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Norwegian protesters say EU Nobel Peace Prize win devalues award

More than 50 organizations plan to march in Oslo on Sunday to protest of the Nobel Committee's award of the 2012 Peace Prize to the EU at a time of debt crisis.

By Correspondent / December 7, 2012

Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland announces the European Union as the recipients of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo two months ago. Many Norwegians are critical of the EU receiving the award, and a protest march is planned for the day before the award ceremony.

Heiko Junge/NTB Scanpix Norway/AP/File

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Oslo

Since the decision this October to give the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, many have questioned its worthiness, given the current social and economic turmoil there. Among the critics who will be booing loudest at the award this coming week will be the Norwegians themselves – including some in government.

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The Norwegian Peace Council, which oversees several Norwegian peace organizations, plans a protest march against the prize on Dec. 9, the day before European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz, accept the medal and diploma in Oslo City Hall.

The protest “Nobel Peace Prize Initiative for 2012” will include not only the Norwegian organization "No to EU," but also members of Norway’s ruling Center and Socialist Left parties, the national trade union LO Oslo, and Save the Children Youth. More than 50 organizations plan to march from the central Oslo square at Youngstorget that evening, bearing torches and the banner “Not a Peace Prize For Our Time.” Among the international participants, three former Peace Prize laureates plan to attend along with Dimitris Kostelas of the Greek opposition party Syriza, who will give the closing speech in front of Parliament.

“We expect more than 1,000 people to march,” says Hedda Langemyr, the Norwegian Peace Council director. “[The EU] is not a worthy prize winner.”

Heming Olaussen, leader of No to EU, stresses the protest is not a protest against EU membership, even though 3 out of 4 Norwegians currently oppose joining. Rather, it marks the organization’s objection to the worthiness of the EU as a prize winner, citing the EU’s current armament profile, the social and economic unrest amidst the growing youth unemployment in Greece and Spain, its aggressive trade policy toward poor developing countries in Latin America, and efforts to prevent African refuges from coming into “rich Europe.”

“This is a provocation to the vast number of Norwegians,” Mr. Olaussen told a meeting of international journalists. “We got 500 new members in two days after the [Peace Prize] announcement.”

“I agree it would have been more logical at another point in time, but that does not preclude it from having it now,” replies Janós Herman, EU ambassador to Norway. He cited the EU’s record in gradually enlarging the “zone of peace,” the large amount of resources it has provided in humanitarian aid around the world, its fight against climate change, and peace-keeping operations among the reasons why the EU deserves the prize.

“We don’t think the economic crisis is the product of the EU,” he adds. “We don’t accept the copyright for that.”

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