Global mediator Ahtisaari wins Nobel Peace Prize

Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:04am EDT
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By John Acher

OSLO (Reuters) - Finland's former president Martti Ahtisaari won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for a decades-long career of peacemaking around the world from Namibia to Kosovo.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee chose Ahtisaari to receive the $1.4 million prize from a field of 197 candidates "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts."

"These efforts have contributed to a more peaceful world and to 'fraternity between nations' in Alfred Nobel's spirit," the award committee said in its citation, adding it hoped the prize would inspire other peacemakers around the world.

Sweden's Nobel, the philanthropist and inventor of dynamite, created the prizes in his will in 1895.

Ahtisaari, 71, who was Finland's president from 1994 to 2000, has for years been a favorite to win what many deem the world's top accolade.

"No one better than he could win the Nobel Peace Prize," said former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. "He is only man I know who has made peace on three continents, Africa, Asia and Europe, and I always found him ready to answer the call to make this world a better place."

In 2005, Ahtisaari brokered peace between Indonesia and rebels in Aceh province to end 30 years of fighting. Until March last year he led Serb-Albanian talks on Kosovo as U.N. envoy.

He was architect of a European Union-backed plan for Kosovo's independence from Serbia which guaranteed Serb minority rights and was implemented bloodlessly after the wars that tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s.   Continued...

<p>Finland's former president and United Nations envoy Martti Ahtisaari adjusts his glasses during a news conference in Vienna in this file picture taken February 21, 2007. REUTERS/Herwig Prammer/Files</p>