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More detailed programme announced for state funeral of former president Martti Ahtisaari

Government Communications Department
Publication date 3.11.2023 9.00
Press release

More than 800 invited guests are expected to attend the state funeral of former President of the Republic Martti Ahtisaari in Helsinki on Friday 10 November. In addition to state protocol, the invited guests will reflect former president Ahtisaari’s decades-long international career.

Approximately 600 guests have been invited to the event based on their position and office in line with state protocol. Groups invited based on their position and office include the following:

•    Highest state leadership and their spouses
•    Former Presidents of the Republic of Finland, Speakers of Parliament and Prime Ministers and their spouses
•    Representatives of the judicial system
•    Members of Parliament and Members of the European Parliament
•    Permanent Secretaries and State Secretaries at the ministries
•    Directors of government agencies and public bodies
•    Generals and representatives of the Defence Forces
•    Representatives of religious communities
•    Representatives of civil society organisations
•    Ambassadors of countries accredited to Finland
•    Representatives of EU agencies and organisations operating in Finland

In addition, guests have been invited to the funeral according to the wishes of Ahtisaari’s family. These approximately 300 invited guests reflect President Ahtisaari’s life and extensive life’s work both in Finland and abroad.

Programme for the funeral service

The funeral service for former president Ahtisaari at Helsinki Cathedral will begin at 13.00 and end at 14.30.

The service will be conducted by Bishop Emeritus Eero Huovinen with assistance from Bishop Teemu Laajasalo and Dora Puhakka. President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö will deliver the eulogy.
The funeral service will feature songs and performers with a special meaning for the Ahtisaari family while also honouring tradition. The service will include performances by Helsinki Cathedral Boys’ Choir Cantores Minores and the Guards Band, along with cellist Senja Rummukainen, saxophonist Jukka Perko, guitarist Jarmo Saari and the cellists from the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra.

Members of the public are also welcome to attend the service. Entrance to the Cathedral will take place from the Senate Square side of the building starting at 11.30. Guests are asked to arrive so as to be seated by 12.15 at the latest. Please note that seating is limited in the Cathedral. Members of the public are requested to leave large belongings at home and be prepared for a security check. It is not permitted to take photos or videos inside the Cathedral.

Funeral cortege from Helsinki Cathedral to Hietaniemi Cemetery

After the service, the funeral cortege will leave Helsinki Cathedral at about 14.45. The cortege will be led by the mounted police and will proceed as a motorcade from Helsinki Cathedral to Hietaniemi Cemetery, stopping outside the Presidential Palace for one minute. 

Citizens are warmly welcome to watch the cortege as it proceeds along the following route: Unioninkatu, Aleksanterinkatu (towards Meritullintori, around the Main Guard building), Pohjoisesplanadi, Unioninkatu (around the Presidential Palace), Aleksanterinkatu, Mannerheimintie, Arkadiankatu, Pohjoinen Rautatiekatu, Mechelininkatu and across Hietaniemi Cemetery from the Old Chapel gate to the New Chapel.

Bells will be rung by all churches in Helsinki for the duration of the cortege, around 45 minutes. Once the cortege approaches Hietaniemi Chapel, the bell ringing at the other churches will cease and the bells of Hietaniemi Chapel will be rung.

There will be exceptional traffic arrangements in the Helsinki city centre during the cortege. The police and the City of Helsinki will provide more detailed information about the arrangements.

Burial and memorial ceremony

Former president Ahtisaari will be laid to rest at Hietaniemi Cemetery in the same area where other presidents’ graves are also located. The burial will begin at about 15.45 and will last half an hour. The burial will be attended by former president Ahtisaari’s next of kin and the highest state leadership.

The Defence Forces are responsible for the military honours at the state funeral, which will be rendered by the Army Guard of Honour, the Defence Forces Guard of Honour and the Guards Band. Approximately 800 soldiers will take part in the military honours and other arrangements, more than one hundred of whom are cadets. Serving generals will act as the pallbearers at Helsinki Cathedral, while the pallbearers at the Hietaniemi Cemetery will be Ahtisaari’s former Aides-de-Camp. The Defence Forces will provide more detailed information about the military honours during the week of the funeral.

After the burial, a memorial ceremony for former president Ahtisaari will be held in the Government Banquet Hall for around 300 invited guests. Prime Minister Petteri Orpo will deliver words of tribute at the ceremony, which will begin at 16.30.

Before the memorial ceremony, the invited guests will have the opportunity to watch the cortege at Helsinki City Hall.

Former president Martti Ahtisaari passed away on Monday 16 October in Helsinki. He was 86 years old. Ahtisaari was President of the Republic of Finland from 1994 to 2000.

Inquiries: Tiina-Kaisa Laakso-Liukkonen, Chief Specialist, tel. +358 29 516 0220 and Aapo Riihimäki, Senior Communications Specialist, tel. +358 50 471 3020 (general inquiries about the arrangements); Military honours: Finnish Defence Forces Media Service, [email protected]