“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.”