Norwegian leaders mourn Peres’ death

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UPDATED: Prime Minister Erna Solberg, her foreign minister Børge Brende and leaders of the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo were among those mourning the death of former Israeli President Shimon Peres during the night. The Nobel Peace Center quickly set up a memorial protocol where others could pay their respects, and Brende will be attending Peres’ funeral on Friday.

The Nobel Peace Center in Oslo set up a memorial protocol to Shimon Peres on Wednesday. Peres, who died during the night at an age of 93, won the Nobel Peace Prize 22 years ago, but failed to see peace between Israel and the Palestains attained in his lifetime. PHOTO: Nobel Peace Center

The Nobel Peace Center in Oslo set up a memorial protocol to Shimon Peres on Wednesday. Peres, who died during the night at an age of 93, won the Nobel Peace Prize 22 years ago, but failed to see peace between Israel and the Palestains attained in his lifetime. PHOTO: Nobel Peace Center

“The world has lost a great statesman,” Solberg said Wednesday morning after receiving news that Peres had died at an age of 93. She had met with Peres when he visited Norway just two years ago, and noted that he maintained his engagement and perserverance “until the very end.”

She recalled that Peres was especially keen during his last visit to Norway “to engage youth in the campaign for a peaceful future in the Middle East.” She said that youth who experience hope, recognition and are able to fully participate in society are the most important key to peace in any region. “Shimon Peres devoted himself to this vision in his last years,” she said.

Peres had many supporters in Norway and was among the trio that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Peres was foreign minister at the time and had been active in the formulation of the peace pact known as the Oslo Agreement. Norway has worked for years to help bring peace to the Middle East, and been disappointed and frustrated in the process.

Brende went on national radio and TV Wednesday to express his condolences on Peres’ death. “He stood for peace and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions that formed the foundation for the entire Oslo process, which is still what shall form the basis for the day they manage to establish a reality with a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Brende, who will be attending Peres’ funeral in Jerusalem on Friday. “It’s more important than ever that the world’s leaders be inspired by his great courage and commitment to peace.”

Former Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who recalled “many interesting conversations with the statesman Shimon Peres,” called him one of the Middle East’s most important leaders. “He put his mark on Israeli politics from the day the state of Israel was created,” Støre, now a Member of Parliament and leader of Norway’s Labour Party, said on Wedenday. “When the peace process stopped up, Peres hung on to the hopes and advocated peace and reconciliation to the end.”

Jens Stoltenberg, the former Norwegian Prime Minister who now heads NATO, wrote that Shimon Peres “lived the history of Israel and shaped the Middle East. He will be missed for his unique ability to combine vision and reality.”

Peres was being honoured at his country’s embassy in Oslo with a condolence book, while the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo also set up a memorial protocol  that would “be available to all who want a place to go to remember the Peace Prize Laureate of 1994.” A digital memorial protocol was also available on the center’s website (external link).

“The Nobel Peace Center staff share the grief of people across the world on the loss of Shimon Peres,” stated the center in a press release Wednesday. “Shimon Peres has been called ‘the hawk who turned into a dove,'” said center leader Liv Tørres. “He was controversial and contradictory, a visionary peace dove and a cynical strategist at the same time.”  Tørres quoted him as saying that “after everything I have seen in my life, I earned the right to believe that peace is attainable.”

newsinenglish.no staff