Bildt calls Ahtisaari’s 2008 Nobel Peace Prize ‘well-deserved’

Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt offered his congratulations to former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari for being named the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

“Both officially as Sweden’s foreign minister as well as in capacity as a good friend, I offer Martti Ahtisaari my heartiest congratulations on this well-deserved prize,” wrote Bildt on his personal blog.

On Friday, the Norwegian Nobel Committee named Ahtisaari as the 2008 Peace Prize recipient “for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts”.

The Committee believed Ahtisaari’s efforts reflected Alfred Nobel’s wish to create “fraternity between nations”.

In addition to serving as Finland’s president from 1994 to 2000, Ahtisaari has devoted much of his career to conflict resolution.

Most recently, he worked to resolve the many issues surrounding the status of Kosovo, which wanted official independence from Serbia, despite the latter’s insistence that the region was Serbian territory.

Ahtisaari eventually discontinued his UN-sponsored mediation efforts in the Balkans before a final determination had been made regarding Kosovo’s status.

Bildt, who also has firsthand experience in the Balkans, acknowledged that Ahtisaari’s task was a difficult one but that he was nonetheless deserving of the award.

“For a long time Martti Ahtisaari has been engaged in conflict resolution on different continents,” he said.

“None of it has been easy, not everything has succeeded – that’s the nature of such things – but the sum of his various efforts is an engagement in peace and reconciliation which certainly deserves to be recognized, honoured, and rewarded.


Tanzanian-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah wins Nobel Literature Prize

Tanzanian-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah on Thursday won the Nobel Literature Prize, the Swedish Academy said.

Tanzanian-born novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah wins Nobel Literature Prize
A copy of Andulrazak Gurnah's book on the stands at the Swedish Academy on Thursday. Photo: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP

Gurnah, who grew up on the island of Zanzibar, but who arrived in England as a refugee at the end of the 1960s, was honoured “for his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.”