Obama brings out the “American” in Nobel laureate

April 7, 2009

Nobel peace laureate Martti Ahtisaari is a former Finnish president but, after looking at President Barack Obama’s speech in Turkey, he said: “I nearly felt it’s good to be an American.”

Speaking after lunch at the National Press Club in Washington, the 71-year-old winner of the 2008 prize was asked on Tuesday to assess the U.S. leader’s call for peace and dialogue with Islam.NOBEL-PEACE/

“I must say that I’m proud as a transatlanticist and democrat to see that sort of speech is made,” he told reporters.

Ahtisaari, the president of Finland from 1994 to 2000, won the Nobel Peace Prize last year for helping to bring peace to places as far-flung as Kosovo, Namibia and Indonesia’s Aceh province.

Interviewed by Arshad Mohammed of Reuters on Monday, he said Hamas must be allowed into talks on ending the conflict with Israel and it was both dangerous and pointless to exclude the Palestinian militant group.

He said Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, and Fatah, which holds sway in the West Bank, “have to get their act together and form a united front” to end their power struggle.

Ahtisaari said it would be foolish to rule out peace talks under new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, recalling it was Richard Nixon who as U.S. president in 1972 broke with a U.S. policy of isolating China by visiting Beijing.

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Bjorn Sigurdson/Pool (Ahtisaari poses with certificate and medal after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in December)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Visiting and listening to get the other sides viewpoints I could understand. Talking terrible and putting down your own country and former presidents is stupid. Bowing to kings and dictators is unbelievable. He should be ashamed.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

who should be ashamed? Nixon? He probably was, but he’s no longer with us.

I’m not sure what article you just read, but no one was putting down Finland (where Ahtisaari is from), no one is mentioning former presidents (the reuters author evoked Nixon), and no one is bowing to any ‘kings’ (he is simply praising the attempt at peace & dialogue as opposed to impotent force & innefective isolationism).

Perhaps you should re-read, but I suspect it is your goal, just like many of the vaccuous posters on this particular blog, to just post nonsensical, negative rants on any article that puts your President in a good light.

Posted by sf | Report as abusive

one earn respect by being humble and sincere. One get resented by being a bully. President Obama is the only US president I ever bother to pay attention to. People like Ben is the problem to our troubled world.

Posted by siew | Report as abusive

Yes, Dick Cheney is shamelessly trying to undermine a sitting US President in a time of war.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

Of course Obama is still tops with under-graduates, Michael Jackson fans etc but in Turkey for whatever reason he encouraged the Islamist government (veiled wives, “the minarets will be our bayonets”) there which is rapidly eroding the secular constitution. The Turkish Prime Minister had previously objected to the ex-Danish Prime Minister becoming the Head of NATO because he adhered to free speech and not put the Mohammed cartoonist in prison.

This after becoming the first American president ever, to bow, bow deeply, before a foreign president or king, and amazingly the recipient of this bow, was the Islamic desert despot, the King of Saudi Arabia.

But as a European,what I found deeply offensive, was his interference in European affairs, his trying to push Turkey into the EU which Europeans do not want. The Turks are Asian Muslims, so why should they be in the EU?

Posted by Marco Borg | Report as abusive