Over 30,000 people lined the streets of Helsinki to watch the funeral procession of President Mauno Koivisto on Thursday, according to the Helsinki Police Department.
Koivisto, born in Turku in 1923, served two terms as the President of Finland in 1982–1994, guiding the country out from under the shadow of the Cold War into the European Union. He passed away at the age of 93 at Meilahti Hospital in Helsinki on 12 May, 2017.
He is widely credited for ushering in a new era of parliamentarianism in Finland by actively reducing his own powers and enhancing those of the Finnish Parliament.
“A great Finn has departed from our midst,” President Sauli Niinistö summarised in his eulogy at the Helsinki Cathedral on Thursday. “He has left us, but remains close to us. In terms of his ideas, ways, values and principles, he is still with us.”
“President Koivisto’s uniqueness did not lie in the fact that he knew the people, but that the people knew him,” said Niinistö.
“His thoughtful, deliberative way of approaching issued brought the ordinary citizen close to the statesman, perhaps closer than to any other in Finland’s history. Mauno Koivisto’s pithy, sharply analytical and often humorous remarks remain embedded in the essence of what it is to be Finnish. They reflect a way of thinking, principles and values that still affect our actions and deeds.”
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) lauded the late statesman as a key contributor and visionary in the success story of Finland. Koivisto, he said, left an indelible imprint on the Finnish society and its members.
“As foreign policy leader, he piloted Finland with a sure hand from the Cold War into the European Union. In domestic policy, he promoted stability and development towards genuine parliamentarianism,” he highlighted.
Koivisto’s final journey took him from the Helsinki Cathedral to the Hietaniemi Cemetery, where he was laid to rest close to predecessors Risto Ryti and Urho Kekkonen.
Koivisto also served twice as the Prime Minister of Finland in 1968–1970 and 1979–1982, as the Minister of Finance, and as the Governor of the Bank of Finland. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Tellervo Koivisto, and daughter Assi Koivisto-Allonen.
His funeral was the first presidential funeral to be held in the country since that of President Kekkonen in 1986.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi