Photo Gallery EU Leaders React to the Nobel Peace Prize

The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the European Union. Here is what some of Europe's leaders, past and present, had to say about the announcement and the prize's significance.
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"The prize comes at the right time for Europe as it grows together and reinforces the efforts for further integration across the European Union," said former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. "It's a definitive rejection of nationalism and a small-state mentality."

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"Reconciliation is what the EU is about. It can serve as inspiration," wrote European Parliament President Martin Schulz on Twitter. "The EU is an unique project that replaced war with peace, hate with solidarity," he added in a second message.

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"We must never forget that, at its origins, the European Union brought together nations emerging from the ruins of the devastating Second World War and united them in a project for peace," said European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. "The Nobel Peace Prize Council, and in fact the international community, are now sending a very important message to Europe: that the European Union is something very precious, that we should cherish it."

Foto: Olivier Hoslet/ dpa
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"We are all very proud that the efforts of the EU for keeping the peace in Europe are rewarded," European Council President Herman Van Rompuy told reporters in Helsinki on Friday, shortly after the Nobel Peace Prize announcement. "Europe got through two civil wars in the 20th century and we have established peace thanks to the European Union. So the European Union is the biggest peacemaker in history."

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"It is right that this extraordinary effort that has been accomplished by the Europeans and their leaders to establish a lasting peace on their continent -- historically ravaged by war -- is rewarded and honored," Former French President and European Union architect Valery Giscard d'Estaing told Reuters in a statement.

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"This is a great decision and it makes me proud and happy," said German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. "European integration is the most successful peace project in history. Peace and freedom grew out of the rubble of two terrible world wars -- and sworn enemies became inseparable partners."

Foto: Rainer Jensen/ dpa
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"The European Union has played a vital role in healing the wounds of history and promoting peace, reconciliation and cooperation across Europe," said NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "It has contributed to the advancement of freedom, democracy and human rights across the Continent and beyond."

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"Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union is a particularly happy and significant decision," said former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher. "It honors the peace-fostering role of European togetherness ... (and) ... is also a clear signal to those in Europe who, in alluding to supposed national interests, endanger the work of European unity."

Foto: Getty Images
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the announcement as a "wonderful decision." She said that the award was "simultaneously an incentive and an obligation -- for me personally as well" especially as European leaders try to calm the storm surrounding the EU's common currency. Merkel also noted how Europeans have enjoyed 60 years of peace. Although it is "just a blink of an eye" in historical terms, she said, it should encourage people to never forget that they must continuously strive for peace.

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"The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 for the EU is above all a confirmation for the European peace project," said former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. "It is also encouragement for all of us to continue on the path to a united Europe, that is to say, to stick to the ever-closer ties on our Continent and to develop Europe despite some difficulties and problems that must still be overcome. As Europeans, we all have reason to be proud today. I am proud, and I wish for God's blessing for us on our further path to a united Europe."

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