John McCain receives 2018 Kleist Award

"I can put it no more simply than this: America's leadership in the world is stronger, and Europe is better, because of John McCain," former US Vice President Biden said during his laudation in Munich on Saturday evening. At the 2018 Munich Security Conference, Senator John McCain was awarded this year's Ewald von Kleist Award for his services to transatlantic relations and the Munich Security Conference.

From left: Joseph R. Biden Jr. (Former US Vice President), Ilse Aigner (Deputy Minister President of Bavaria), Cindy McCain and MSC Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger. (Photo: MSC / Mueller)

*The video of the entire award ceremony with speeches by Ilse Aigner, Joe Biden, Benjamin Netanyahu, Wolfgang Ischinger and Cindy McCain is available here*


As McCain was unable to travel to Munich due to health reasons, his wife Cindy accepted the award on his behalf. "I can assure you there was nowhere John wanted to be more this weekend than here with you, as he has been each year for forty years, debating world events and arguing for the values he has defended all his life," she said. "In fact, it occurred to me this weekend that John has been coming to Munich for longer than we have been married."


McCain has been leading the delegation from the US Congress to the Munich Security Conference for many years in his role as senator. In this way, he played a key role in growing the conference into an important meeting place for the transatlantic community. “John has shaped the transatlantic relationship“, said MSC Chairman Wolfgang Ischinger. “He is a great symbol for the values the West stands for. There is nobody who deserves this award more!"


Cindy McCain recited from a statement by her husband (read the full statement here):


"It breaks my heart that I cannot be with you. ... "I want to thank Joe Biden, Wolfgang Ischinger, and all of my friends in Munich for honoring me with the award named for a man who was a hero, a visionary, an inspiration to us all, and the reason we are all here—Ewald von Kleist. ...


"Put simply, we come to Munich because sustaining our vision of world order, though it requires wealth and power and realism, is not merely a material struggle. It is a moral struggle. It is about the values that will govern our world. That is why we are allies. That is why we have stood by each other, and sacrificed for each other, and invested in our common defense—and why we must continue to do so. ...


"I am counting on all of you, my friends, to honor the precious, beautiful things that are still entrusted to our care. I am counting on you to be brave. I am counting on you to be useful. I am counting on you to keep the faith, and never give up—though the true radiance of our world may at times seem obscured, though we will suffer adversity and setbacks and misfortune—never, ever stop fighting for all that is good, and just, and decent about our world, and each other."


Since 2009, the Munich Security Conference has honored eminent personalities with an outstanding record in contributing to international peace and conflict resolution with the "Ewald von Kleist Award." The award pays tribute to the political life and work of Ewald von Kleist (1922-2013), who founded the Munich Security Conference in 1963, which at the time was called "Internationale Wehrkunde-Begegnung," and chaired the conference until 1998.

18 February 2018, by MSC