Thursday October 2, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
28o C
16o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
Crisis-hit Europeans see cruel joke in EU Nobel

”Is this a joke?” said Chrisoula Panagiotidi, 36, an Athens beautician, laughing derisively upon hearing that the European Union had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Three days ago she lost her job, becoming one of the one-in-four Greeks who is unemployed in the fifth year of a biting recession. Told it was no joke at all, her incredulity quickly turned to disgust.

”It mocks us and what we are going through right now,” she said. ”All it will do is infuriate people here.” Across a continent where the EU’s policies are blamed for deepening the worst economic crisis in living memory, many Europeans said they were simply baffled by the prize. Others were outraged.

”I can’t get my head around it. They’d be last on my list.

It’s such a bland and inert organisation,” said Philip Deane, 48, an IT consultant walking along the River Liffey in Dublin.

”Given the state of the economy, the timing is really, really bad.” Ireland, like Greece, has been forced to turn to the European Union and IMF for a financial bailout, delivered in the framework of a strict austerity programme.

Mariana Fotiou, 69, an Athens lottery ticket vendor was furious.

”It makes me so angry. We have a financial war on, don’t they realise that? The only morale it will boost is Merkel’s,” she said, referring to the German chancellor, whose insistence on austerity measures as the price for aid has made her a hate figure in Greece.

Earlier this week Merkel visited Athens. Protesters burned Nazi flags and clashed with police in fury at her presence.

The irony of awarding the prize at a time when the EU is being pilloried in several European capitals, occasionally by crowds of rioters, was not lost on the Nobel Committee itself.

”The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest. The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights,” said Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland in announcing the award in Oslo.

Ed Balls, a politician from the opposition British Labour Party, joked at a panel discussion in Dublin: ”They’ll be cheering in Athens tonight, won’t they.”

Yet even in countries hard hit by the tough economic times, there were still many people who said they understood the logic of awarding a prize to an organisation credited with helping maintain peace for more than half a century on a continent that was ripped apart in two world wars.

”It’s a good thing,” said 48-year-old Howard Spilane in Ireland, where unemployment has tripled since the crisis hit.

”Europe’s in a crisis, but compared to the wars - even compared to the Cold War - Europe is in a better place. People are suffering, but they are not dying. On balance they have achieved a lot.” Such warm responses were also common in parts of Eastern Europe, where many prize membership in the EU as a badge of hard-won European identity and a bulwark against a return of Communist-era totalitarianism.

”I am glad of it, although I do find it strange,” said Andras Kocsis, an 18-year-old student in Budapest, the Hungarian capital. ”I think it’s right, because indeed the EU does a lot for the rights of the people.” But even in the ex-Communist countries, praise was far from universal for an organisation that many have come to resent.

Petr Hajek, deputy head of the office of Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who once supported the EU but has since turned against it, said the EU lacked ”democratic legitimacy” and was contributing to ”animosity among nations”.

”Freedom and democracy are shivering in the corner similar to the way it was in the regimes we experienced in the 20th century in Europe,” he said.

In Bosnia, which hopes to join the bloc but still remembers how a hesitant and divided EU stood by during its 1992-95 war, Kada Hotic called the award ”shameful”. Her son, husband and two brothers were among 8,000 Muslim men and boys massacred by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

”The EU had an obligation to protect minorities in Europe but was incapable or unwilling to protect Muslims in Bosnia and even today it is doing so little to prevent conflicts across the world,” she said. [Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Friday October 12, 2012 (16:35)  
Terror group link prompts police raids and arrests
Samaras to seek confidence vote in bid to rally coalition
Police bust airport trafficking ring
Undocumented migrant flows to Greece ‘have tripled’ minister says
Attica Bank said to have rejected notable offers
Attica Bank has turned down buyout proposals from strong institutional portfolios and investors in recent months, setting the maintenance of the present share and administrative structure of...
PMI index slides anew in September
Greece’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) fell last month to its lowest point this year, hitting 48.4 points – below the zero-change point of 50 points – according to Markit, which compiles t...
Inside Business
SOCCER
Rosenberg punishes Olympiakos´s errors at Malmoe
A disappointing Olympiakos got the worst possible result from its clash with Malmoe in Sweden for the Champions League, going down 2-0 on Wednesday due to its own defensive errors and attack...
SOCCER
All team sports suspended next weekend in memory of dead fan
The government announced on Monday the suspension of all team sports events in Greece scheduled for next weekend, October 4 and 5, in the memory of the Ethnikos Piraeus fan who died a few ho...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Truth before the battle
The coalition has lost its sense of direction in the last few months. Exactly where things went off track is not the question at this stage. What is certain is that if it continues competing...
EDITORIAL
Bending the rules
The flexibility with which laws are implemented has been a fundamental cause for concern in Greece during the post-dictatorship era. Everything becomes a subject for negotiation, even in cas...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Rosenberg punishes Olympiakos´s errors at Malmoe
2. Terror group link prompts police raids and arrests
3. Samaras to seek confidence vote in bid to rally coalition
4. Attica Bank said to have rejected notable offers
5. PMI index slides anew in September
6. Costa Navarino to host big events
more news
Today
This Week
1. Air-raid sirens to go off all over Greece at 11 a.m. in drill
2. Mario Draghi to push ECB to buy Greek, Cypriot 'junk' loans: FT
3. Truth before the battle
4. Smallpox decimates sheep stocks in northern Greece
5. Thessaloniki transport gets more expensive
6. Bending the rules
Today
This Week
1. Greece may opt for unusual president to avoid snap polls, Venizelos says
2. Woman allegedly buried alive by accident in northern Greece
3. Salaries in Greece continue to slide, dipping 1.4 pct in Q2
4. Should you bet with Kissinger on where the world is heading?
5. Cypriots divided by 1974 war seek Shariah hub
6. The shocking thought of euro-dollar parity
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.