(CNSNews.com) – Saying he was “surprised and deeply humbled” by the decision of the Nobel Committee to award him the 2009 Peace Prize, President Barack Obama said he will accept the award as a “call to action.”
In remarks late Friday morning in the White House Rose Garden, Obama said he did not expect to win, and he does not view the award as a recognition of his own accomplishments.
“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize – men and women who have inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.
“But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women and all Americans want to build – a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents.”
Obama noted that the peace prize has been used “as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action – a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st Century.”
Obama said his administration has worked to established “a new era of engagement,” and he said the world cannot tolerate the spread of nuclear weapons to more nations, threatening more people with the terror of a nuclear holocaust.
In a message aimed at Iran, Obama said all nations have a right to pursue peaceful nuclear power, but they also have a “responsibility to demonstrate their peaceful intentions.”
He called climate change an unacceptable threat that “could forever damage the world that we pass on to our children.” In an apparent message to China and India, he urged all nations to transform the way they use energy.
Obama briefly mentioned the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying, “I am the commander in chief of a country that is responsible for ending a war, and working in another theater to confront a ruthless adversary that directly threatens the American people and our adversaries.”
He said the two wars – and the economic crisis – are concerns he confronts every day, and he noted that those problems may not be solved by the end of his presidency.
“But I know these challenges can be met, so long as it’s recognized that they will not be met by one person or by one nation alone. This award is not simply about the efforts of my administration -- it’s about the courageous efforts of people around the world. And that’s why this award must be shared by everyone who strives for justice and dignity.”
Democrats sowing ‘peace, progress, understanding’
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine said the Nobel Committee’s decision to honor Obama shows that the U.S. has “returned to its longstanding role as a world leader.”
Kaine hailed Obama’s “conscious decision…to reinvigorate diplomacy, by talking to our friends and our rivals.” He said the president’s efforts “to bring world leaders together are helping the people of the world to face monumental challenges like nuclear arms proliferation, conflict resolution and climate change.
Kaine said Democrats will continue to work with President Obama “to keep moving America forward, as we continue in earnest to sow peace, progress and understanding around the world.”