Nobel Peace Prize evokes the European Union’s mission of maintaining peace
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 18:10
Come December, the European Union (EU) will receive the official Nobel Peace Prize, a choice that is easily questioned in the context of the economic crisis amidst political and social unrest. The award has triggered mass protests that have been violently repressed by the police in Spain and Greece. Nevertheless, the announcement aims at pointing out the EU’s first purpose: peacekeeping.
Many protesters consider themselves as part of “the indignant movement”—a term coined by protestors in Spain—in reaction to the ongoing economic crisis in EU countries. They are crushed by austerity measures and blame the EU. In addition to these street revolts, the morose political climate between France and Germany is growing tenser. But as Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Prize committee, declares, “Today, war between Germany and France is unthinkable.”
Obviously, an armed conflict similar to the two world wars would be inconceivable today after 67 years of peace and fair cooperation. It is important to note that, at present, France and Germany are facing a completely new unbalanced economic situation, in which the Germans are leading the EU alone. Now France, as well as Italy, Greece and Spain, are striving to achieve growth.
The prize committee notes that the EU has “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” However, Hungary’s human rights and democracy have worsened since the election of Viktor Orban as president. Since taking the position in 2010, Orban has seized control of the media and has nationalized people’s savings in addition to some corrupt appointments in the judiciary branch.
Human rights and the personal liberty are also at stake in France, where thousands of Romani people are deported each year because of the new tougher policies on illegal immigration. France had previously been a land of refuge for Romani, who were able to settle freely. Towns and cities were generous in granting them pieces of land, but nowadays, mayors and administrations are more and more reluctant to express support. The undesired Romani are living in filthy areas before being thrown out of the country with no other place to go.
The EU was similarly unable to keep the peace when, in 1999, the Serbian ethnic cleansing took place in Yugoslavia. In fact, it was U.S. intervention that ultimately resolved the conflict.
Despite such recent events, the Nobel Committee is attempting to highlight the fact that the EU is still standing after two world wars, ethnic cleansing and armed conflict in the Balkans. This prize is indeed a valorizing achievement that reminds the world that the original purpose of the union of these 27 countries is peacekeeping. This Nobel Prize comes exactly at the right time to return to some of the weakened EU’s lost glorious prestige on the international stage.
More than an artificial economic construction, Europe stands as a cooperative confederacy to ensure peace and protect human rights, especially between former enemies France and Germany.
Anger, however, has grown fast and steady against European institutions as a whole since the French and Irish votes against the EU constitution have been overridden, creating a wave of euroscepticism. With all the internal protests, political upheavals, governmental oppression and economic strife, the prize turns the EU toward hope and appeasement, serving as a reminder to the world that the alliance is primarily built for peace.