European Union Wins Nobel Peace Prize
By: Nourhan Dakroury
It was officially announced Friday, Oct. 19, that the European Union (EU) is being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 2012 for its efforts to maintain peace and reconciliation in Europe in the past six decades.
Sean Forner, Assistant Professor of History at MSU, said in a phone interview that the prize serves towards “encouraging the EU to recapture peace and prosperity.”
Forner said that it has the same concept as President Obama’s Nobel Prize, which is, in the case of the EU, reminding the organization of its main goals.
“One of the most interesting things to see here is the EU reflecting on its mission,” said Forner.
He said that the EU should now start “reviving and revitalizing its mission” by becoming even more committed to democracy, justice, solidarity and human rights.
The decision led to a lot of controversy, given the fact that it came at a time where the EU is going through one of the worst economic crises in its history, according to BBC News.
Thorbjørn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Prize committee, said that Europe is currently facing the danger of disintegration, according to The New York Times.
“Therefore, we should focus again on the fundamental aims of the organization,” said Jagland, according to the New York Times.
“The EU needs to get back to its core business- trade and promoting reconciliation,” said Heather Grabbe, director of Open Society Institute in Brussels, according to BBC News.
Terri E. Givens, Associate Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin said in an e-mail interview, “(The award) makes sense in some ways, since the formation of the EU was with the goal of maintaining the peace, but it’s not clear which individuals get credit.”
Givens said, “(It) might have made more sense to give (the prize) to someone who has been particularly supportive of the European integration, like Helmut Kohl.”
On the other hand, Guillermo Rey, graduate student in mathematics at MSU and a native of Spain, views the prize as a potential threat towards peace.
“Who is going to tell Europe now that they are doing (something) wrong?” said Rey.
Rey said that the Nobel Peace Prize winner should set an example to others in working to achieve peace.
“ We are not working towards peace,” said Rey.
He said that the EU is mainly working towards their economic prosperity.
Europe intervened in Libya mainly because the unrest there was having a negative effect on the European economy, said Rey.
According to BBC News, the Nobel Prize committee justified their decision by pointing out that the EU helped transition the continent “from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”
Nafi Sene, International Relations junior at MSU, said in an e-mail interview, “At this time I think this decision of awarding the EU with the Nobel Prize was to show that the EU’s post-war chapters, after 1945, are mostly made of peace, democracy and reconciliation.”
Blogger Iain Martin said that it was the Allies led by the Americans, the Russians and the British who defeated and disarmed the Germans after World War II, according to the Telegraph.
“Throughout the period it was the NATO led by the Americans and British which kept peace in Western Europe,” he said, according to the Telegraph.
Givens said that this statement was partially accurate.
“Most European countries are part of NATO and France and Britain were (part of the) Allies,” said Givens.
Givens said that the reason for the American intervention back then is that Europe was dependent on the U.S.A. for its defense.
“Europe’s economic growth after World War II would have been stymied if they would have paid for their own defense, but they pay in other ways, like humanitarian aid,” she said.
Although one of the main goals of the EU is to promote peace and human rights, there are some European countries in our present time, which are still holding back on the full integration of immigrants or others who are struggling economically like Greece, said Sene.
Givens said that the economic state in the EU could lead to “further discord” in the region, such as the riots and violence, which took place in Greece.
On Oct. 9, protesters rallied in Athens during the visit of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Greece, according to CNN.
According to the German newspaper Spiegel, the representative of the Greek left-wing political party Syriza said that the EU is the reason why Greek people are now facing a “daily war.”