Twenty-three year-old Larkin Zahra will be one of four young Europeans who will form part of an official EU delegation attending the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on 10 December, having won a public vote on Facebook in the EU’s Nobel Peace Prize contest. The young Maltese was one of 5,397 young Europeans who participated in the contest, and his entry was one of the 16 that were shortlisted for the Facebook vote. The vote closed on Sunday at midnight and it turned out to be a very close competition between Larkin and the Italian contestant, Alberto, who won a mere 128 fewer votes (Larkin got 8,094 votes compared to Alberto’s 7,966).

An overjoyed Larkin said: “I’d like to thank all the Maltese who helped make this happen. Having the opportunity to receive this prestigious prize on behalf of more than 500 million Europeans will be a truly unique experience!”

Last month the Nobel Prize Committee awarded the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union for having contribution to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe for more than six decades. The European Commission formally accepted the Nobel Prize money on behalf of the EU and indicated that it intends to allocate the prize money, about €930,000, to children affected by war and conflicts across the world.

As a result, the EU, in partnership with the European Youth Forum, launched a drawing and writing contest for 8- to 24-year olds. “Peace, Europe, Future: What does Peace in Europe mean to you?” was the question that was put to children and young people from the EU and acceding or candidate countries. Children aged eight to 12 were asked to express their answer in a drawing, and young people aged 13 to 24 in a short text of maximum 120 characters, in any of the 23 EU official languages.

Larkin’s entry reads: “My grandparents would have said ‘a dream’. My parents would have said ‘a process’. I say that it’s my everyday reality!” His was one of 5,397 entries: 1,173 drawings in group 8-12, 1,870 texts in group 13-17 and 2,354 texts in group 18-24.

Larkin will join the three other winners (who were selected by a jury) for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on 10 December. The other winners are Ana from Spain (age group 8-12), Elena from Italy (age group 13-17) and Ilona from Poland (age group 18-24). Together with the nine runners-up of the Facebook contest, the four winners will also be invited to Strasbourg for a special event around the Nobel Prize on 12 December.

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