President Ahtisaari: The Nordic model is worth keeping

President Martti Ahtisaari believes it is important to promote the Nordic social model. “Everyone should be able to feel good as part of the society and able to develop their skills and abilities. This kind of society is a good society, and one that develops”, he said while speaking on 23 May at the Maailma Nyt! Special Forum at the University of Oulu, run by the institute, which carries his name. The forum was the main event of the 10th jubilee year of Martti Ahtisaari Institute.

President Ahtisaari said that he tirelessly highlights Nordic and Finnish values when travelling round the world, because these values resonate positively and they promote the activity and objectives of the mediation-focused Crisis Management Initiative ry (CMI), which was established by Ahtisaari 18 years ago.

“I do all I can to help us maintain and preserve a fair society. In Finland, we identify ourselves as a Nordic country, and this makes me very happy.”

Ahtisaari emphasised strongly that it is not a matter of Western values, but rather of UN-approved global values. These values must be fought for and held onto tightly, he said.

Ahtisaari has spent most of his international career working for the UN. His greatest concern is that the members of the UN Security Council are not willing to cooperate and that there is a lack of mutual trust between global leaders.

Syria’s difficult situation he puts down to selfishness. “Everyone is after something for themselves.”

Conflicts can be solved through negotiation. Ahtisaari remembers the time when he sat at the same table as the then-president of the US Bill Clinton and the Soviet Union’s Boris Yeltsin and told these country leaders to talk with each other.

Ahtisaari now serves as a Senior Advisor for CMI.

President Ahtisaari presented his opinions on topical issues and reflected on his years in Oulu during his interview with CMI’s Communications Director Elina Lehtinen. (Photo: Mikko Törmänen)


Care for others began in the changing room

At the opening of the forum, President Martti Ahtisaari reflected warmly on his youth and years of study in Oulu. He attended Oulu Lyseo and graduated from the University of Oulu as a primary school teacher in 1959.

In his youth, he was also a keen basketball player for the NMKY. “When we lost a game, I started looking out for others straightaway in the changing room. I would tell the boys that this is not decisive, that we just need to play better.”

He reminded the audience that people need each other and that we should be grateful for the support of others. This same truth holds at the global level.

Ahtisaari said he is always pleased to come to Oulu. “This trip has strengthened my belief that here in Oulu you have the capacity to develop your region in a truly admirable way. Here you are always able to overcome difficulties and keep moving forward.”

Known to be a music lover, Ahtisaari responded to an audience question about his favourite song by bursting out into a song which he currently finds very pleasant. The song, which drew applause from the audience, was For he’s a jolly good fellow, a song which the President had last sung to celebrate the 80th birthday of the UN’s former Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

During the forum, President Ahtisaari was interviewed by CMI’s Communications Director Elina Lehtinen.

The forum also featured thoughts from experts on the role of science and education in building the future, perspectives on the function and significance of education for building Finnish society, and an overview of some of the latest scientific findings.


Martti Ahtisaari Institute


Participating in the panel on the role of science in education were (from the left) Professor Kimmo Alajoutsijärvi, MP Tytti Tuppurainen, Customer Success Manager Karita Kasurinen, Academy Professor Matti Latva-aho and Professor Seppo Vainio. The event was hosted by MAI’s Deputy Director Sauli Sohlo (right). (Photo: Mikko Törmänen)


Main photo: President Martti Ahtisaari was the guest of honour at the Martti Ahtisaari Institute’s Maailma Nyt! Special Forum on 23 May. (Photo: Mikko Törmänen)


Last updated: 29.5.2018