The first Onassis International Prize for the Protection of the Environment was awarded on Wednesday in Hamburg. The environmental organization awarded “Friends of the Earth Middle East (FoEME)” for their contribution in understanding the Middle East and their activities focusing on the protection of the environment.
The award ceremony was attended by Alternate Environment, Energy and Climate Change Minister Nikos Sifounakis. He congratulated FoEME for their distinction for their contribution towards the protection of the environment and the strengthening of peaceful coexistence in the Middle East. Sifounakis also congratulated the Alexander Onassis Foundation and the city of Hamburg for their initiative to establish the “Aristotle Onassis International Prize for the Protection of the Environment”. He also underlined the its importance amidst the financial crisis: “The financial and moral support of organizations promoting the culture of peace, employing even opposing parties to work for a higher ideal: the protection of the ecosystem”. The Ambassador of Greece in Germany Demetrios Rallis underlined the excellent performance of Hamburg regarding environmental protection. This makes the city the right place to award the Onassis Prize: “given the fact that both the Shipping Group, as well as Greece with their strong commercial fleet, feel closely connected to the hanseatic city.”
An official dinner preceded the award ceremony on Tuesday. It was attended by the Federal Environment Minister Norbert Roentgen, who thanked the Onassis Foundation for their initiative to establish the award in collaboration with the city of Hamburg. The personality of Aristotle Onassis and his contribution towards the development of Hamburg’s ship building sector was praised by the governor Mayor of Hamburg Christoph Ahlhaus. President of the Alexander Onassis Foundation Antonis Papademetriou referred to the citizens of Hamburg that have kept the memory of Onassis alive.
The Chairman of the Jury for the Onassis Prize, Environment Minister Anna Hajduk, noted that the award is one of the largest international environmental distinction. The prize is accompanied by 250,000 euros; one of the more sizable monetary awards to recognize services to the environment. Hajduk also praised the difficult work of FoEME for maintaining the Jordan river which is a vital natural resource for the Middle East region.