San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

From one Nobel to another: Costa Rican president congratulates Obama

Hours after headlines spread around the world that freshman president in the United States received the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias – himself a Nobel recipient – offered his congratulations.

Despite the fact the United States is battling away on two fronts and spends the highest amount of money each year on its military, Arias said, “Sometimes, speaking of peace is an achievement in itself.

“When many voices call for a mad race for arms, when radical speeches intensify international polarization and when a leader of the greatest military power speaks of dialogue and understanding, that gives us reason to dream that this century may finally be a century of peace for the world,” he said.

Barack Obama´s selection for the Nobel Prize sparked criticism among conservatives in his home country, who said the award was premature and contrary to the principles of a peace prize.

To their comments, Arias said, “I know many will question the merit on which this has been granted, given that there has been no specific result. I believe, however, that the committee is not saying he did this or that for peace, but what he wants to do for peace is correct and the international community should support him.”  

Arias, who won the peace prize in 1987 for bridging a Central America that suffered from political, social and militaristic unrest, added that he hopes the opposition in the United States will understand Obama´s new responsibilities in the international realm, saying that a more international focus is “a responsibility that I, too, undertook 22 years ago, when I received the Nobel Prize.”

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