The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, was among the first world leaders to heap praise on Obama for winning the Nobel award.In a very short time, she said, the US leader has succeeded in shifting the tone worldwide towards dialogue. “His call for a world free of nuclear weapons is a goal we should all try to make a reality in the coming years. It will certainly encourage the US president but also help us to help him,” Merkel said. Last year’s peace laureate, Finland’s Maarti Ahtisaari, said the prize was deserving recognition of Obama’s hopes to secure peace in the Middle East. “I think now when President Obama has made it clear that he looks for a solution on a two-state basis during his first two years in office, I think this has to be seen as an encouragement,” said Finland’s ex-president. Italy’s Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said when news of the decision came through his cabinet paid tribute with a sincere ovation. “A President who wins the Noble Peace Prize will be an investment for the future as he will have to be very ecumenical towards everybody,” he said. But others have expressed surprise over the decision. The Polish laureate and Solidarity leader Lech Walesa said it was too hasty as Obama has not had time to do anything yet.