Protesters say European Union does not deserve Peace Prize

OSLO Sun Dec 9, 2012 12:13pm EST

Activists gathered to protest against the Norwegian Nobel Committee's award of the 2012 Peace Prize to the EU in central Oslo December 9, 2012, REUTERS/Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix

Activists gathered to protest against the Norwegian Nobel Committee's award of the 2012 Peace Prize to the EU in central Oslo December 9, 2012,

Credit: Reuters/Cornelius Poppe/NTB Scanpix

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OSLO (Reuters) - Around a thousand members of left-wing and human rights groups marched in Oslo on Sunday to protest against the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union.

Around 50 organizations held the torch-lit march on the eve of the award, arguing that the EU is undemocratic and maintains a large military even as its people suffer an economic downturn.

"Alfred Nobel said that the prize should be given those who worked for disarmament," Elsa-Britt Enger, 70, a representative of Grandmothers for Peace said. "The EU doesn't do that. It is one of the biggest weapons producers in the world."

Past prize winners Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Mairead Maguire have also said the EU does not deserve the award. Norway's Socialist Left party, part of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's government, joined the march.

The Oslo-based Nobel peace committee gave its 2012 prize to the EU for uniting the continent following two world wars and to give it a boost as it tries to overcome its economic crisis.

"The EU brings lasting peace among former enemies who fought... among others two world wars," EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Sunday.

Barroso, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Parliament President Martin Schulz will accept the prize on behalf of the EU on Monday.

(Reporting by Victoria Klesty and Balazs Koranyi; editing by Jason Webb)

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