Ahtisaari's presidential campaign in Finland began when he was still a member of the council dealing with "Bosnia. Finland's ongoing "recession caused established political figures to lose public support, and the "presidential elections were now direct, instead of being conducted through an "electoral college. In 1993, Ahtisaari accepted the candidacy of the "Social Democratic Party. His politically untarnished image was a major factor in the election, as was his vision of Finland as an active participant in international affairs. Ahtisaari narrowly won over his second round opponent, "Elisabeth Rehn of the "Swedish People's Party. During the campaign, there were rumours spread by some political opponents of Ahtisaari that he had a drinking problem or that he had knowingly accepted a double salary from the Finnish Foreign Ministry and from the United Nations while trying to negotiate an end to the Bosnian War. Ahtisaari denied both allegations and no firm proof of them has emerged. During the three-week campaign between the two rounds of presidential elections, Ahtisaari was praised by his supporters for being more compassionate towards the many unemployed Finns than Rehn, who as Defence Minister had to officially support the Aho government's strict economic policies. A minor scandal arose during a town hall-style presidential debate in "Lappeenranta, southeastern Finland, when an apparently born-again Christian woman in the audience asked Rehn what her relationship with Jesus was. Rehn replied that she had personally no proof that Jesus had been a historical person. Ahtisaari ducked a precise answer by stating that he trusted the Lutheran confession even on this issue.
His term as president began with a schism within the "Centre Party government led by prime minister "Esko Aho, who did not approve of Ahtisaari's being actively involved in foreign policy. There was also some controversy over Ahtisaari's speaking out on domestic issues such as unemployment. He travelled extensively in Finland and abroad, and was nicknamed "Matka-Mara" ("Travel-Mara," Mara being a common diminutive form of Martti). His monthly travels throughout the country and his meetings with ordinary citizens (the so-called maakuntamatkat or "provincial trips") nonetheless greatly enhanced his political popularity. Ahtisaari kept his campaign promise to visit one Finnish historical province every month during his presidency. He also donated some thousands of "Finnish marks per month to the unemployed people's organisations, and a few thousand Finnish marks to the Christian social organisation of the late lay preacher and social worker "Veikko Hursti.
Ahtisaari favoured pluralism and religious tolerance publicly. Privately, he and his wife practise their Christian faith. Contrary to some of his predecessors and his successor as the Finnish President, Ahtisaari ended all of his New Year's speeches by wishing the Finnish people God's blessing.
In January 1998 Ahtisaari was criticized by some NGOs, politicians and notable cultural figures because he awarded medals of honour to the Forest Minister of "Indonesia and to the main owner of the Indonesian RGM Company, a parent company of the April Company. The April Company was criticized by non-governmental organisations for destroying "rain forests, and Indonesia itself was criticized heavily for human right violations, especially in "East Timor. Ahtisaari's party chairman "Erkki Tuomioja said that giving medals was questionable since he feared the act may tarnish the public image of Finnish human rights policy. Students of the arts had demonstrations in Helsinki against the decision to give medals.
President Ahtisaari supported Finland's entry into the "European Union, and in a 1994 "referendum, 57 percent of Finnish voters were in favour of EU membership. He later stated that if Finland had not voted to join the EU he would have resigned. During Ahtisaari's term as president, "Boris Yeltsin and "Bill Clinton met in "Helsinki. He also negotiated alongside "Viktor Chernomyrdin with "Slobodan Milošević to end the "fighting in the "Yugoslav province of "Kosovo in 1999.
Often encountering resistance from the Finnish "parliament, which preferred a more cautious foreign policy, as well as from within his own party, Ahtisaari did not seek re-election in "2000. He wanted the Social Democrats to re-nominate him for the presidency without opposition, but two opponents signed up for the party's presidential primary. Ahtisaari was the last "strong president", since the "2000 constitution slightly reduced the president's powers. He was succeeded by the foreign minister "Tarja Halonen.
In Finnish politics, Ahtisaari has stressed how important it is for Finland "to join NATO. Ahtisaari has argued that Finland should be a full member of NATO and the EU in order "to shrug off once and for all the burden of "Finlandization". He believes politicians should file application and make Finland a member. He says that the way Finnish politicians avoid expressing their opinion is disturbing. He has noted that the so-called "NATO option" (acquiring membership when Finland is threatened) is an illusion, making an analogy to trying to obtain fire insurance when the fire has already started.
Since leaving office, Ahtisaari has held positions in various international organisations. Ahtisaari also founded the independent "Crisis Management Initiative (CMI) with the goal of developing and sustaining peace in troubled areas. On 1 December 2000, Ahtisaari was awarded the "J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding by the "Fulbright Association in recognition of his work as peacemaker in some of the world's most troubled areas.
In 2000–01, Ahtisaari and "Cyril Ramaphosa inspected "IRA weapons dumps for the "Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, as part of the "Northern Ireland peace process.
In 2005, Ahtisaari successfully led peace negotiations between the "Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and the "Indonesian government through his non-governmental organization CMI. The negotiations ended on 15 August 2005 with the signing of the Helsinki MOU on disarmament of GAM rebels, the dropping of GAM demands for an independent "Aceh, and a withdrawal of Indonesian forces.
In November 2005, "UN Secretary-General "Kofi Annan appointed Ahtisaari as Special Envoy for the "Kosovo status process which was to determine whether Kosovo, having been administered by the United Nations since 1999, should become independent or remain a province of "Serbia. In early 2006, Ahtisaari opened the UN Office of the Special Envoy for Kosovo (UNOSEK) in "Vienna, Austria, from where he conducted the Kosovo status negotiations. Those opposed to Ahtisaari's settlement proposal, which involved an internationally monitored independence for Kosovo, sought to discredit him. Allegations made by Balkan media sources of corruption and improper conduct by Ahtisaari were described by "US State Department spokesman Tom Casey as "spurious", adding that Ahtisaari's plan is the "best solution possible" and has the "full endorsement of the United States". "The New York Times suggested that this criticism of Ahtisaari on the part of the Serbs had led to the "bogging down" of the Kosovo status talks. In November 2008, Serbian media reported Pierre Mirel, director of the EU enlargement commission's western Balkans division as saying: "The EU has accepted that the deployment of "EULEX has to be approved by the "United Nations Security Council, and that the mission has to be neutral and will not be related to the Ahtisaari plan," Mirel said, following his meeting with Serbia's vice-president "Bozidar Djelic.
In July 2007, however, when the "EU, Russia and the United States agreed to find a new format for the talks, Ahtisaari announced that he regarded his mission as over. Since neither the UN nor the troika had asked him to continue mediations in the face of Russia's persistent refusal to support independence for Kosovo, he said he would nonetheless be willing to take on "a role as consultant", if requested. After a period of uncertainty and mounting tension, Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia in February 2008.
In his work, he has emphasised the importance of the United States in the peace process, stating that "There can be no peace without America."
Ahtisaari was chairman of the "Interpeace Governing Council from 2000-2009. Since 2009, Ahtisaari has been Chairman Emeritus and a Special Advisor.
Ahtisaari is board director of the "ImagineNations Group.
In 2008 Ahtisaari was awarded an honorary degree by "University College, London. That same year he received the 2007 "UNESCO "Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, for "his lifetime contribution to world peace".
In September 2009 Ahtisaari joined "The Elders, a group of independent global leaders who work together on peace and human rights issues. He travelled to the "Korean Peninsula with fellow Elders "Gro Harlem Brundtland, "Jimmy Carter and "Mary Robinson in April 2011, and to "South Sudan with Robinson and Archbishop "Desmond Tutu in July 2012.
Ahtisaari is a member of the "Mo Ibrahim Foundation's "Ibrahim Prize Committee. He is also a member of the board of the "European Council on Foreign Relations.
In August 2012, Ahtisaari opined on the sectarian violence in "Syria and was mentioned as a possible replacement as Joint Envoy there to succeed former "Secretary-General "Kofi Annan. However, Ahtisaari then told the Finnish state broadcaster "YLE that "he wished the mission would fall on someone else" which it ultimately did in the person of "Lakhdar Brahimi, a former "Algerian foreign minister and longtime U.N. diplomat.
In late 2015, Martti Ahtisaari reiterated charges he already had made in an interview with German broadcaster "Deutsche Welle in early 2013 against members of the "UN security council on the obstruction of a political solution to the escalating conflict in Syria. Ahtisaari said in an interview in September 2015 that he held talks about Syria with envoys from the five permanent members of the "UN security council in February 2012. According to Ahtisaari, "Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the "United Nations, laid out three points during a meeting with him, which included not arming the Syrian opposition, commencing talks between Syrian president "Assad and the opposition and finding "an elegant way for Assad to step aside." But the US, Britain and France subsequently ignored the proposal. Ahtisaari said in the interview: “Nothing happened because I think all these, and many others, were convinced that Assad would be thrown out of office in a few weeks so there was no need to do anything.”
On 10 October 2008 Ahtisaari was announced as that year's recipient of the "Nobel Peace Prize. The award includes a medal, a personal diploma, and 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.4 million) in prize money. Ahtisaari received the prize on 10 December 2008 at "Oslo City Hall in Norway. Ahtisaari twice worked to find a solution in "Kosovo – first in 1999 and again between 2005 and 2007. He also worked with others this year to find a peaceful solution to the problems in "Iraq, the Committee said. According to the Committee, Ahtisaari and his group, "Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), also contributed to resolving other conflicts in "Northern Ireland, "Central Asia, and the "Horn of Africa. Ahtisaari invited Prime Minister "Matti Vanhanen, Foreign Affairs Minister "Alexander Stubb and others to his Nobel event, but not President Halonen.
According to the memoir of the former secretary of the "Norwegian Nobel Committee, "Geir Lundestad, former Foreign Minister and UN ambassador "Keijo Korhonen, who was strongly against awarding the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize to Ahtisaari, wrote a letter to the committee which negatively portrayed Ahtisaari as a person and his merits in international conflict zones.
Martti Ahtisaari did not sign the letter of the Nobelists that appealed to release Chinese 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner "Liu Xiaobo.
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|"President of Finland
|Awards and achievements|
"Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
|Laureate of the "Nobel Peace Prize