European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the European Union signals that unity in the region is a continuous project.
“This prize is a powerful reminder that Europe is first and foremost a project of peace,” and “the ideals that have inspired this project and the people that dedicated their lives to it are now being rewarded,” Draghi said in Tokyo today at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund. “But this prize also reminds us that it is an ongoing project. This prize asks us to make this project one that will also bring prosperity to all those who suffer in Europe today because of the needed economic adjustments.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee bestowed the prize in the same week as German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Europe’s most powerful politician, encountered rioters and anti-Nazi taunts on a trip to debt-stricken, recession-wracked Greece. Praise for the EU’s past was coupled with a warning that economic ills and social instability pose a risk to the historic achievement of entrenching peace and democracy on the continent that brought forth two world wars.
“The EU has united war-torn countries into what is now the most lasting peace process,” European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said today. “The EU underpinned shared values, the respect of democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights.”
The Nobel Committee stressed the enlargement of the EU as one of the achievements meriting the prize, Rehn said.
“Enlargement has been the soft power of democratic and economic transformation in Europe over the past decades,” he said. “As a committed European, I recognize the need to continue to work for these values and that’s what we will certainly do.”