President Martti Ahtisaari laid to rest with state ceremonies

President Martti Ahtisaari's state funeral on 10 November 2023. Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

President Martti Ahtisaari's state funeral on 10 November 2023. Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

The funeral of President Martti Ahtisaari took place in Helsinki on St Martin’s Day on Friday 10 November.

The funeral service was held at Helsinki Cathedral. The service was conducted by Bishop Emeritus Eero Huovinen. The funeral service was attended by over 800 invited guests.

People at the heart of everything

“A great life’s work has been completed. Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari, the tenth President of the Republic of Finland, has passed into eternity”, said President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö in his commemorative speech.

In all his actions, he placed people at the heart of everything. He saw everyone as a fellow human being. And even in the most hardened individuals, he saw something good worth reaching out to. Something upon which to build a connection and peace. On which to work tirelessly for a better future”, President Niinistö said.

Martti Ahtisaari enjoyed wide international acclaim. The most visible recognition of this was the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded. “For him, peace was a verb, a matter of will. It meant full commitment to one’s work but also challenging those who had the power to influence things. The message to them was: “There are always interests that are furthered by war. Therefore, those who have power and influence can also stop them.”

“Today, the whole of Finland and President Martti Ahtisaari’s friends and colleagues around the world remember him and his life’s work with deep respect and gratitude and with the greatest of sympathy for his loved ones and friends”, President Niinistö said at the end of his speech.

Stop outside the Presidential Palace

After the service, the funeral cortege led by the mounted police left Helsinki Cathedral and proceeded as a motorcade to Hietaniemi Cemetery. The funeral cortege stopped outside the Presidential Palace for one minute, during which time the Flag of the President of the Republic of Finland was lowered to half-mast Thousands of people had gathered along the route to watch the to watch the cortege go by. Bells were rung by all churches in Helsinki for the duration of the cortege, around 45 minutes.

The burial was attended by President Ahtisaari’s next of kin and the highest state leadership. President Ahtisaari was buried at Hietaniemi Cemetery in the same area as Presidents Urho Kekkonen, Mauno Koivisto and Risto Ryti Flags were flown at half-mast throughout Finland on the day of the funeral.