Athens, Ga. – Delta Air Lines and the University of Georgia presented the 2008 Delta Prize for Global Understanding to Martti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland, for his efforts to secure peace in Kosovo, Namibia, Aceh, and other troubled parts of the world.
“The University of Georgia is proud to join Delta Air Lines in presenting the 2008 Delta Prize to President Ahtisaari for his efforts to secure peace in strife-torn parts of the world,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “The Delta Prize reminds us all that one person can indeed change the world; one person can improve the world. President Ahtisaari is just such a person.”
Established in 1997 with an $890,000 endowment grant from the Delta Air Lines Foundation, the Delta Prize is administered by UGA. The prize consists of a sculpture, a $10,000 cash award and a $50,000 travel allowance from Delta for a non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice.
In accepting the award, Ahtisaari said, “All conflicts can be solved.”
Ahtisaari’s achievements on behalf of global understanding are numerous. After his presidency of Finland from 1994-2000, Ahtisaari founded Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), an independent, non-governmental organization with the goal of developing and sustaining peace in troubled areas. His post-presidential activities include monitoring the decommissioning of IRA weapons in Northern Ireland; facilitating the peace process between the Government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement; chairing an independent panel on the security and safety of UN personnel in Iraq; and serving as UN Special Envoy for the Kosovo status process, UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, and Personal Envoy of the Chairman of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for Central Asia.
“Delta applauds President Ahtisaari for his work to develop peaceful solutions in so many countries throughout the world,” said Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive officer. “As a diplomat, president of Finland and in his post-presidential career he has exhibited a lifelong commitmentto public service. We are proud to be able to award him the Delta Prize to honor his leadership in the solution of global problems.”
Gary Bertsch, director of UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security, and Betty Jean Craige, director of the university’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, hosted the ceremony Thursday, April 3 at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel in Athens. The two co-founded the Delta Prize.
Ahtisaari is the ninth recipient of the Delta Prize. Previous recipients include former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela; Ted Turner, founder of Cable News Network (CNN); Ambassador Gertrude Mongella, president of the Pan-African Parliament; former president of the Czech Republic Václav Havel; former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata; former president of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev; Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa; and former president of the U.S. Jimmy Carter, his wife Rosalynn, and the Carter Center.
Nominees for the Delta Prize are solicited from around the world. Selected UGA students research the work of the nominees and prepare information for the Delta Prize board, which meets annually to choose the recipient.