By Jari Tanner | Related Press
HELSINKI — Martti Ahtisaari, the previous president of Finland and international 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 mentioned in an announcement 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 unhappiness that now we have obtained the information of the loss of life of President Martti Ahtisaari,” Finnish President Sauli Niinistö mentioned in an announcement. “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 trainer, 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-Common Jens Stoltenberg referred to 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 long run,” mentioned Kosovar President Vjosa Osmani. “He engraved the body of our nation, and his title will stay without end within the pages of the Republic of Kosovo’s historical past.”
European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen referred to as him “a visionary” and “a champion of peace” on X, previously often known as Twitter. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair referred to as Ahtisaari “an excellent statesman and an excellent pal” and mentioned he made a “important contribution to the Northern Eire peace course of.”
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wrote on X that “we’re shedding an excellent 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 vital efforts, on a number of continents and over greater than three many years, 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, aimed toward stopping and resolving violent conflicts by way of casual dialogue and mediation.
Born June 23, 1937, within the jap city of Viipuri, which is the present-day Russian city of Vyborg, Ahtisaari was a major faculty trainer earlier than becoming a member of Finland’s International 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-Common 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 aimed 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 mentioned on X that Ahtisaari was “a pal of the Namibian liberation battle and a number one peacemaker who performed by way of the United Nations a pivotal function in midwifing the start of a brand new Namibia.”
After returning to Finland in 1991, Ahtisaari labored as a International 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 by way of an electoral faculty.
Having lived overseas for thus 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 top to preventing within the Yugoslav province of Kosovo with Serbian chief Slobodan Milosevic.
Ahtisaari later mentioned his hardest job as a negotiator and peace dealer was in the course of 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 mentioned.
“In his speech on the Nobel celebration, Ahtisaari mentioned that every one conflicts will be resolved: ‘Wars and conflicts aren’t inevitable. They’re brought on by people,’” Niinistö mentioned. “There are at all times pursuits that battle promotes. Due to this fact, those that have energy and affect also can cease them.”
As president, Ahtisaari traveled overseas extra broadly than any of his predecessors. At dwelling, he typically appeared impatient and vexed by media criticism — he was clearly way more snug in worldwide circles.
He declined to run for a second time period within the January 2000 presidential election, saying he wished to commit 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 Could 2017, Ahtisaari stepped down as chairman of the Disaster Administration Initiative to assist resolve international conflicts however mentioned 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 loss of life 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 mentioned Ahtisaari will likely be laid to relaxation following a state funeral. The date will likely 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.