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Hollande says Europe should be "honoured" and "dignified" after Nobel prize win

posted 12 Oct 2012, 13:15 by Mpelembe   [ updated 12 Oct 2012, 13:15 ]

French President Francois Hollande says Nobel Prize is a "great honour" for Europe, and that Europe is "proud" yet "aware" of its responsibilities.

 DAKARSENEGAL (OCTOBER 12, 2012) (REUTERS) -  Speaking from the Senegalese capital, Dakar, on Friday (October 12), French President Francois Hollande said Europe should be proud of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for promoting peace, democracy and human rights over six decades.

The award is seen as a morale boost as the bloc struggles to resolve its economic crisis, and served as a reminder that the EU had largely brought peace to a continent which tore itself apart in two world wars in which tens of millions died.

"Awarding Europe this prize is a great honour. I'm thinking about all the generations of men and women who wanted to support this project immediately after the end of the Second World War and reunite the people who previously been fighting (one another) - making it possible not only to achieve peace but to offer even more hope than before. A community together in its interests and destiny," Hollande said after he wrapped up a meeting with Senegal's president Macky Sall.

Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland praised the EU for rebuilding Europefrom the devastation of World War II and for its role in spreading stability after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

Conceived in secret at a chateau near Brussels, what is now the European Union was created by the 1957 Treaty of Rome, signed with great fanfare in the Italian capital's 15th century Palazzo dei Conservatori.

The six-state 'common market' it founded grew into the 27-nation European Unionranging from Ireland's Atlantic shores to the borders of Russia.

At the time the Cold War was in full swing after Soviet tanks put down an anti-communist rebellion in Budapest. Western countries led by the United States had formed NATO and the Kremlin responded with the Warsaw Pact.

But the EU is now mired in crisis with enormous strains between capitals over the euro, the common currency shared by 17 nations and created to further economic and monetary union.

"We are honoured, we are proud and at the same time we are aware of our own responsibilities. Europe is no doubt the biggest great human adventure of the 21st century after the two world wars that ravaged Europe and the world, so let's be dignified," Hollande said.

While welcomed by European leaders, the award will have little practical effect on the debt crisis afflicting the single currency zone, which has brought economic instability and social unrest to several states with rioting in Athens and Madrid.

The award was welcomed by mixed reactions. Whilst Germany seemed delighted, inMadrid, Francisco Gonzalez expressed bafflement and people on the streets of the Greek capital, where demonstrators have burned Nazi flags to protest against German demands for austerity, the award was greeted with disbelief.

Meanwhile the British government, less committed to the European ideal than other EU members, made no comment on the prize.