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Bono, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George Bush are winners of "European of the Year" awards.

And the top award, presented by European Voice magazine, went to Bono for his efforts to promote debt relief for the world's poorest countries.

A panel of journalists and opinion leaders from across the EU selected 50 nominees for the awards and European Voice readers then voted for the people they felt had most shaped the EU agenda in the past year.

Blair won in the 'leader of the year' category while Bush was voted the 'non-EU citizen of the year' who had the biggest impact on the EU in 2001.

Bono received a prize of 5,000 Euros which he announced would to the Irish charity Concern. Admitting that 2001 had been the 'best of years and the worst of years', he said Europe cannot be an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty.

'The year has been very mixed for both personal and global reasons. It was one of the best ever in that U2 is doing its best work 20 years after it was formed, and I've been blessed with another son. The worst is that I buried my father in August, and on September 11 the world grieved.

'Celebrity never looked as meaningless as when juxtaposed to the every day heroism of cops, fire-fighters and medical crews," he said in a statement to the award ceremony in Brussels read by Ireland's EU ambassador, Ann Anderson.

'The only really fitting memorial to the lives that were lost on that day would be not just a safer, less dangerous world, but a fairer, more inclusive one. A more prosperous world is a more secure world, a more educated world is a more tolerant world and a healthier world is a more stable world.'

More on Concern at www.concern.ie


More on the campaign to cancel the debts of the poorest countries at www.j2000usa.org

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