Monday July 15, 2024

Ahtisaari´s death mourned, book of condolence opens

Published : 17 Oct 2023, 01:00

Updated : 17 Oct 2023, 01:12

  DF Report
The building of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs was illuminated on Monday to pay tributes to late President Martti Ahtisaari. Photo: Finnish Government by Fanni Uusitalo.

Finnish and international leaders on Monday expressed shock at the death of former President and Nobel laureate Martti Ahtisaari.

President Sauli Niinistö and Prime Minister Petteri Orpo in separate statements mourned the death of Ahtisaari, who was the first Finnish President elected by a direct vote.

“The death of President Martti Ahtisaari is a great loss for his family and the people of Finland,” Niinistö said, adding that Ahtisaari was a citizen of the world, a great Finn and a teacher.

“At a time of grief and loss, we also feel a deep sense of gratitude for Martti Ahtisaari’s long and impressive lifetime of service for Finland and the world,” he said.

Terming him a Finn with a big heart, Niinistö said that he believed in humanity, civilisation and virtue.

“Martti Ahtisaari was a Karelian evacuee. An eternal refugee, as he often said. His childhood experience of the evacuation journey in the cold and dark towards an unknown destination influenced his world view and actions. It did not make him bitter, but gave him an understanding of human fate and a sense of the value of peace,” said the President.

Niinistö said that Ahtisaari was a peacemaker whose career included an exceptionally long list of internationally significant achievements.

“Ahtisaari’s lifetime achievement as a peacemaker was rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008. The prize was awarded for his personal merits, but the moment was memorable for all Finns. The recognition touched the whole nation,” said the President.

“Martti Ahtisaari was the first President of the Republic of Finland elected by a direct vote. As President, he found himself in a new situation, not only as the President of the people, but also as President at a time when Finland was increasingly open to the West and the European Union,” he added.

He said that Ahtisaari greatly valued the Nordic welfare society and the way in which Finland has been built. He wanted to promote the Nordic model of gender equality to the world, reminding us that nothing will change in this world unless having girls and women educated and involved in decision-making.

“Although Ahtisaari lived abroad for much of his life, he said he was extremely happy to be born in a Nordic country,” said Niinistö.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo in his statement expressed shock and offered his deepest condolences to Ahtisaari’s family and friends, both personally and on behalf of the Government of Finland.

“We have lost a president who enjoyed widespread popularity and had a profound impact on Finland’s history. A president whose decades-long work to resolve international conflicts on several continents won him the Nobel Peace Prize,” said the Premier.

Pointing out the roles of Ahtisaari to handle the deep economic recession and Finland’s accession to the European Union, Orpo said that born in Vyborg, Martti Ahtisaari, who was a teacher by training, was Finland’s tenth president and the first to be elected by direct popular vote in 1994.

“He advocated for a collective European security system and emphasised the important role of Nordic cooperation. International highlights of Ahtisaari’s presidential career included mediating the Kosovo peace process and hosting a US-Russia presidential summit in Helsinki,” the Prime Minister said.

“Through his life’s work, President Ahtisaari shows that it is possible to be strongly Finnish and very international at the same time. We will greatly miss the president, who was a new kind of leader for many of us in an era of change,” he added.

President of the European Union Commission Ursula von der Leyen also mourned the death of former President Ahtisaari.

“Saddened by the passing of Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. Finland has lost a remarkable statesman. Europe, a visionary. And the world, a champion of peace. I express my condolences to his family and to the people of Finland,” she wrote in her twitter on Monday.

Meanwhile, a book of condolence for late President Ahtisaari will be opened at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, said the President Office in a press release.

The book will be openbed at 10:00 am and people and members of the public organisations can present their condolences in the book until Friday.

The first to sign the book of condolence is President Sauli Niinistö.

The book of condolence is open to the public in the lobby of the Presidential Palace on Mariankatu on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 10:00 am 3:00 pm and on Thursday from 10:00 am to 6:00pm.

Condolences addressed to the family members can also be submitted online at

The online book of condolence will be opened on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. The condolences will later be compiled and printed into a book, which will be given to President Ahtisaaris’s family together with the book of condolence from the Presidential Palace.

CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation has set up a memorial webpage to honour President Ahtisaari’s legacy. People can share their memories at the webpage

Former President Martti Ahtisaari passed away in Helsinki on Monday morning at 6:40 after a long illness, said a press release issued by the office of the Finnish President. He was 86.