Saturday May 25, 2024

Nation bids farewell to Ahtisaari

Published : 10 Nov 2023, 23:49

  DF Report
Former president Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari was laid to rest at Hietaniemi Cemetery on Friday after a state funeral at the Lutheran Cathedral. Photo: President Office by Matti Porre.

The nation on Friday said goodbye amidst state honour and with due respect to late former president Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari.

Ahtisaari, also a Nobel laurate, was laid to rest at Hietaniemi Cemetery in the same area as Presidents Mauno Koivisto, Urho Kekkonen and Risto Ryti, following a state funeral at the Lutheran Cathedral.

Ahtisaari passed away in Helsinki on October 16 after a long illness at the age of 86.

About 800 guests including 30 international dignitaries took part in the funeral of the former President.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, President of Kosovo Vjosa Osmani, President of Namibia Hage Geingob, former president of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete and former president of Ireland and Chair of The Elders Mary Robinson were among others attended funeral.

In his commemorative speech, President Sauli Niinistö said that he (Ahtisaari) was a great Finn, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who put his own stamp on both the Finnish history and the international history.

(In all his actions, he placed people at the heart of everything. He saw everyone as a fellow human being. And even in the most hardened individuals, he saw something good worth reaching out to. Something upon which to build a connection and peace. On which to work tirelessly for a better future,” said Niinistö.

Niinistö said that in peace mediation, Ahtisaari undoubtedly started the sessions by easing the tension in his calm style.

“He listened more than he spoke, steering the conversation towards the core of the conflict. Little by little, he disarmed the parties engaged in the discussion,” said the President.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo in his speech said that former president Martti Ahtisaari left a permanent mark on the world.

“We are here today to remember perhaps the most international Finnish leader who ever lived. His decades-long work to resolve conflicts touched the lives of countless people on multiple continents,” said the Prime Minister.

People from all strata witnessed the cortege amidst rainy weather as it proceeded along Unioninkatu, Aleksanterinkatu (towards Meritullintori, around the Main Guard building), Pohjoisesplanadi, Unioninkatu (around the Presidential Palace), Aleksanterinkatu, Mannerheimintie, Arkadiankatu, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu, Mechelininkatu and across Hietaniemi Cemetery from the gate to the New Chapel along the main promenade.

Ahtisaari served as the tenth President of Finland from 1994 to 2000.

Before his presidency, he held a number of key positions in the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the United Nations.

After his presidency, Ahtisaari founded CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation, a peace brokerage organisation held in high regard, and played a prominent role in international peace talks and mediation efforts.

In recognition of his work to resolve international conflicts President Ahtisaari was award the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.

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

The government on October 18, decided that the state funeral of former President Martti Ahtisaari will take place in Helsinki on St Martin’s Day, November 10.

Thousands of citizens and communities have expressed their empathy in the books of condolence for late former President Martti Ahtisaari at the Presidential Palace and online.