Former Prime Minister of Finland Harri Holkeri dies aged 74

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Holkeri was Prime Minister from 1987 until 1991

Harri Holkeri, former Prime Minister of Finland and renowned peacemaker, has died at the age of 74. He was known for his role as co-chairman of the multi-party talks to resolve the conflicts in Northern Ireland. His efforts helped form the Good Friday agreement. Holkeri also served as U.N. General Assembly president and as a special representative to Kosovo.

After serving as Prime Minister of Finland from 1987 until 1991 and unsuccessfully running for President in 1982 and 1988, Holkeri focused his attention outside of Finland. He co-chaired the Northern Ireland talks with former US Senator George Mitchell and retired Canadian General John de Chastelain, and honoured with a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II after the Good Friday agreement was made.

Northern Irish politician and leader of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams said "Harri Holkeri enjoyed a distinguished career as prime minister of Finland, and in several prominent UN roles, including in Kosovo. But it will be for his work here alongside George Mitchell in co-chairing the talks which led to the Good Friday Agreement for which he will be most remembered internationally."

Current Prime Minister of Finland, Jyrki Katainen said "Holkeri ... was the person who was able to build the confidence of people in difficult situations. This was one of the important personal characteristics that helped him achieve results in important international roles."

In 2003 he became the U.N special representative to Kosovo but resigned less than a year later due to ill health. He was badly injured in 2008 after he was knocked to the ground by a thief escaping from a store.

He is survived by his wife, two children and six grandchildren.


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