Stoltenberg says in an interview with that he is happy that Ahtisaari’s wish for Finland’s NATO membership came true during his lifetime.
BRUSSELS Diplomat, peacemaker and family friend. President Martti Ahtisaari left an indelible impression on the Secretary General of NATO to Jens Stoltenberg.
– I remember him for his kindness and warmth. I also got to know him as a great statesman, political leader and diplomat, says Stoltenberg in an interview he gave to at the NATO headquarters.
Stoltenberg met Ahtisaari on several occasions when he served as Prime Minister of Norway in the 2000s.
Ahtisaari was also Stoltenberg’s father’s by Thorvald Stoltenberg close friend. Thorvald Stoltenberg was an influential Norwegian politician who, like Ahtisaari, had a long career as a diplomat and peace broker.
– I remember him sitting at my parents’ kitchen table, where he told about his incredible life as a diplomat in Indonesia, Africa and the Balkans.
Martti Ahtisaari’s childhood experiences of the lost Karelia were also present in the discussions at the Stoltenbergs’ parents’ house.
– His experiences made the winter war more real for me. He knew what it was like to live in a country like Finland or Norway as a neighbor of a big country like Russia.
Conflicts can be resolved
Stoltenberg’s and Ahtisaari’s paths also crossed at the 2008 Nobel ceremony, when Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In his award speech, Ahtisaari emphasized that wars are not inevitable and that a solution can be found to all conflicts. Ahtisaari emphasized the importance of the Middle East peace process for the international community.
– His speech was important. It contained an important message about the possibility of peace, the necessity of compromises and that differences between nations are not resolved on the battlefield but at the negotiating table, says Stoltenberg.
Ahtisaari often emphasized that the key condition for peace negotiations is the desire of the parties to resolve the conflict. According to Stoltenberg, this kind of willingness has not been seen in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
– We have not seen any indications that the president Putin would be willing to sit down at the negotiating table to find a lasting solution to the war in Ukraine.
Ahtisaari hoped for NATO membership
After his presidency, Ahtisaari ended up supporting Finland joining the defense alliance NATO. Ahtisaari hoped that Finland and Sweden would join NATO together.
– I am happy that the wish for Finland’s NATO membership came true during his lifetime, Stoltenberg says.
According to Stoltenberg, Finland’s NATO decision shows Ahtisaari’s visionaryness as a decision-maker.
– He defined the goal [jäsenyydestä] at a time when few in Finland or NATO believed it was possible.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East are tangible proof that peace is not a given.
Tensions have also increased recently in Kosovo, in the independence of which Ahtisaari played a key role.
– We need more Martti Ahtisaari spirit to find peaceful solutions. This message must be kept clear even after his passing, says Stoltenberg.