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Martti Ahtisaari, former Finnish president and Nobel Peace Prize winner, dies at 86

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HELSINKI — Martti Ahtisaari, the previous president of Finland and world peace dealer 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 an announcement it was “deeply saddened by the lack of its founder and chair of board.”

“It’s with nice unhappiness that we have now acquired the information of the loss of life of President Martti Ahtisaari,” Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö stated in an announcement. “He was president in occasions of change, who piloted Finland into a worldwide EU period.”

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

Amongst his most notable achievements, 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 terrorist group IRA’s disarmament course of.

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

Born June 23, 1937, within the japanese city of Viipuri, which is now in Russia, Ahtisaari was a main faculty trainer earlier than becoming a member of Finland’s International Ministry in 1965. He spent some 20 years overseas, first as ambassador to Tanzania, Sambia and Somalia after which to the United Nations in New York.

After that he joined the U.N., working at its New York headquarters, earlier than heading the U.N. operation that introduced independence to Namibia in 1990. Ahtisaari had turn into deeply concerned in actions geared toward making ready Namibians for independence throughout his diplomatic tenure in Africa within the Seventies.

He was appointed because the particular consultant of Namibia by U.N. Secretary-Normal Kurt Waldheim in 1978, and is extensively credited for main the African nation to independence below his mandate as the top of U.N. peacekeeping forces there within the late Eighties.

The Namibian authorities was grateful for Ahtisaari’s work and later made him honorary citizen of the nation.

After returning to Finland in 1991, Ahtisaari labored as a overseas ministry secretary of state earlier than being elected president in 1994 for a six-year time period. He was the primary Finnish head of state to be elected straight as a substitute of by way of an electoral school.

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

His worldwide spotlight got here in 1999 when he negotiated — alongside Russia’s Balkans envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin — the tip to combating within the Yugoslav province of Kosovo. Ahtisaari additionally hosted Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Invoice Clinton at a U.S.-Russia summit in Finnish capital, Helsinki, in March 1997.

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 far more comfy in worldwide circles.

He declined to run for a second time period within the January 2000 presidential election, saying he needed 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 has centered on mediating in worldwide crises.

In Could 2017, Ahtisaari stepped down as chairman of the Disaster Administration Initiative he based in 2000 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 working himself to turn into president.

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

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


Former Related Press author Matti Huuhtanen and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark contributed to this story.

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