Nobel Committee president Thorbjoern Jagland announced the prize on Friday praising the European Union and its forerunners “to have for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
“The stabilizing part played by the European Union has helped to transform a once-torn Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace,” he said.
“Over a seventy-year period, Germany and France had fought three wars. Today war between Germany and France is unthinkable. This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners,” he said.
This year’s prize decision came as a surprise as the EU is currently facing a serious economic and budgetary crisis.
In a first reaction, European Union Council President Herman Van Rompuy said that the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was a tribute to more than six decades of EU countries acting to “overcome war and divisions.”
The prize recognised “the unique effort by ever more European states to overcome war and divisions and to jointly shape a continent of peace and prosperity,” Van Rompuy said on Twitter after the award was announced in Oslo.
“The EU is an unique project that replaced war with peace, hate with solidarity. Overwhelming emotion for awarding of Nobel prize to EU” said Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder declared: “The committee may have made controversial decisions in the past years concerning this very important prize, but this one cannot but be warmly welcomed. European integration has been the main reason why the European continent has become a haven of peace, freedom and prosperity nobody would have dreamt of 60 years ago.”
Lauder went on to say: “When the Iron Curtain was brought down and the dictatorial regimes in Central and Eastern Europe swept away, it was the EU that provided a perspective for the new democracies and restrained chauvinistic temptations. Today, despite the economic and financial crisis, the European Union continues to provide an example to other regions in the world that reconciliation is possible if there is the political will for it.”
“Jews and members other minority communities have been among the main beneficiaries closer European integration, and although anti-Semitism and racism continue to worry us, the European Union is – and will be in the future – our main ally in overcoming these scourges” the WJC president stated, adding:
“On the international level, the EU should take this prize as an encouragement to take a more proactive and energetic stance on the important issues the world faces today, including the Iranian threat, the rise of Islamism and the worrying developments in the Middle East.
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor declared: “The European Jewish communities have felt the many evolutions, revolutions and convulsions on our continent. However, from its very inception, we welcomed a more unified Europe which has sought to bring together all Europeans from many backgrounds into one family and I am proud to say that European Jewry embraced the ideal of an inclusive and integrated Europe.”
“The Nobel Peace Prize sends a very strong message that the European Union’s achievements of turning a continent that has known so much bloodshed and conflict now deals with its challenges in a peaceful and tolerant manner,” he said.