The EU and the Nobel Peace Prize

While thinking of the EU receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in contributing to the advancement of peace and reconciliation and democracy in Europe, it is difficult to ignore the reality of the Balkan wars and their enduring impact on everyday life on all of the citizens of the region. As the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced its selection of the European Union as the winner of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, news in BiH broadcasted the recovery of 11 bodies from a mass grave in the northeastern part of the country.

"The heinous crimes committed during the 1990's in the Balkans are familiar to all Europeans and that's what makes the Nobel Committee's selection of the EU as this year's Peace Prize laureate simply unbelievable to me," stated Columbia University professor Tanya Domi whose article "Why Giving the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize Was Wrong" appeared in The Atlantic among other news sources. "I read and re-read the citation: 'for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.' Knowing what happened and did not happen to stop the wars in the Balkans, how can the EU claim it has carried out an honorable diplomatic and military effort in the Balkans?" wrote Domi.

In agreement with Domi, Erol Avdovic, a Bosnian journalist based in New York City stated that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee missed a great chance in giving the prize to someone such as Malala Yousafzai who has shown so much courage in fighting the Taliban or Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Founder and President of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation, who has been fighting for peace and justice for decades. On the contrary, various other journalists disagreed, even going as far as to say how ex-Yugoslav countries know why the EU deserves the prize. "Here in the Balkans, such things are not taken for granted. A few hours after the announcement of the Peace Prize, I was talking to Vesna Pusic, the foreign minister of Croatia. She welcomed it" stated journalist Tim Judah. 

Undeniably, there has been a great deal of progress since World War I and II, however, the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s provided an opportunity for the European Community to exert its strength and stop yet another genocide from occurring. In fact, the late Richard Holbrooke, who brokered the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in BiH, once stated in Foreign Affairs that the Bosnian war was "the greatest collective security failure of the West since the 1930s." Therefore the question remains, is the EU truly a noble recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize? 

Proponents of it receiving the award have pointed out that Croatia's eventual membership, Serbia's application to accede, and Montenegro's interest in joining legitimize the EU's peace work in the Balkans. Within the time that it took the Norwegian Nobel Committee to announce that the EU won its award, Bosnian communities were reliving the enormity that changed their history forever and took the lives of their loved ones.