National Press Club

Nobel Laureate Says Conflicts Can Be Resolved

April 8, 2009 | By Jerry Bastarache

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"We need to untie the Middle East knot," a Nobel laureate and former president of Finland told a Press Club luncheon April 7, and said we must begin by untying the "Israeli-Hamas knot."

Martti Ahtisaari, president of Finland from 1994 to 2000 and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008, said the international community has the "right and responsibility" to settle the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

"Americans have the ability to correct their mistakes," he said, but Europeans don't always have what he described as "such vigorous debate."

He noted that the U.S. played "a central role in establishing the multinational organizations" we have today, and that it is in the common interest of the U.S. and Europe to promote global peace.

Ahtisaari said "the need is acute" to lift the ban on negotiations with Iran, and that while investments by the international community have improved conditions in Afghanistan, "still there is no solution on the horizon."

He said that what is needed there is civilian reconsruction, and even though there is no military solution, "We still cannot afford to let NATO fail in Afghanistan."

His opinion of the U.S.: "I have always defended U.S."

His Nobel Prize was awarded for conflict resolution in Northern Ireland, Indonesia, Kosovo, Indonesia, and other countries over three decades.