Finland's longest-serving MP Ilkka Kanerva (NCP) has passed away after a serious illness. The National Coalition Party announced the news in a statement on Thursday evening.
Kanerva had been a legislator since 1975, when he was first elected in the South-west Finland district. He served as a minister in three separate governments, and was granted the 'minister' honorific title in 2017. He was 74 years old.
Among other jobs, he served as Transport Minister, Minister for Employment, a minister in the Finance Ministry and finally as Foreign Minister in the second Matti Vanhanen administration.
He was forced to resign in 2008 after a magazine published text messages he had sent to a glamour model. After that scandal he took to the international stage, serving as President of the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly in 2014.
He also led numerous election observation missions in Russia, the United States and Ukraine, and was especially focused on the Ukraine crisis in his role as a Special Representative on Mediation of the OSCE.
Since 2019 he has chaired parliament's Defence Committee, but had been on sick leave for some time. He last tweeted on the matter on Wednesday, saying he remained off work but was closely following developments in foreign policy.
President Sauli Niinistö said on Twitter that Kanerva was "with us to the last, on the business of the fatherland. Thank you, Ike."
Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) also expressed condolences, saying that Kanerva had been a "highly valued and liked colleague across party lines".
National Coalition Party leader Petteri Orpo said that Kanerva would be "greatly missed".