Obama brings out the “American” in Nobel laureate
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.”
“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.
Photo credit: Reuters/Bjorn Sigurdson/Pool (Ahtisaari poses with certificate and medal after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in December)