“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.