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Statement by President Michael D. Higgins on the death of Martti Ahtisaari

Date: Mon 16th Oct, 2023 | 17:45

“May I join with all those across the world who have expressed their sadness on learning of the death of the former President of Finland, Martti Ahtisaari.

His contribution was not confined to his beloved Finland, but was delivered to the whole world. The establishment of the Namibian state owes much to his efforts and he was to continue his efforts for peace in Kosovo, Cyprus, Aceh and of course Ireland.


Martti dedicated his life to the cause of peace. Importantly, he realised that peace is not something which can be simply wished for, rather it is something which can only be achieved through a process of engagement, negotiation and a shared commitment on each side to building a better, shared future for all those who have been in conflict. It was, importantly, something which he believed could be achieved in relation to all conflicts.


In Ireland we will remain in Martti's debt for the important role which he played as a weapons inspector at a vital time in the peace process in Northern Ireland in the years following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.


The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Martti Ahtisaari in 2008 was thoroughly deserved recognition of the vital role he played in the resolution of so many conflicts across the world. The Crisis Management Initiative which he founded will continue to ensure his legacy of seeking peace continues in the years to come.


Martti was a good friend who I had the pleasure of meeting on many occasions over a period of decades. I most recently met with Martti at Áras an Uachtaráin in 2017 and also had the privilege of welcoming him to the Áras in his capacity as a member of the Elders group in 2013.


In our conversations, Martti was always a voice of hope, one that proved that war is not the solution to conflicts and that there is always a way to find peace. He will be deeply missed.


On behalf of myself and Sabina, may I extend my deepest sympathies to Martti's family, friends and colleagues across the world.”