Saturday, 10 October 2015  -  26 Dhul-Hijjah 1436 H
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Tunisian Nobel an 'inspiration' for Arab world

A combo of recent file pictures shows (L to R) Secretary General of the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT) Houcine Abbassi, President of the Tunisian employers union (UTICA) Wided Bouchamaoui, President of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), Abdessattar Ben Moussa and Tunisian lawyer Fadhel Mahfoudh.  Tunisian mediators of the so-called National Dialogue Quartet (Tunisian General Labor Union UGTT, Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts UTICA, Tunisian Human Rights League LTDH and Tunisian Order of Lawyers) won the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize. — AFP


WORLD leaders and international organizations hailed Tunisia's national dialogue mediators as a beacon of hope for the region after they won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for helping guide the country's transition to democracy.

Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said the award recognizes the "path of consensus" chosen by the country after the 2011 revolution. "Tunisia has no other solution than dialogue despite ideological disagreements."

Houcine Abassi, the head of the UGTT trade union which is a part of the winning Quartet, said the prize is a "tribute to martyrs of a democratic Tunisia... This effort by our youth has allowed the country to turn the page on dictatorship."

British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that the mediators deserved the prize for "helping make Tunisia a beacon of hope for the region".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman said: "It is a deserved reward for work for democracy, for holding to the idea that people who have rejected a dictatorship deserve better than another dictatorship."

French President Francois Hollande said the prize "rewards the success of the democratic transition in Tunisia".

Finland's former president Martti Ahtisaari, who won the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize, said it was "an excellent decision... We all know how the Arab spring started and what the aim of it was. In the countries where the change was demanded people wanted to make it clear that they want to have the same values that are in place in democratic societies in the world."

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova described the award as "a call to support all civil society forces engaged in the fight for democracy, pluralism and rule of law. A few months after the attack on the Bardo Museum, a place of knowledge and dialogue among cultures, this message has never been more topical," she said, referring to the March attack in Tunis in which two militants shot dead 21 foreign tourists and a policeman.

 EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini tweeted that the prize "shows the way out of the crises in the region: national unity and democracy."

EU President Donald Tusk tweeted: "Congrats to National Dialogue Quartet for Nobel Prize. After visit to Tunisia on March I understand and respect (the) choice."

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, who will visit Tunisia on Tuesday to initiate talks on a free-trade area, told AFP the Nobel was "well deserved... The Tunisian road to democracy has been a source of inspiration and hope for all of us."

UN spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said: "I congratulate the Tunisian national dialogue quartet... We need civil society to help us to move peace processes forward."

Ahmed Samih, general director of Cairo-based Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Studies, said the award is "a recognition from the world that NGOs and labor syndicates in Tunisia rescued the country from a political fighting between the civil and Islamic forces."

Poland's former president and Nobel laureate Lech Walesa says the award is an expression of praise for the democracy group's activity and encouragement to further "wise activity."

Walesa, who won the prize in 1983, said he contributed to the group's activity when he visited Tunisia in 2011 and shared his experience from Poland's bloodless political reforms. Walesa led the Solidarity freedom movement in the 1980s that brought about the ouster of communism.

"I think that the Nobel Prize committee took a close look and did the right thing: it rewarded a good struggle and encouraged further wise activity," he said.

"Democratic processes are not finished there yet and such awards are important because they reassure that the right things are being done." — AFP

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