The rumors have been confirmed. Klaus Iohannis would have made “an extraordinary president” of the European Council but he didn’t want the job, according to former chief Donald Tusk.
Tusk spoke Wednesday at a ceremony where Prince Nikolaus von Liechtenstein, the chairman of the Coudenhove-Kalergi European Society handed the Romanian president the European prize for “his outstanding merits as a politician, who, through his dedication to European values, contributes decisively to the deeper integration of Romania into the community of European states.”
Tusk, now the chairman of the European People’s Party, attended the event and spoke of an encounter with Iohannis in May 2019 where he broached the subject of him succeeding him as the head of the European Council. “I told him he would make an extraordinary president of the European Council.”
Tusk said that Iohannis, who was re-elected in November, however, chose to stay in Romania and fight for European values rather than pursue a top job in Brussels.
“Klaus smiled cordially and thanked me and a while later he said, ‘Donald, I have work to do in Romania, so please don’t consider me for the job.”
“Do you remember those pictures I showed you of protests in Bucharest and other cities? Iohannis reportedly said. “Thousands of young Romanians who think like I do “politics shouldn’t be dirty and…. The law should mean the law and Europe isn’t just a geographic concept, and above everything, its’ about values. I won’t abandon it.”
Tusk’s comments confirmed reports last year that Iohannis was on the cards for the post of European Council president, but had decided to run for re-election.
The Coudenhove-Kalergi prize is awarded every other year to personalities who have significantly contributed to the project of a united and peaceful Europe.
A statement said that Iohannis’ “political action has an exemplary function for a formerly divided Europe,” the president’s office said in a statement.
The award is conferred by the European Society Coudenhove-Kalergi which was founded in 1978 in honor of “the great European visionary” Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi. an Austrian-Japanese politician, philosopher who was a pioneer for European integration.
Iohannis is the second Romanian president to receive the award, after former President Emil Constantinescu was named in 1998.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission received the award in 2014, German chancellor won it in 2010, while the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan was the recipient in 1992.