Oslo: Members of the Norwegian committee that
gave Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize are strongly defending
their choice against a storm of criticism that the award was
premature and a potential liability for the US president.
Asked to comment on the uproar following Friday`s
announcement, four members of the five-seat panel told The
Associated Press that they had expected the decision to
generate both surprise and criticism.
Three of them rejected the notion that Obama hadn`t
accomplished anything to deserve the award, while the fourth
declined to answer that question. A fifth member didn`t answer
calls seeking comment.
"We simply disagree that he has done nothing," committee
chairman Thorbjoern Jagland told the AP on Tuesday. "He got
the prize for what he has done."
Jagland singled out Obama`s efforts to heal the divide
between the West and the Muslim world and scale down a
Bush-era proposal for an anti-missile shield in Europe.
"All these things have contributed to, I wouldn`t say a
safer world, but a world with less tension," Jagland said by
phone from Strasbourg, where he was attending meetings in his
other role as secretary-general of the Council of Europe.
Aagot Valle, a left-wing Norwegian politician who joined
the Nobel panel this year, also dismissed suggestions that the
decision to award Obama was without merit.
"Don`t you think that comments like that patronise Obama?
Where do these people come from?" Valle said by phone from the
western coastal city of Bergen.