Nobel Peace Prize laureate, President Martti Ahtisaari spoke in Washington, D.C., on March 23, stressing the importance of transatlantic cooperation and fundamental global values.
Former President of Finland, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Martti Ahtisaari delivered keynote remarks at the Martti Ahtisaari Symposium on European Security and Global Perspectives, held at the Wilson Center on Thursday, March 23.
At the age of 79, Mr. Ahtisaari still travels the world and is active in numerous non-governmental organizations. After having served as President of Finland from 1994 until 2000, Mr. Ahtisaari continued his career in international peace mediation and conflict resolution. He played a crucial role in the political process determining Kosovo's future status, leading the team that sent the settlement proposal to the United Nations Secretary-General in the end of March 2007. In October 2008, Mr. Ahtisaari was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – not only for his role in the Balkans but rather "for his efforts on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts".
In his keynote speech, Mr. Ahtisaari emphasized the significance of transatlantic cooperation and warned the audience against retreating from international collaboration. "Isolation and protectionism cannot deal with the current problems. Solutions of the past cannot solve problems of the day. Cooperation is the only way", he said.
Furthermore, he pointed out that good relationships between Europe and the U.S. do not only preserve stability on the two continents; they are fundamentally important for peace mediation operations in other parts of the world, too. "One does not solve conflicts without strategic support from the U.S. and Europe", Mr. Ahtisaari pointed out.
He then took a moment to stress the importance of the fundamental global values – democracy, human rights, gender equality, and rule of law. These values must be honored in order to build sustainable societies anywhere in the world, Mr. Ahtisaari stated.
To conclude, he asked the audience to remain hopeful about the future of Europe regardless of the present-day political turmoil. In order to overcome any future challenges, we must all preserve our faith in a united continent, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate noted, adding that he himself would never lose his faith in the importance of peace-building. "Karelians are born optimist", Mr. Ahtisaari noted, provoking a laugh from his audience.
The importance of transatlantic partnership was also highlighted in a speech given by Ms. Kirsti Kauppi, Ambassador of Finland to the United States. Ms. Kauppi called for strengthening the rules-based international system through partnerships and alliances. "Transatlantic partnership between the U.S. and Europe is the cornerstone for that. In turbulent times, the importance of the partnership is even bigger", Ambassador Kauppi concluded.