Burkhalter, 54, served as Swiss president last year, as well as presiding over the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which was actively involved in brokering peace in war-torn Ukraine.
The multilingual Neuchâtel politician, a member of the Liberal party, was praised for raising Switzerland’s status on the world stage.
But he also proved to have a popular touch, evidenced by his recent improvised duo with Swiss pop singer Bastian Baker during a charity fund-raising broadcast for German-language radio station SRF3.
The pair sang a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” for the programme, broadcast a week before Christmas.
“Bastian Baker sings almost as well as me,” Burkhalter joked afterward.
Baker was also honoured at the Swiss Award gala on Saturday in the show business category.
Others awarded included filmmaker Sabine Boss (in the culture category) and health specialist Sabine Hediger, who established a field hospital in Sierra Leone for Ebola virus victims (society category).
Albert Baumann, a director of meat processing company Micarna SA, won in the business category for a program giving students practical training.
The annual award ceremony was organized by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation.
Check out Burkhalter's and Baker's take on Springsteen in the video below: