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Jimmy Carter Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Aired October 11, 2002 - 05:00   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Who will be this year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize? We are standing by live for the announcement from Oslo. The announcement is happening right now. Let's go there live right now to see who's won this year.

COSTELLO: Don't worry, it will be repeated in English. He's just about to announce the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. And if you heard the name being mentioned there, we believe it's President Jimmy Carter. Let's listen.


COSTELLO: Of course, this man's Norwegian and that's the language he is speaking. Again, it will be repeated in English soon. But the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize is President Jimmy Carter. Last year's winner was Kofi Annan and the United Nations.


COSTELLO: Many people thought this year's winner would actually be the interim leader of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai. We believe he was in the running, but it's a very secretive ballot. Nobody really knows who's nominated and you really have to have the inside track to find out who's even on the ballot and who will win. But we did hear him say President Carter and we do know it's President Jimmy Carter. Of course, he lives right here in Georgia and hopefully he's listening right now. I don't even know if he got a hint, but we suspect that he had some kind of hint.

I don't want to talk over when he begins speaking in English, so we're going to get back to this press conference now.

GUNNAR BERGE, CHAIRMAN, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE COMMITTEE: ... have decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter for his decades of untiring efforts to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights and to promote economic and social development. During his presidency, from 1977 to 1981, Carter's mediation was a vital contribution to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, in itself a great enough achievement to qualify for a Nobel Peace Prize.

At the time when the cold war between East and West was still predominant, he placed renewed emphasis on the place of human rights in international politics. Through his Carter Center, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2002, Carter has since his presidency undertaken very extensive and persevering conflict resolutions on several continents.

He has shown outstanding commitment to human rights and has served as an observer at countless elections all over the world. He has worked hard on many fronts to fight tropical diseases and to bring about growth and progress in developing countries. Carter has thus been active in several of the problem areas that have figured prominently in the over 100 years of the Peace Prize's history.

In a situation currently marked by threats of the use of power, Carter has stood by the principles that conflicts must be, as far as possible, resolved through mediation and international cooperation based on international law, respect for human rights and economic development.

Thank you.


COSTELLO: We're going to break away now.

As you heard, former President Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, has won the Nobel Peace Prize for this year. We congratulate him.

We want to get Alan Lichtman on the phone, who is a presidential scholar, now to talk more about this.

Alan, are you there?


COSTELLO: Does this surprise you?

LICHTMAN: This doesn't surprise me at all. It's very much in the tradition of Theodore Roosevelt, who, after all, was the first American president, back at the beginning of the 20th century, to win the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating international disputes and moving towards peaceful settlements. That's precisely what Jimmy Carter has done, not only in the course of his presidency, but maintaining, perhaps, the highest profile of any former president, as well, working both here...

COSTELLO: You know, some people...

LICHTMAN: ... and abroad.

COSTELLO: Some people believe he has long been overlooked for this prize. Has he?

LICHTMAN: I think so. I think this is a prize that one could have awarded, perhaps, any time in the last decade and even beyond. As you heard from the news conference, during his presidency you had the Camp David Accords, absolutely critical for peace between Egypt and Israel; ratification of the Panama Canal treaties; full diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China; negotiation of nuclear limitation treaties with the Soviet Union; new approaches to foreign affairs, towards human rights and world peace.

Obviously he had his setbacks, as well, as president, most notably the Iran hostage crisis. And then, of course, there's the long, long career as ex-president, working with Habitat for Humanity and working as a roving ambassador all over the world. It's certainly an extraordinary career, one well worthy of this prize.

COSTELLO: Yes, we're trying to get Jimmy Carter on the phone right now because we believe he is here in Georgia. So we're efforting that right now, Alan.

One more quick question for you while we wait until we get Jimmy Carter -- oh, we have to go.

OK, Alan Lichtman, thank you very much.

Alan Lichtman, who is a presidential scholar, talking about President Carter's Nobel Peace Prize winner.

And do we have Mr. Carter on the phone right now?


COSTELLO: Oh, good morning.

Good morning, Mr. Carter, President Carter.

CARTER: Well, thank you.

COSTELLO: Were you up? Were you listening?

CARTER: Well, I had a call about 4:30 from the Nobel committee and they asked me to call them back to make sure it was the right one. So I wasn't, I get up at five o'clock in the morning anyway, so I wouldn't, I didn't object this morning to get up a half an hour early.

COSTELLO: Oh, I bet not. I bet not.

So when they called you on the phone, what went through your mind?

CARTER: Well, obviously I'm very grateful to the Nobel committee for choosing me. I think they've announced very clearly that the work of the Carter Center has been a wonderful contribution to the world for the last 20 years, which involves a lot of people who, you know, are in the organization. And I don't think there's any doubt that the Nobel Prize itself, you know, encourages people to think about peace and human rights.

So I'm very grateful and honored by this.

COSTELLO: We just talked to Alan Lichtman, who is a presidential scholar. He says you have long been overlooked for this award. Do you feel that way?

CARTER: Well, you know, the only time I thought about it was in, when we negotiated the Nobel, the Camp David Accords, when Begin and Sadat won. But the committee announced later that I had not been nominated and therefore couldn't share in the prize. But that's been a long time ago and a lot of very worthy people have gotten the prize since then.

COSTELLO: Oh, and you have been very busy since then. What do you think your biggest achievement is to date?

CARTER: Well, there have been a few specific things. One was, you know, going to North Korea and other one was maybe going to Haiti. But I think the most significant has been the worker of the Carter Center the last 20 years, where we've never stopped attempting to bring peace to people, to bring freedom and democracy, to promote human rights. And although this is not very highly publicized in the United States, in the poorest countries in the world, the work of the Carter Center is known quite widely. So I think that's the main contribution.

COSTELLO: The Carter Center has done quite a lot to fight disease worldwide. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

CARTER: Well, we have programs in 65 different nations, 35 of which are in Africa. And these are the poorest and most destitute and forgotten people in the world and that's where the Carter Center does its work. And we deal with diseases that quite often have been totally forgotten in this country, things like Guinea worm, rubber blindness, trachoma, elephantitis, shistosomiasis. And we are actually in the villages and, you know, placing medicine in the mouths of people and teaching them how to correct their own health problems.

So that's what we've been doing for the last 20 years.

COSTELLO: You know, President Carter, so many people love you for the work you've been doing and admire you. You know, after your presidency, you could have just retired and enjoyed life, but instead you travel worldwide constantly.

What drives you?

CARTER: Well, you know, it's not a driven thing. When I left the White House I was a fairly young man and I realized I maybe would have 25 more years of active life. So we capitalized on the influence that I had as the former president of the greatest nation in the world and decided to fill vacuums.

We don't duplicate what other people do. We try to go and deal with problems and issues that no one else is working on. So this has put us in some very interesting places. So...

COSTELLO: The great country you mentioned, sir, is in great turmoil right now. I wanted to ask you a little bit about President Bush's policies on Iraq and what you thought about that as a man of peace.

CARTER: Well, I don't want to comment specifically on President Bush's policy. But I do think that in every way, before we go into a war of any kind, we should exhaust all other alternatives, including negotiation, mediation or, if that's not possible in the case of Iraq, then working through the United Nations. And to bypass the United Nations and to forgo the cooperation of other nations in the world in dealing with a threat from Iraq, we should certainly make sure that we have as many nations as possible supporting us.

COSTELLO: Well, you know, there is a sentiment that the United Nations can't do anything about finding any alleged weapons of mass destruction inside Iraq. It's tried before. It hasn't been successful. Do you think it can be successful this time and pass a very tough resolution?

CARTER: I think this morning I don't want to comment on that.

COSTELLO: Do you think that Saddam Hussein should be overthrown?

CARTER: I think this morning I don't want to comment on that.

COSTELLO: OK, Jimmy Cart...

CARTER: I have commented earlier and I will comment in the future. But I think this particular day I'm going to just talk about peace and human rights and the alleviation of suffering and the promotion of freedom. That's the way I feel today.

COSTELLO: OK. Got you.

Do you wish you were in the fray, though, in this, at this time in history when so much is going on in this country?

CARTER: Well, you have to remember that through the Carter Center's work I'm in the fray every day. But we're dealing with different issues that are very important to people, but quite often not, you know, very highly published.

COSTELLO: Right. But we say, you know what...

CARTER: Thanks a lot.

I've enjoyed talking to you.

COSTELLO: All right, Jimmy Carter, congratulations and thank you for joining DAYBREAK this morning.

CARTER: Good-bye.


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