Sunday March 29, 2015 Search
Weather | Athens
14o C
09o C
News
Business
Comment
Life
Sports
Community
Survival Guide
Greek Edition
A prize for the European Union but will it ever be at peace with itself?

By Nick Malkoutzis

In a sense, there can be no faulting the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to award the European Union the 2012 Peace Prize. Its current economic turmoil aside, the EU has been a remarkable example of political integration that has advanced the idea of common interest in a region bedeviled by war.

The union and its forerunners have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe, the committee said in its statement. Many people for whom uncertainty and fear had become the norm were able to enjoy stability and prosperity thanks to the principle promoted by the EU, not just as an institution but as an idea, through which a united vision of the future could be shared.

There have of course been some notable exceptions. The EU's stance during the collapse of former Yugoslavia, for instance, has created a bloody stain that time will struggle to remove. Nevertheless, if viewed as a lifetime achievement award, the EU will perhaps justifiably feel that it deserves the peace prize. The question, though, is does the accolade also signify that the EU is nearing the end of its lifetime?

As the Nobel Committee prepared to announce that the EU had won the prize, neo-fascists in Athens terrorized people who wanted to watch a play. Their behavior went unchallenged by authorities in a state were institutions are crumbling faster than they can be rebuilt.

Some will say that Greece is a unique case -- that years of political corruption and institutional neglect have left it in a state of dysfunctionality that is unmatched. But then again, they say that Greece was a unique case when the debt crisis erupted and look how that turned out.

The EU would be kidding itself if it believes that the social collapse in Greece could not happen elsewhere. Extremist parties are already prominent in countries like Hungary and Austria, while Geert Wilders continues to spread his hate in the Netherlands, despite his recent setback in the country's recent elections. It would be naive to think that prejudice will not thrive amidst the social and political rubble created by the crisis and the failure to deal with it effectively.

Perhaps the most pervasive form of prejudice, which will prove corrosive for the EU's foundations, is the antagonism that has developed between the eurozone core and periphery. It is tragic that, egged on by politicians who were too cowardly to explain to their people how this crisis arose and how responsibility should be apportioned, millions of Europeans have bought into stereotypes about others living within the Union. This disharmony has entwined itself with the feeling that Europe's institutions have become largely undemocratic and threatens to choke all that is good about the EU.

An extensive Pew Research Center poll (http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/05/29/european-unity-on-the-rocks/) revealed a pessimistic, skeptical Europe of great contrasts. After decades of progress during which travel restrictions have been dropped, more Europeans are traveling within the Union for work, awareness and respect for each other's history and culture increased, and a common future appeared possible, the EU now faces the real prospect of much of this being rolled back by the painful insularism of the past.

In fact, that process has already begun and unless European leaders find some courage, the divisions could become irreversible. In that respect, perhaps the Nobel Prize is a good idea: a wake-up call to decision-makers and citizens alike, reminding them that their fragile construct, which promises so much, could soon be shattered.

The European Union may have earned the Nobel Peace Prize but it quickly has to find a way to be at peace with itself.

[Kathimerini English Edition]

ekathimerini.com , Friday October 12, 2012 (20:05)  
Lets change the subject
Too little, too late?
Time to get moving
The same old story
Disabled convicts to be freed early
A bill allowing prisoners with serious disabilities to be released early is due to be submitted to Parliament next week despite objections from some opposition parties. The would-be legislat...
Greek energy minister starts two-day visit to Russia on Monday
Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis is due to meet his Russian counterpart Alexander Novak and the chief executive of energy giant Gazprom, Alexey Miller, in Moscow on Monday. Lafazaniss m...
Inside News
Fitch downgrades Greece amid bailout uncertainty
Ratings agency Fitch has downgraded Greeces sovereign rating amid growing uncertainty over the new government's pledge to overhaul reforms needed to restart bailout loan payments and avoid d...
Bank accounts continue to bleed
Pressures on Greek bank deposits have continued in March, with sector officials estimating that households and enterprises have withdrawn a net 3 billion euros in the first weeks of this mon...
Inside Business
BASKETBALL
Greens live dangerously in Istanbul
Panathinaikos played with fire in Istanbul, but still managed to beat Galatasaray 86-84 on Friday and climb to the third sport of its group two games before the end of the Euroleague top-16....
SOCCER
Greek federation backs injured Holebas
The Greek soccer federation on Friday insisted that international defender Jose Holebas had been dropped from team training in Austria because of injury and not for any other reason. Media r...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Disabled convicts to be freed early
2. Greek energy minister starts two-day visit to Russia on Monday
3. Opposition tells Tsipras to get control of his party
4. Vitsentzos Kornaros passenger ferry finally on its way
5. Foreign laborer dies after falling from 3rd floor of Iraklio building
6. A 5.3 Richter quake rattles area between Crete and Kasos
more news
Today
This Week
1. Fitch downgrades Greece amid bailout uncertainty
2. Opposition tells Tsipras to get control of his party
3. Let's change the subject
4. Greek energy minister starts two-day visit to Russia on Monday
5. Too little, too late?
6. Disabled convicts to be freed early
Today
This Week
1. Next Monday is D-Day for state funds
2. PM faces Merkel amid race to detail reforms
3. Some more equal than others
4. Greece to present reforms by Monday, says gov't spokesman [Update]
5. Looking at the Chinese model
6. Greece optimistic on deal with euro area next week
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2015, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.