EU Nobel Peace Prize, Croatian and Serbian Medals of Tolerance – the bubbles in “bubble and squeak”

October 2012 – Ten thousand rally in Croatia against government’s austerity measures Photo:Pixsell

The European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last week; a feel-good moment, froth and bubble rising above, obscuring for a moment or two, the economic distress and national disquiet within the several of its member states (Greece, Spain, Portugal …) who are threatened with bankruptcy and sweeping unemployment that forecast possible widespread unrest.

EU arose from the ashes of 20th Century wars, underpinned by the desire to achieve lasting peace within and between its member nations. And indeed the EU has achieved a great deal in this sphere and it must be congratulated for it. But, one needs to also remember that the “Western” world, which includes EU, has had decades of relative economic prosperity spilling down into personal satisfaction and a solid living standard. One may, therefore, say that achieving peace was rather an inherent element of the “good life”.

As memory of those wars, verbalised on platforms of political rhetoric and promises, slowly fades away with the ageing (and dying off) of the WWI and WWII generations in particular, the stage set for the rationale of “let’s not allow such wars to ever happen again” is fast receding. The younger generations want peace but they want a personal prosperous future with ever rising anxiety and distress. Peace alone does not feed the family; peace alone does not provide a future.

It seems that Nobel Prize Judges entertained controversy once again last week. Three years ago they awarded U.S. President Barack Obama a Peace prize for what he hadn’t done yet and this year they awarded EU for what they had achieved long ago – steered peace, reconciliation and prosperity on the continent previously ravaged by vicious wars.

At this time of economic crises the Nobel Peace Prize to EU certainly serves as a reminder to all that there is more to EU life than the Euro, than unemployment, than distress felt by millions staring down the abyss of hopelessness. The feel-good aspect of the Nobel Peace Prize lifts the spirits of the deserving politicians. For the vast majority of people though, on whom a lasting peace depends – it’s merely froth and bubble.

According to Croatia’s President Ivo Josipovic and Serbia’s former President Boris Tadic will on Tuesday 16 October receive European Medal of Tolerance. It’s impossible to ignore the thought that springs to mind here: EU is desperate in demonstrating that its original mandate of creating peace and reconciliation on the continent is a success, even if that peace and reconciliation may in fact be very flimsy and questionable when it comes down to where it counts – on the street.

With the crumbling of Communism in Eastern Europe, the EU swiftly took under its wings the states crumbling from the long-lasting totalitarian regimes, in which roots of democratic and economic apocalypse were more than just palpable. The rules and conditions for the accession of new EU member states were quite relaxed and relatively easy when compared to current ones. Several Eastern European countries simply slipped into the EU with remarkable ease.

The breakup of former Yugoslavia presented another opportunity for the EU to exert its weight upon a peacekeeping come reconciliation rationale for its own existence. The former Republic of Yugoslavia, Slovenia, entered the EU rather easily. The “Balkan” war of early 1990’s hadn’t really touched it; minor unrest on Slovenia’s streets lasted a day or two – the Belgrade based “Yugoslav” aggressor decided they were not interested in Slovenia as part of Greater Serbia dream – anyway.

When it came to Croatia – well that was an entirely different matter. EU embarked on an almost vicious campaign of equating the victim with the aggressor when it came to Croatia’s War of Independence.

So, what really stands behind the European Medal of Tolerance Josipovic and Tadic are about to receive?

Another step in the equating of victim with the aggressor!?

Does tolerance mean discarding the rights of victims! Has it come to the point where EU rewards tolerance on personal levels (e.g. between two presidents) and ignores the national ones? One would have thought that if a president of a country is awarded a medal it’s because of the effect his/her actions have had on the nation, in the nation, on the people.

Indeed, since it’s offered, Josipovic should receive the medal of tolerance – it’s for for yapping away with Tadic anyway. Yapping away with Tadic hadn’t addressed the people’s plight for the processing of all war criminals during and since WWII. It almost seems that both Josipovic and Tadic are receiving a medal for tolerance because they’ve tolerated without blinking an eyelid to the people’s calls for justice for all victims. Neither Josipovic nor Tadic had budged a single millimeter in the efforts for the Belgrade based documents and evidence reportedly showing beyond any reasonable doubt that it was the Serbs that ordered their own to leave Croatia in 1995 and that it was not the Croatians who deported them by force or fear. For the latter Croatian Generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac are crawling up the “Calvary” and Croatians at large considered by many as having participated in a joint criminal enterprise, for the latter a great deal of Croatian nation cannot exist in peace or dignity – although innocent of these charges. So, no Medal of Tolerance is truly deserved. Both Josipovic and Tadic have allowed, if not championed together with the EU, the equating of victims with aggressors.

Well, the pot for the good old “bubble and squeak” is already simmering. Medals for tolerance and peace prizes are bubbling away in EU parliament and presidential offices across the EU while millions of unemployed and those whose livelihoods are being fiercely eroded through austerity measures keep increasingly squeaking under the pressure of a bleak economic future. In Croatia, tens of thousands people rally against unemployment, against austerity measures, against the shutting down of thousands of companies, against government’s discrimination between different classes of war and post-war victims … In Greece the masses dress as Nazis to welcome Angela Merkel with her austerity measures, scuffles and aggression rise on the streets … In United Kingdom Scotland’s wanting out of UK … Violent rallies across Portugal, Spain, Italy… against austerity measures, against hopelessness, against the very governments huddling around the EU peace and tolerance flag.

Perhaps the Nobel Peace Prize to EU was not so much for its past deeds but for its future ones?

In that light the EU Nobel Peace Prize is not as idiotic as some media has painted it to be this week. But a Medal of Tolerance for the president of Croatia and the former president of Serbia is truly froth and bubble that leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those walking the streets, waiting for justice (which always paves the way for true tolerance) where it truly counts. For EU it’s a gimmick in political camouflaging, a flimsy feather in the cap for solid reconciliation. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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