Martti Ahtisaari, Finland's 10th president (between 1994 and 2000) and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, passed away on Monday at the age of 86, according to a statement from the office of the Finnish president.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö announced the death of his predecessor during a live broadcast on national broadcaster YLE. "It is with great sadness that we have received the news of the death of President Martti Ahtisaari," Niinistö said.
President Martti Ahtisaari was a champion of peace, security, and conflict prevention. He brokered peace around the globe. During his Nobel lecture, he talked about how inextricable the Middle East conflict seemed because religions are often used as a weapon or instrument for prolonging conflicts. The news of his death comes at a time when the world needs visionaries like him more than ever.
Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari was successful in brokering peace in various parts of the world but never in the Middle East. The current Israeli-Palestinian crisis shows how different it is from other conflicts. Ahtisaari said, "Peace is a question of will." But what do you do when there is no will? Ahtisaari's legacy is an inspiration but also a sad mirror for society about opportunities lost for lasting conflict resolution.