EU Acceptance Speech Nobel Peace Prize

In case I will be asked to represent the European Union in Oslo, this will be my speech (original text in Dutch)

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Your Majesties, Your Royal Highness, Excellencies, distinguished members of the Nobel Committee, my fellow citizens of Europe and of the world,

 

On behalf of the 500 million inhabitants of the countries belonging to the European Union, I accept the Nobel Peace Prize 2012. I do this with pride. Nevertheless I’m mindful that in the European Union at this very moment more than 25 million people are out of work and 120 million people living in poverty. We know that their number is growing every day.

In recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of them marched in southern Europe for dignity, respect, reconciliation, and European solidarity; but their legitimate call was brutally answered with tear gas and the charge of riot police. I am here for them because the EU offers them no peace and no reconciliation. Instead, it shows them a lack of democracy and human rights. For them the EU offers hunger, cold, illness, and exclusion.

Therefore I have to ask you why this prize is awarded to the EU: the EU in which a large part of its population is compelled to bitterly struggle for its existence and livelihood, the EU that brought all these people no peace and no reconciliation, which is the essence of the Nobel Prize of peace.

In reading your motivation, I understand that this respected prize is given for the way we, influenced by the Cold War, are driven to cooperate. We exploited this long period of a strained and forced peace to move former foes to economic cooperation. In that sense it is indeed a hopeful development that we have reached an alternative for resolving our disagreements and conflicts. Although, unlike you, I do not say that we have played a crucial role in this development. But it is a fact that over the last 60 years we have known no armed war between the EU member countries.

Yet I have difficulty to award the absence of armed warfare exclusively within the borders of the EU. Maybe I am too hard on ourselves in the eyes of your Nobel Committee, but in recent decades the EU did not prevent violent war outside its borders. Our political and economic elite has even encouraged others and cooperated with them. Terrible wars have been fought close to our borders. Even in the past decades, despite the EU, Europe was not an exclusive continent of peace. Under our control and with our approval residents and EU companies have supplied the most terrible weapons to immoral leaders and regimes. While our acclaimed peace was cherished by you, we sent our troops into conflicts beyond our borders, we exploited the military violence and contributed significantly to this warfare in other parts of the world. It is in my eyes a dark side of this medal, which we cannot, which we will not erase.

Also, our (glorified by you) longterm European peace is not quite what it seems. Even though war between our countries is no longer waged with conventional weapons, in its place comes new means of coercion. Our European Commission now uses accumulated economic interdependence to put national governments under pressure by threatening significant financial consequences. This commission has managed to bring ruling governments under technocratic leadership. Commissioned by the European Commission, governments increased the effective pressure on their own population. Democratically acquired welfare is being moved backwards, step by step. In this battle, residents are also put under pressure and forced to participate in the intimidation and exclusion of their less fortunate fellow citizens. They do this to prevent the loss of their personal privileges, “No food, no peace,” says the protestors in Spain. “We are fighting for our lives,” scream the Greeks. I tell you, if this is our peace it deserves no prize.

Yet, despite these reservations, I accept this prize of peace because I believe in the future of Europe and all its inhabitants. I refuse to accept that we can only move on a path already paved. I refuse to believe that we are at the mercy of the whims of an indefinable ‘financial market’, that numbers are more important than people and that oppression, war and violence are inevitable. I refuse to accept that countries put their own material interests above the interests of man, that differences between people should lead to an uneven distribution of prosperity. And I refuse to accept that we, in Europe and in the World, could never live together in peace and tolerance.

I also refuse to accept the cynical view that we first have to walk through a deeper valley: that people first have to lose their means of existence and self-respect to build a new humane society. I refuse to accept that ultimately a violent revolution is necessary to recover civil rights in Europe.

I believe it should be possible to feed anyone who is hungry and to care for everyone who is in need. I believe that we can give everyone shelter and education, self-esteem and perspective. I believe that the regime of people who take care of themselves first, before they take care of each other, has come to an end. Now is the time of those who will take care of others first. I believe that what is torn down by selfishness and competition can be built up by solidarity and cooperation.

Today I come to Oslo as a representative of people living in the EU, inspired with faith in humanity. I accept this award on behalf of everyone who believes in a fair distribution of prosperity and social integration of all people. I know that this award is a tribute to the EU as a hopeful alliance of European countries. It might seem that an impersonal bureaucratic organization has received an award. But remember the simple fact that I (a casual Euro-critical citizen) stand here to receive this award and to speak to you, means that there is still hope for all people in Europe and the world.

If, at this moment and at this stage, powerful institutions and organizations do not give themselves or their mighty representatives a voice. And dare to give that voice to someone who expresses the injustice and suffering of the population. This is the next step to the end of injustice and the beginning of reconciliation and peace. 

 

(Thanks to Fleur and Janet from Canada for translation)

 

 

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