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.