CULTURE

Awaiting a decision on the Nobel Peace Prize

The hope and joy lasted just a few hours. The cause was a telex from Agence France-Presse that arrived from Oslo at 6.06 p.m. on Thursday October 3, announcing that «the five members of the Nobel Peace Prize committee have chosen a winner, but their lips are sealed as to the name.» But it mentioned rumors that possible winners were the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and former US President Jimmy Carter. The committee had to choose from a list of 156 candidates. And there was a paragraph at the end of the telex which sparked hopes: «But, the observers said, the committee could also choose to honor someone who has worked to reconcile religions, in which case Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople, and the World Council of Churches have been mentioned as possible winners.» The Nobel Peace Prize was announced yesterday morning, and the winner was indeed Carter, who undertook peace missions as soon as his term of office as president ceased. He has repeatedly played the part of mediator in thorny issues that have arisen between Greece and Turkey, or concerning Cyprus and the occupied territories, the Patriarchate at the Phanar and putting the Seminary at Halkis into operation again. He was always willing, zealous and polite, though his efforts did not always succeed. What sense does it make to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the former president of an all-powerful state whose current president is pushing for war against Iraq? As the great Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy said, «Our efforts are like those of the Trojans,» meaning they are in vain. But the title of peacemaker clings to him, and that seems to suffice.