Mon. Mar 4th, 2024

HELSINKI — Martti Ahtisaari, the previous president of Finland and world peace dealer who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for his work to resolve worldwide conflicts, died Monday. He was 86.

The muse he created for stopping and resolving violent conflicts stated in a press release it was “deeply saddened by the lack of its founder and (former) chair of the board.”

In 2021, it was introduced that Ahtisaari had superior Alzheimer’s illness.

“It’s with nice disappointment that we’ve obtained the information of the dying of President Martti Ahtisaari,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö stated in a press release. “He was president in occasions of change, who piloted Finland into a world EU period.”

Niinistö described Ahtisaari in a televised speech as “a citizen of the world, an important Finn. A instructor, diplomat and head of state. A peace negotiator and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.”

Ahtisaari helped attain peace accords associated to Serbia’s withdrawal from Kosovo within the late Nineteen Nineties, Namibia’s bid for independence within the Eighties, and autonomy for Aceh province in Indonesia in 2005. He was additionally concerned with the Northern Eire peace course of within the late Nineteen Nineties, being tasked with monitoring the IRA’s disarmament course of.

NATO Secretary-Basic Jens Stoltenberg known as Ahtisaari “a hero of peace, safety and battle prevention,” including that “I admired his peace work within the Western Balkans.”

“President Ahtisaari dedicated all his life to peace, diplomacy, the goodness of humanity, and had a unprecedented affect on our current and the longer term,” stated Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani. “He engraved the body of our nation, and his title will stay eternally within the pages of the Republic of Kosovo’s historical past.”

European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen known as him “a visionary” and “a champion of peace” on X, previously generally known as Twitter. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair known as Ahtisaari “an impressive statesman and a great pal” and stated he made a “very important contribution to the Northern Eire peace course of.”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on X that “we’re shedding an impressive diplomat.” He pointed to Ahtisaari’s mediation “in lots of conflicts, together with within the Balkans” as he attended a summit of Western Balkan leaders in Albania.

When the Norwegian Nobel Peace Committee picked Ahtisaari in October 2008, it cited him “for his necessary efforts, on a number of continents and over greater than three a long time, to resolve worldwide conflicts.”

Ahtisaari was the Nordic nation’s president for one six-year time period — from 1994 till 2000 — and later based the Helsinki-based Disaster Administration Initiative, geared toward stopping and resolving violent conflicts via casual dialogue and mediation.

Born June 23, 1937, within the japanese city of Viipuri, which is the present-day Russian city of Vyborg, Ahtisaari was a main college instructor earlier than becoming a member of Finland’s Overseas Ministry in 1965. He spent about 20 years overseas, first as ambassador to Tanzania, Zambia and Somalia after which to the United Nations in New York.

He then joined the U.N., working at its New York headquarters, and in 1978 was appointed because the particular consultant for Namibia by then-U.N. Secretary-Basic Kurt Waldheim.

He headed the U.N. peacekeeping operation within the Eighties that led to Namibia’s independence from South Africa in 1990. Ahtisaari had develop into deeply concerned in actions geared toward making ready Namibians for independence throughout his diplomatic tenure in Africa within the Nineteen Seventies.

The Namibian authorities was grateful for Ahtisaari’s work and later made him an honorary citizen of the nation. Namibian President Hage Geingob stated on X that Ahtisaari was “a pal of the Namibian liberation wrestle and a number one peacemaker who performed via the United Nations a pivotal position in midwifing the start of a brand new Namibia.”

After returning to Finland in 1991, Ahtisaari labored as a Overseas Ministry secretary of state earlier than being elected president in 1994. He was the primary Finnish head of state to be elected instantly as a substitute of via an electoral faculty.

Having lived overseas for therefore lengthy, he got here into the race as a political outsider and was seen as bringing a breath of recent air to Finnish politics. Ahtisaari was a powerful supporter of the European Union and NATO, which Finland joined in 1995 and 2023 respectively.

A spotlight got here in 1999 when he negotiated — alongside Russia’s Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin — the tip to preventing within the Yugoslav province of Kosovo with Serbian chief Slobodan Milosevic.

Ahtisaari later stated his hardest job as a negotiator and peace dealer was throughout the Kosovo talks.

Throughout his presidency, Ahtisaari hosted Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Invoice Clinton at a U.S.-Russia summit within the Finnish capital, Helsinki, in March 1997.

Ahtisaari “had an important coronary heart and he believed within the human being,” Niinistö stated.

“In his speech on the Nobel celebration, Ahtisaari stated that every one conflicts might be resolved: ‘Wars and conflicts usually are not inevitable. They’re attributable to people,’” Niinistö stated. “There are at all times pursuits that conflict promotes. Due to this fact, those that have energy and affect may cease them.”

As president, Ahtisaari traveled overseas extra extensively than any of his predecessors. At house, he typically appeared impatient and vexed by media criticism — he was clearly rather more snug in worldwide circles.

He declined to run for a second time period within the January 2000 presidential election, saying he wished to dedicate the time he would in any other case have used for campaigning to run the rotating EU presidency, which Finland held for the primary time in 1999.

After the Finnish presidency, he was supplied a number of worldwide positions, together with within the United Nations refugee company, however determined as a substitute to open his personal workplace in Helsinki which centered on mediating in worldwide crises.

In Might 2017, Ahtisaari stepped down as chairman of the Disaster Administration Initiative to assist resolve world conflicts however stated he would proceed working with the group as an adviser. He was changed by former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, who’s now operating for president.

Stubb reacted to Ahtisaari’s dying on X, saying that “maybe now greater than ever, the world wants folks like him.”

Ahtisaari is survived by his spouse Eeva and their grownup son, Marko.

CMI stated Ahtisaari shall be laid to relaxation following a state funeral. The date shall be introduced later.


Former Related Press author Matti Huuhtanen, Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this story.

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