conference. For over 30 years, he has been working in the service of peace and dialogue between the Arab-Muslim world and the Jewish communities in Europe, North America and Morocco as well as in the Arab and Jewish diaspora communities throughout the world. He has been honoured many times for his service, including with France’s highly respected Legion of Honour distinction. He was one of the initiators of the Casablanca Conference and also founded the “Identity and Dialogue” foundation, whose goal is to foster dialogue between Jews and Arabs and, in particular, to support and maintain the cultural identity of Jewish communities in North America. He is a member of the executive committee of the Shimon Peres Center for Peace, the committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Forum and the Foundation for the Protection of Jewish-Moroccan Cultural Heritage. Beginning in 1991, he served as an advisor to King Hassan II of Morocco, and now he advises and inspires his son and successor, His Majesty Mohammed VI. It is a tremendous honour to welcome him here tonight in the Raffaelsaal in Sanssouci Palace. Please join me in welcoming André Azoulay.