The Atomium - Brussels, Belgium
None of the abstract concepts comes closer to fulfilled utopia than that of eternal peace. - Theodor Adorno, German Philosopher and a prominent member of the Frankfurt School of philosophy know for its critical theory of society
By Ian Trynor
Wracked by its worst ever crisis of confidence in almost 60 years, the European Union received a surprise boost to its self-esteem when it won the Nobel peace prize.
In a decision that many saw as paradoxical given the multiple frictions and disputes afflicting the union as it struggles to save its single currency, the Nobel committee in Oslo took the bigger and longer view, citing the EU's long record of generating reconciliation between historical foes and helping to restore democracy and peace to the erstwhile dictatorships of southern Europe and the former communist regimes of the old Soviet bloc.
The award brought a rapturous reaction at EU headquarters in Brussels, as well as sour and embittered criticism from europhobes and Eurosceptics, principally the British. (...)
José Manuel Barroso, head of the European commission, said the prize had been awarded to all 500 million EU citizens. (...)
Rather than dwelling on the crisis of the past three years, the Nobel committee looked back two generations to the founding of what was to become the modern EU as a political and economic instrument above all aimed at halting the historical rivalries and enmities between Germany and France that saw the two countries fight three wars in the century before the EU was established.
The committee said the EU's powers of healing were being brought to bear on the Balkans, the scene of bloodbaths only 20 years ago, through a policy of integration towards former Yugoslavia. Slovenia is already a member and Croatia is slated to become the EU's 28th member next year.
The praise for the Balkan policy came despite the EU's failures to stop the bloodshed in Bosnia in 1992-95.
In a further paradox given the emphasis on the EU's prowess at reconciliation, the current six-month presidency is held by Cyprus, a country whose intractable conflict and partition has defied decades of mediation and has contributed hugely to the freeze in Turkey's negotiations to join the EU.
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