Gilmore welcomes EU's Nobel prize

Fri, Oct 12, 2012, 01:00

The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU provided a "great fillip" to Ireland's forthcoming presidency of the European Council next year, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has said.

“I very warmly welcome the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union,” told reporters in Dublin shortly after the announcement this morning.

“The European Union has been the most successful peace process in our lifetime, and indeed in our living memory.," he said.

"When you think of the fact that Europe, in the first half of the 20th century, tore itself apart, slaughtered its young in two great wars and that the protagonists in those wars came together, worked to develop the EU. The wars of the 20th century that occurred in Europe would be unthinkable now.

“When you look as well at the role the European Union has played in reaching out to parts of the European continent, like the Balkans, where only 20 years ago we saw slaughter and genocide, now some of those countries are already members or about to be members of the European Union and others, there are enlargement negotiations going on with them.

“Indeed, the role that the EU has played in supporting peace processes and peace efforts in different parts of our continent, including the financial support that the EU has provided for the peace process in Ireland. I think it’s a great recognition of the peaceful role and the role in contributing to peace that the European Union has made.

“We so often think of the EU in economic terms and political terms. But it is a decision which causes us to stand back and look at the fact that the EU has made such a huge contribution to the maintenance of peace in Europe, to the promotion of peace on our continent and to supporting the efforts that are needed to bed down peace.”

Asked if it provided a good springboard for Ireland’s EU presidency in the first six months of next year, he said: “Yes indeed it does. Ireland will be taking on the presidency of the EU at a time which is very challenging for the EU. We all know the economic difficulties that we have to address, we will be addressing the EU budget, we will be seeking to press ahead with the jobs and growth agenda in Europe and deal with some difficult trading issues that will be on our agenda in the early part of next year.

“It gives us a great fillip that moving into that Presidency, the European Union will have received the highest acknowledgement for its contribution to peace in Europe and to the promotion of peace.”

Asked to comment on speculation that Cyprus, as the current holder of the EU presidency, and Ireland as holder of the incoming presidency, might be jointly presented with the prize, the Tánaiste said: “Those arrangements are matters that will have to be decided over time. I’m just happy that the EU’s role in securing and maintaining peace in Europe and promoting peace has been acknowledged. It’s a good decision that citizens of Europe can look and reflect on what has probably been the EU’s biggest achievement which is that we have a peaceful continent.”

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