Brussels The International Crisis Group congratulates its Chairman Emeritus, Martti Ahtisaari, for winning this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Ahtisaari served as Chairman of the International Crisis Group from 2000 to 2004, has remained associated with Crisis Group since as Chairman Emeritus, and earlier this year received in New York our Chairman's Award for his outstanding contribution to conflict prevention and resolution in Europe, Africa and Asia.

"With this year's award the Nobel has gone back to its peace and security roots, and no better choice could possibly have been made", says Crisis Group President Gareth Evans.

"Martti is a brilliant negotiator and mediator, with a tremendously effective personal style that combines charm and good humour with an iron determination [see the more detailed comment extracted below]. He has had an extraordinary track record of commitment and success -- especially in Namibia, Aceh and Kosovo -- and the recognition of his contribution to conflict prevention and resolution is both overdue and extraordinarily well deserved."

Extract From Gareth Evans, The Responsibility to Protect: Ending Mass Atrocity Crimes Once and for All(Brookings Institution Press, 2008), pp 108-9

Former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari is as good an example as one can find of someone who has successfully played all these [negotiating, mediating and facilitating] roles: as UN Special Representative managing the transition to peace in Namibia in 1989; special negotiator effectively representing the EU in assisting Russia's Victor Chernomyrdin and the U.S.'s Strobe Talbott to end the fighting in Kosovo in 1999; leader-as head of his own NGO, Crisis Management Initiative-of the peace negotiations between Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in 2005; and Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the Future Status Process for Kosovo since 2005.

Ahtisaari combines, to great effect, immense personal charm with a tough, no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is approach to conducting negotiations (and to chairing, as he did for a time, the International Crisis Group!). The Aceh peace negotiators were in no doubt that his personal role was indispensable: in the words of government envoy Farid Husain, "He exuded authority, like a father... His method was really extraordinary. He said, 'Do you want to win, or do you want peace,'" and of the GAM representative Munawarliza Zein, "There was no chit chat, there were brief greetings and then you got down to work... our respect grew. This man wasn't playing around." Strobe Talbott describes him in the 1999 Kosovo peace process as playing "Mr. Hammer to Chernomyrdin's Mr. Anvil, with Milosevic being what was beaten between the two."

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