We here at 3QD have been fans and friends and, some of us, colleagues of Martti Ahtisaari for years. For years, we have been rooting for him in the Peace Prize runnings. And so we congratulate him today. In the NYT:
The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its 2008 peace prize on Friday to Martti Ahtisaari, the former Finnish president who has been associated over decades with peace efforts and quiet, cautious diplomacy from Asia to Africa and Europe.
To outsiders, Mr. Ahtisaari, 71, has often seemed an undemonstrative and aloof figure. But some people who worked with him praised what Gareth Evans, the head of the nongovernmental International Crisis Group in Brussels called “charm and humor” in dealing with his various negotiating partners.
He has played a central role in ending conflicts that took root in the late 20th century and threatened the early 21st century with conflagrations in many places, some of them remote and all of them complex, presenting mediators with tangles of ethnic, religious or racial passions.
Specifically, the committee mentioned his work in ending South African domination of Namibia, the former South-West Africa, from the 1970s to the late 1990s , and peace efforts in the Indonesian province of Aceh, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Central Asia, the Horn of Africa and, most recently, in Iraq.
Mr. Ahtisaari has frequently been seen as a contender for the peace prize, whose recipients last year included former American Vice President Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body. By choosing Mr. Ahtisaari, the committee seemed to have opted for a more traditional, peacemaking candidate whose selections was relatively free of political sensitivities.
In a television interview after the award was announced, Mr. Ahtisaari indicated that he might slow the pace of his travels, which, he said, had kept him away from Finland for 200 days a year. “I want to spend more time with my wife,” he said.