Winston Peters and Ron Mark with Multinational Force and Observers director general Robert Stephen Beecroft. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
New Zealand’s Minister of Defence, Ron Mark, has been awarded the highest honour by the Director General of the Multinational Force and Observers, established to preserve peace between Israel and Egypt.
The Distinguished Service for Peace Award was presented to Mark at a small ceremony in Wellington by MFO ambassador Robert Stephen Beecroft.
It is the most important award conferred by the MFO and is presented in recognition of exceptional commitment to the cause of international peace and to the MFO.
Mark said he was humbled to receive the award.
“I was not expecting this honour and I’m truly touched,” he said.
Mark was one of the first New Zealanders posted to the operation as a Second Lieutenant in 1982 and this work is what the award recognises.
“I travelled to the Sinai earlier this year and was overwhelmed with how far it has come,” he said.
“To receive this award on behalf of everyone I served with at the time, and to those who are still serving 37 years later is beyond words. I’m really thankful our work made a difference.”
He said it was humbling to have helped establish a peace keeping mission that has been so successful.
Beecroft said the award had gone to very few people and was only given to those who have been exceptional.
“As you know the minister was posted to the MFO in Sinai at the beginning of the peace between Egypt and Israel.
“He was instrumental in taking the Sinai from a land of trenches and barbed wire, to what it is today. He quite literally forged our organisation and the peace in the Sinai between Egypt and Israel.
“The peace between Egypt and Israel is the single most important act of statecraft in the Middle East, at least since the Second World War.”
Beecroft said that representatives from Egypt and Israel were delighted that Mark received the award.