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Activists Say Brutal Austerity in Greece Should Disqualify EU From Nobel Peace Prize

Democracy Now! speaks with critics of the European Union across Oslo as it was set to receive the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize.

AMY GOODMAN: Yes, the European Union has won the Nobel Peace Prize. On Sunday, Democracy Now! talked to supporters and critics of the European Union across the capital of Oslo. We stopped at the Nobel Institute, the Oslo Peace House, the Grand Hotel where the banquet will be today, as well as the streets of Oslo. This is Greek lawmaker Dimitris Kodelas of the left-wing opposition, Syriza, speaking at the Peace House on Sunday.

DIMITRIS KODELAS: When we heard that the Nobel Prize for peace will be given to the European Union, we first thought it was a joke, especially because this comes in days when mainly the peoples of South Europe are living with the results of a financial war, and their countries are turning to colonies of debt with deprived citizens and looted national wealth. For example, in my country, the decision of the last three years will be over 30 percent in 2013. The unemployment rate is now 26 percent, reaching 58 percent for the youth. One-third of the society in Greece is below or at the edge of poverty. Is it ever possible that the initiators of this situation are given awards?

Mrs. Merkel is going to receive the prize. Instead of peace prize, she should be awarded the prize of neoliberal fundamentalism. Mr. Samaras, the prime minister of Greece, should take the prize of the best student of Mrs. Merkel. And in reality, if a prize should be given to someone, these are the struggling peoples in South Europe, in North Africa and in the Middle East, who are fighting for peace, dignity, justice, democracy and independence.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Dimitris Kodelas, Syriza member of the Greek parliament, the leading left party in Greece, fiercely anti-austerity, that came in a close second in the last election in Greece. Across town, a very different news conference.

HERMAN VAN ROMPUY: We have come to Oslo to celebrate a major achievement: how Europe turned from a continent of war into a continent of peace.

AMY GOODMAN: Just before the activists’ news conference on Sunday, the Nobel laureates and the head of the Nobel Committee held their own news conference at the Nobel Institute.

MARTIN SCHULZ: The European Union is a fascinating project, binding states and nations together in common institutions.

JOSÉ MANUEL BARROSO: Being here to jointly receive this award on behalf of the European Union is an honor and a humbling experience.

THORBJØRN JAGLAND: The European Union has been a continued peace congress. The disputes and dramas have never led to war. On the contrary, they have led to compromises.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m Amy Goodman. We’re here in Oslo, Norway, on the day before the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded of 2012. I’m standing in front of a statue of the bust of Alfred Nobel. A news conference was just held with the leaders of the European Union and the head of the Nobel Committee. No question was asked—and they took almost no questions from women, only the first—about the issue of militarization of the European countries, the European Union.

GEIR LUNDESTAD: Most of you will not be able to ask your questions. I think the final question will go to the gentleman in the back. Yes, you have waited the longest.

AMY GOODMAN: My question to them would have been: As the streets are about to fill with protests, no question was asked about the peace protests about to take place in the streets of Oslo, as many gather from around the world, questioning, criticizing the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union. The issues being raised, that the European Union’s reliance on arms exports—European Union member states account for a third of the world’s total arms exports.

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