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Michael Dukakis remarks – World Leader for Peace and Security Award 2020

Boston Global Forum, 12/12/2020

I am pleased to announce that this year’s recipient of the Boston Global Forum’s World Leader for Peace and Security Award is Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. President von der Leyen is the first woman to serve in that position.

Trained as a physician, she entered politics as a cabinet minister in the German state of Lower Saxony. When Angela Merkel became German chancellor in 2005, she appointed Dr. von der Leyen as Minister of Family Affairs and Youth, a portfolio that aligned with her work on women’s health.

After four years in that position, she was appointed by Chancellor Merkel to be Minister of Labor and Social Affairs. Then, in 2013, she was appointed Germany’s Minister of Defense, the first woman to hold that top ministerial post.

When she left her post in 2019 to become President of the European Commission, President von der Leyen had the distinction of being the longest serving minister of the Merkel government. During much of this period, she also served as a deputy leader of Germany’s governing party, the Christian Democrats.

President von der Leyen has been a tireless advocate for a more united Europe and a Europe that would assume a larger role in international diplomacy and security. A champion of democratic rights and institutions, she has contested the emergence in Europe of right-wing nationalism and state authoritarianism. She has pressed European countries to act collectively, rather than individually, to contain the COVID-19 threat.

She is committed to the Transatlantic Alliance, recognizing the collective responsibility of the EU and the United States to advance global peace, security, and development.

These goals match those of the Boston Global Forum. We are also at one with President von der Leyen on the need for an international accord on the use of Artificial Intelligence, based on shared values and democratic traditions, an accord that will require sustained Transatlantic leadership if it is to be realized.

For these and other reasons, the Boston Global Forum is pleased today to present our World Leader for Peace and Security Award to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.