Nobel Peace Prize could go to dissidents, EU, religious leaders

Thu Oct 11, 2012 6:10pm EDT
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By Balazs Koranyi and Alister Doyle

OSLO (Reuters) - The Nobel Peace Prize Committee announces its 2012 laureate on Friday with prize watchers favoring east European dissidents, the European Union itself or religious leaders working on Muslim-Christian reconciliation.

"The long term trend is that the world is indeed getting more peaceful," said Geir Lundestad, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute. "Still, every year (picking the winner) is difficult."

Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, often thought to have strong sources, said there would be a single winner this year, unlike 2011 when three women won, and the prize could go to the EU or to activists in Russia, Belarus or Mexico.

"The most spectacular, at least seen with Norwegian eyes, would be if the EU got the peace prize," NRK commentator Knut Magnus Berge said.

He said an award to the EU would highlight its historic role in uniting the continent after World War Two and give the bloc a lift just when the euro zone is mired in a debt crisis.

But voting for the EU could be controversial, since the committee's five members are chosen by the Norwegian parliament and Norway itself has twice voted against joining the EU.

"We all know how divided Norway is on the European Union and we all know that Norway is divided on the Middle East, very divided," Lundestad said. "If you keep the EU and the Middle East out, it's very easy."

Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute Oslo, said a prize to the EU would be "very controversial". He told NRK the EU certainly did not deserve a 2012 prize since it was failing to sort out its problems.   Continued...