Friday December 19, 2014 Search
Weather | Athens
17o C
10o 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)  
New weapons of diplomacy
Oblivious to change
Europes drama in Greece needs final act to avoid tragedy
A pointless battle
Govt spokeswoman says bribery claims badly-played charade, heralds legal action if evidence not produced
Responding to claims by Independent Greeks deputy Pavlos Haikalis on Friday that an unidentified individual tried to bribe him to vote in favor of the coalition's candidate in the first roun...
Former premier Mitsotakis to meet President Papoulias to discuss political upheaval
Former prime minister and New Democracy honorary president Constantinos Mitsotakis was to meet with President Karolos Papoulis at 2 p.m. on Friday after the former requested the meeting, cit...
Inside News
Importers told to pay up in advance
In the last 10 days foreign suppliers have again started asking for the full cost of commodities exported to Greece to be paid in advance by their local representatives, in a picture reminis...
Jobless rate posts steady decline
Unemployment fell to 25.5 percent in the third quarter of the year, against 26.6 percent in the second quarter of 2014 and 27.2 percent in the third quarter of 2013, according to seasonally ...
Inside Business
SOCCER
PAOK loss at Giannina brings Olympiakos to within a point
The bad losses that PAOK and Panathinaikos suffered on the road on Thursday allowed Olympiakos to gain significant ground on the table and come to within one point from the top after the mid...
BASKETBALL
Reds lose in Turkey to motivated Galatasaray
Olympiakos went down at Galatasaray 79-74 on Thursday for its second defeat in the first round of the Euroleague that ended with the Reds topping their pool with eight wins in 10 games. With...
Inside Sports
SPONSORED LINK: FinanzNachrichten.de
SPONSORED LINK: BestPrice.gr
RECENT NEWS
1. Govt spokeswoman says bribery claims badly-played charade, heralds legal action if evidence not produced
2. Former premier Mitsotakis to meet President Papoulias to discuss political upheaval
3. Ship with 200 migrants off Pylos towed to Italy after passengers refuse to stop in Greece
4. Independent Greeks MP Haikalis claims attempted bribery for presidential vote
5. Greek PM Samaras confronts peril putting his Greek transformation to vote
6. PAOK loss at Giannina brings Olympiakos to within a point
more news
Today
This Week
1. Independent Greeks MP Haikalis claims attempted bribery for presidential vote
2. Greek PM Samaras confronts peril putting his Greek transformation to vote
3. Ship with 200 migrants off Pylos towed to Italy after passengers refuse to stop in Greece
4. Former premier Mitsotakis to meet President Papoulias to discuss political upheaval
5. Gov't spokeswoman says bribery claims 'badly-played charade,' heralds legal action if evidence not produced
6. Europe's drama in Greece needs final act to avoid tragedy
Today
This Week
1. Juncker warns Greeks against voting 'extreme forces' into power
2. Romanos and the dilemma
3. Samaras summons bond vigilantes with euro exit talk
4. A friendly yet firm message from Pierre Moscovici
5. High stakes
6. Gap between SYRIZA and New Democracy closing, says poll
Find us ...
... on
Twitter
... on Facebook
About us  |  Subscriptions  |  Advertising  |  Contact us  |  Athens Plus  |  RSS  |   
Copyright 2014, H KAΘHMEPINH All Rights Reserved.