Ahtisaari: EU could become peace activist

April 2, 2009 at 11:59 AM
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BRUSSELS, April 2 (UPI) -- The European Union should adopt a more activist role in peace mediation, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari said during a debate in Brussels.

Ahtisaari said the organization's ability to broker deals is something that could be leveraged in peace mediations, although professional expertise in mediation and mediation support must be developed, the EUobserver reported Thursday.

"I have been a bit surprised that the EU has been less proactive than others in the field of international peace mediation, although it is a political machinery of negotiation and mediation," Ahtisaari said during a debate in the European Parliament in Brussels. "Very often I face the argument that the EU is not impartial but I have to argue against that notion ... but I argue that the EU can be an honest broker -- I think that to be its strength."

One way for the European Union to enhance its mediation capacities would be to create an institute for peace, similar to the U.S. facility, the former president of Finland and one-time U.N. diplomat and mediator said.

"When I look at the U.S. system, they have created the U.S. Institute of Peace endeavors," Ahtisaari said. "And I sometimes wonder why we are not yet thinking about the setting up of a European Institute for Peace."

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