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German Chancellor honoured by the Royal Society

01 April 2010

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor has been awarded the Royal Society’s King Charles II Medal at a ceremony in London today. She has been recognised for her extraordinary contributions to the promotion of science and science in society. Chancellor Merkel is recognised not only for her role in supporting science in Germany but also for the leadership she has provided on the European and world stages in promoting science based policy making over issues such as climate change. Upon receiving the medal, Chancellor Merkel said: "I am very pleased to be here today in the Royal Society to receive this great honour. It is a great honour not only for me personally but also for the country I represent."

Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society speaking at the award ceremony said; “As a professional scientist herself, Chancellor Merkel has an added insight into the benefits that science and science based decision making have for the economy and the lives of people.  In tough economic times she has chosen to boost funding for education and research in Germany by €12 billion by 2013.  We are delighted to be able to honour her at a time when international cooperation is becoming ever more important in science and in tackling the major scientific issues that are facing the global population.”

Chancellor Merkel studied physics at the University of Leipzig from 1973 to 1978, and went on to work and study at the Central Institute for Physical Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof, earning her doctorate for her thesis on quantum chemistry.  She was previously Minister of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, and contributed to the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) Essays on Science and Society, stating, ‘As we approach the end of the 20th century, industrial society is becoming a knowledge-based society. It is vital that we use our growing knowledge and capabilities responsibly, and that we use them in the interest of environmentally appropriate development. Science must play an important role in the pursuit of sustainable development.’  Throughout her Presidency, Chancellor Merkel has continued to support the notion of the knowledge-based society in Germany.

Chancellor Merkel is the third recipient of the King Charles II Medal following Emperor Akihito of Japan (1998) and President APJ Abdul Kalam of India (2007).  A full transcript of her acceptance speech is available here.

The Chancellor’s visit to the society coincides with the transfer of the Secretariat of the European Science Academies Advisory Council (EASAC) from the Royal Society to the Leopoldina.  EASAC was established in 2001 and consists of the science academies of the EU27 nations, along with Academia Europaea and ALLEA, the European Federation of National Academies of Science and Humanities.

Download the speech here (PDF).