Ahtisaari rightful winner of Nobel Peace Prize, says Verhagen

‘The Nobel Prize Committee made a good choice in recognising Finnish ex-President Martti Ahtisaari. His tireless efforts for peace make him a rightful winner.’ These were Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen’s comments following the Committee’s announcement of the prize from the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

Mr Verhagen emphasised the former president’s valuable and sustained efforts as a mediator in conflicts across the globe. He called particular attention to Ahtisaari’s achievements within the UN, working on the organisation’s behalf to mediate during the crisis in Indonesia’s Aceh region and ensure Namibia’s peaceful transition to independence.

‘His unceasing efforts to broker a constructive solution to the question of Kosovo’s future impressed me greatly,’ Mr Verhagen said, adding that he considers Ahtisaari an exceptionally skilled peace negotiator.

Following a diplomatic career that included stints as Ambassador of Finland, UN Special Representative for Namibia and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ahtisaari, now 71, became Finland’s president in 1994. During his presidency, he mediated in the Kosovo conflict in 1999 and became involved in further conflict resolution initiatives and peace talks after leaving office.

In 2000 the British government asked Ahtisaari to monitor the decommissioning of IRA weapons in Northern Ireland. In 2005 he mediated between the Indonesian government and the resistance movement in Aceh. Last year, at the UN’s request, he presented a plan for Kosovo’s status.