Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Twitter Comes Alive on Bestowing of Prize

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Twitter Comes Alive on Bestowing of Prize

Article excerpt

In response to the news, Europeans struggling with austerity showed that they could still loosen their belts to enjoy a belly laugh - or to vent their spleen.

Eight million Norwegian kroner, the cash award for winning the Nobel Peace Prize, will not remedy the European Union's financial woes. But if humor is fungible, the Nobel committee got its money's worth in awarding the 2012 prize to the Union.

Europeans may be struggling with the constraints of austerity, but in response to the news on Friday, they showed that they could still loosen their belts for a belly laugh -- or to vent their spleen. Some voices even praised the decision.

In its scope, at least, the Nobel committee's move to award the prize to 500 million people was perfectly in tune with the spirit of an era in which anyone can take to Twitter to provide an instant, informal referendum.

Wags of all political stripes took their cue from Henry Kissinger, who once wondered whose telephone number to dial if he wanted to "call Europe." In the European Union, a political project in which a number of officials and institutions share power with 27 national leaders, who would go to Oslo to officially pick up the prize?

On Twitter, Charlemagne, a column in The Economist magazine, awarded one of the three people who hold the post of "president" of an E.U. governing institution -- Martin Schulz, at the European Parliament -- the "prize among 'presidents' for the fastest acceptance tweet." Mr. Schulz had posted a message on Twitter: "Deeply touched honoured that the #EU has won the #Nobel Peace Prize. Reconciliation is what the EU is about. It can serve as inspiration."

In euro-skeptic Britain, which is in the European Union but not in the euro zone, the news was met with derision.

Benedict Brogan, deputy editor of The Daily Telegraph in London, wrote: "I suppose it could have been even sillier: They could have awarded E.U. the Nobel for economics."

This joke, and variations on the theme, quickly made the rounds. Some applied a similar formula to the Union's difficulty in surmounting disagreements between rich and cash-strapped member states. …

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