Office of the President of the Republic of Finland Press Release 11 November 2004
We have today received word of the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat with great sorrow. I wish to express my condolences to his family and to all Palestinians.
A key era in the history of the Palestinians has come to a close with the passing of President Arafat. Since the 1960s he has been a symbol of his people's strivings for independence and a leader in its struggle for freedom. In 1996 he was elected President of the Palestinian Authority in democratic elections. Changing from a freedom fighter to a statesman is not an easy process.
Arafat was known as a man who was devoted to his work and whose energy was inexhaustible. The peace efforts over the course of the last decade brought Arafat and the Palestinians close to the goal of an independent Palestine. In recognition of this work Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize together with Prime Minister Rabin and Foreign Minister Peres in 1994.
The past few years, as we have seen, have pushed the entire region back into instability and violence and the Palestinians farther from their dream, however. All of us - including Palestinians, Israelis and the entire international community - must work so that we can soon get back to the negotiation process and achieve a lasting peace in the region.