The 2015 Henry A. Kissinger Prize was awarded to former Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher.
Giorgio Napolitano is one of Italy’s most widely respected and influential politicians and statesmen. He was first elected to the Italian parliament in 1953 at the age of 28, and remained for ten consecutive legislatures. Napolitano was an early supporter of European integration and focused heavily on European policy issues. He also served in the European Parliament for five years, until 2004. Napolitano is credited with ending the isolation of the Italian Communist Party, whose leader he ultimately became after having fought against the Nazis and the Italian fascists during World War II. Under his guidance, the party sought dialogue with center-left parties in Italy and Europe and became the Democratic Party of the Left in 1991.
Hans-Dietrich Genscher (1927-2016) was a German statesman, diplomat, and a member of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP). He served as minister of the interior of West Germany from 1969 to 1974, and as foreign minister and vice chancellor of West Germany (and, as of 1990, reunified Germany), from 1974 to 1992, making him the longest-serving occupant of either post. In 1991, Genscher was chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and was widely respected in Paris, London, Washington, and Moscow for his quiet but determined diplomacy, which helped end the Cold War and led to his being widely regarded as a principal architect of German reunification. Throughout Genscher’s long political career, he played a prominent role in maintaining close and positive US-German relations, particularly with his US counterpart during German reunification, James A. Baker, III.
Laudations were delivered by Italian Constitutional Court Judge Giuliano Amato, for President Napolitano, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, for Minister Genscher.