HELSINKI — Dignitaries bid farewell to the late Martti Ahtisaari at a ceremony Friday in Finland’s capital for the previous president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who helped facilitate peace offers within the nations of lots of the mourners.
Ahtisaari died Oct. 16 on the age of 86.
Greater than 800 dignitaries and friends, together with Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani, Namibian President Hage Geingob, former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, and the previous leaders of Indonesia and its Free Aceh insurgent motion, attended the ceremony on the Helsinki Cathedral. Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and former President of Eire Mary Robinson additionally have been among the many friends.
“He was a fantastic Finn, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He put his personal stamp on each Finnish historical past and worldwide historical past,” present Finnish President Sauli Niinistö mentioned in his eulogy.
“The work President Ahtisaari did in Indonesia, Kosovo, Namibia and plenty of different locations has left its mark on the lives of quite a few folks,” he mentioned on the finish of the church ceremony, which included wreath laying and music by Finland’s most well-known classical composer, Jean Sibelius.
Ahtisaari helped attain peace accords associated to Serbia’s withdrawal from Kosovo within the late Nineties, Namibia’s bid for independence within the Nineteen Eighties, and autonomy for Aceh province in Indonesia in 2005. He was additionally concerned within the Northern Eire peace course of within the late Nineties, being tasked with monitoring the IRA’s disarmament course of.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.
He later based the Helsinki-based Disaster Administration Initiative, aimed toward stopping and resolving violent conflicts via casual dialogue and mediation. In Might 2017, Ahtisaari stepped down as chairman however mentioned he would proceed working with the group as an adviser. In 2021, it was introduced that Ahtisaari had superior Alzheimer’s illness.
After the service, troopers carried the casket to a hearse as a army band performed a funeral march outdoors the neoclassical cathedral with its distinctive tall inexperienced dome and 4 smaller domes.
The Finnish flag, a blue cross on a white background, flew at half-staff on Friday throughout the capital. Church bells rang throughout the Nordic nation in remembrance of the Finnish statesman on Friday afternoon.
In chilly climate, tons of of individuals lined up alongside the route from the cathedral via downtown Helsinki to town’s Hietaniemi cemetery the place Ahtisaari was laid to relaxation amongst different Finnish presidents. His widow, Eeva, and son, Marko, every threw a pink rose into the grave as rain fell gently. The funeral procession briefly stopped outdoors the presidential palace the place he served from 1994 till 2000.
The church service and the procession have been broadcast on nationwide tv.
Later, Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo was to host a memorial occasion for overseas friends and different dignitaries.