Sunday February 1, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
16o C
13o 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)  
Europe waits for proposals from Athens
Notes provide more clues on prison breakout scheme
Drug prices are falling but volume sold remains high
Tsipras plays down chance of rift
ECB’s Constancio signals Greek waiver may end if program dropped
Vitor Constancio signaled that the European Central Bank stands ready to end its acceptance of Greece’s junk-rated debt for bank funding if the government drops out of an aid program. If a n...
Greece starts countdown to cash crunch saying bailout over
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis set the clock ticking on Greece’s standoff with the euro area on Friday saying he’s ready to take his chances without a financial backstop rather than submi...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Panathinaikos preserves perfect home record
After yet another great performance at home, Panathinaikos defeated Galatasaray 86-77 in Athens on Friday to get to three wins in five games at the Euroleague top-16. The Greek champion shoo...
SOCCER
Gattuso: Unpaid OFI players couldn´t buy food
Former coach Gennaro Gattuso has lifted the lid on the plight of crisis-club OFI Crete which has been banned from playing in the Super League until it clears mounting debts with its staff. T...
Inside Sports
COMMENTARY
Unyielding truth
Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s recent statement that “growth does not mean having Porsche Cayennes in the narrow streets of Greece” has made something of an impression and is now being ...
EDITORIAL
This is not a game
Greece’s negotiations with its partners and creditors must be conducted in such a way as to safeguard the country’s real economy, a vital sector which prior to the elections had appeared to ...
Inside Comment
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
 RECENT NEWS
1. Europe waits for proposals from Athens
2. Notes provide more clues on prison breakout scheme
3. Drug prices are falling but volume sold remains high
4. Tsipras plays down chance of rift
5. Ex-revenues chief Theoharis claimes political interference
6. Journalist to head Greece´s National Intelligence Service
more news
Today
This Week
1. US to work closely with Greece and EU to resolve differences, says White House
2. Merkel rejects debt writedown for Greece
3. Greek bank debt plummets as investors head for the exit
4. Greek markets plunge as SYRIZA digs in on challenge to austerity
5. Greece starts countdown to cash crunch saying bailout over
6. Tsipras says Greece to repay ECB, IMF, reach deal with euro area
Today
This Week
1. Greek Elections 2015 | LIVE
2. SYRIZA heads for historic victory but without majority
3. SYRIZA's win will test institutions
4. Greek Elections 2015: The day after | LIVE
5. EU must accept that Greek debt relief is inevitable
6. Athens may veto further EU sanctions against Russia
   Find us ...
  ... on
Twitter
     ... on Facebook   
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright © 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.