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WJC President Lauder: Colombia's Juan Manuel Santos deserves Nobel Peace Prize

World Jewish Congress (WJC) President Ronald S. Lauder on Friday welcomed the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to give this year's Nobel Peace Prize to Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos. "President Santos thoroughly deserves this award. He really is a peace-maker," Lauder said.

Ronald S. Lauder with President Santos in 2015Ronald S. Lauder with President Santos in 2015He declared: "President Santos has worked incredibly hard for peace, and he has proved that even the most entrenched conflicts can be resolved if all parties are willing to sit down, negotiate, and commit to peaceful solutions. He has set an example for other parts of the world.

"Reaching peace after more than five decades and a conflict that cost the lives of so many Colombians is a major achievement. President Santos can be proud of that. Trying to make peace requires a lot of courage and tenacity, and he has shown that many, many times.

“I sincerely hope that it will be possible for him to secure a permanent end to this conflict, despite the outcome of last Sunday's referendum, and I am sure he will succeed eventually.

"As the Nobel Committee rightly remarked, this award is also a tribute to the strength and sense for justice of the people of Colombian who have not given up hope of reaching a just and lasting peace. The Colombian peace process is not completed yet, but hopefully Colombians will feel encouraged by this important award for their president," the WJC president stated.

Lauder has met with Santos numerous times. In March 2016, Lauder was honored in Washington, DC by Colombia's ambassador to the United States, Juan Carlos Pinzon.

According to the Nobel Committee, Santos was selected from a list of 376 candidates, 228 individuals and 148 organizations.

“This is a great, great recognition for my country,” Santos said in an audio interview posted on the Facebook page of the Nobel Prize. “I receive this award in their name: the Colombian people who have suffered so much in this war, especially the millions of victims who have suffered in this war that we are on the verge of ending.”

The award came just days after Colombian voters narrowly rejected the peace deal that Santos helped bring about. Nobel judges conspicuously did not honor his counterpart, Rodrigo Londono, the leader of the rebels. "The referendum was not a vote for or against peace," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, insisting the peace process wasn't dead. "What the 'No' side rejected was not the desire for peace, but a specific peace agreement."
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