Eurosceptic Norway questions its Peace Prize choice

Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:53am EDT
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By Alister Doyle and Vegard Botterli

OSLO (Reuters) - Some of the fiercest objections to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union on Friday came from Norway, home of the prize.

The country is not in the European Union and voted twice against joining. Friday's announcement reopened political divisions and prompted calls for a review of how the committee that chooses the laureates is appointed.

"The Nobel Committee shows itself as being out of step with the Norwegian people," said Akhtar Chaudhry, a vice-president of parliament and a member of the Socialist Party which opposes EU membership for Norway.

"The Norwegian people have rejected the EU as a concept, but yet we reward it with a Nobel Peace Prize," he said.

The five-member Nobel committee, led by former Labour prime minister Thorbjoern Jagland who favors EU membership, said the 27-nation group had transformed Europe from "a continent of war to a continent of peace".

He said the award, by a Nobel committee that lacks a strong anti-EU voice because of a long-term illness of one member, was a reminder of the EU's role in peace and democracy despite its current debt crisis.

In referendums in 1972 and 1994, the "No" side successfully argued that the EU would undermine Norwegian independence, won only in 1905 from Sweden. Rich from oil and gas, Norway has prospered alone and polls today show overwhelming opposition to EU membership.

"This year's prize is totally absurd," said Kjersti Storroesten, spokesperson for the "No to the EU" organisation. "The EU has little to show for itself in terms of peace."   Continued...