In Oslo, Norway, Nobel committee Chairman Thorbjorn Jagland officially presented the Nobel Peace Prize to the 27-nation European Union. Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, and Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, accepted the award and spoke on behalf of the EU.
The award came with much controversy, particularly regarding Europe’s economy being in a state that critics say is the worst it’s been since the EU’s post-world-war-II inception. Van Rompuy, in accepting the award, mentions this. He states: “keeping peace where there is peace” is “another historic task….This couldn’t be more clear than it is today, when we are hit by the worst economic crisis in two generations…..putting the political bonds of our Union to the test.”
Barroso defended the EU’s influence for piece and it’s money system in his own remarks: “Today one of the most visible symbols of our unity is in everyone’s hands. It is the Euro, the currency of our European Union. We will stand by it.”
Barroso continues, asserting the EU, “is more than an association of states. It is a new legal order, which is not based on the balance of power between nations but on the free consent of states to share sovereignty.”
Amnesty International warns a growing number of EU political leaders are promoting a variety of anti-minority messages, and enjoying increasing popularity.
“Xenophobia and intolerance are on the rise throughout Europe,” said Nicolas Beger, director of Amnesty’s European Institutions office in Brussels, “EU leaders mustn’t bask in the glow of the Prize.”
Another opponent to the Nobel Committee’s decision is 1980 Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel. He said, “We’re surprised by the last designations by the Nobel committee, in the case of Obama, Al Gore, and now the European Union, when these are countries at war. They are part of NATO. They invade, plunder, kill. We’ve seen it in Libya, Syria, we see it all over the world. The military bases they have in the Malvinas Islands. So, we’re worried a prize like the Nobel, which has to be for contributing to peace, can be used in this way.”
This is far from the first controversial winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1973, Henry Kissinger received one for his work on the Vietnam peace accords, in spite of instituting a secret bombing campaign against the North Vietnamese army.
Former Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin was a Nobel winner in 1978, regardless of his involvement in the 1946 bomb attack on the King David hotel in Jerusalem, in which 91 people were killed.
Most recently, the 2009 prize went to Barack Obama, less than a year after becoming the US president, for his “extraordinary efforts in international diplomacy.” At that time, criticism surrounded his continuing leadership of a war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Not so noble, or peaceful: EU Nobel Peace Prize disappointment
The European Union’s three presidents are in Oslo to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, on behalf of the group. It’s being given to commend the EU for fostering peace. But not everyone agrees – hundreds marched through the Norwegian capital in protest. RT’s Peter Oliver looks at why many believe the EU doesn’t deserve the prize, and why the whole Nobel institution may need a rethink.
With the EU mired in economic strife, it’s hardly looking peaceful with anti-austerity protests and riots.
Is the Nobel Peace Prize losing its prestige?
It has been described as the most prestigious award in the world – the Nobel Peace Prize, whose past winners include Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. But this year’s award to the European Union is adding to growing criticism over the choice of winners – and the politics behind the decisions. So, is the Nobel Peace Prize losing its prestige? And is the Nobel Peace Prize still contributing to world peace in the way Alfred Nobel envisioned?