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Koivisto praises Holkeri as bridge-builder

Former president Mauno Koivisto has credited the late Harri Holkeri with helping to break down the barriers between left and right in Finland. Meanwhile there are moves afoot to stage a state funeral for the former prime minister and UN official, who died on Sunday.

Presidentti Mauno Koivisto.
Presidentti Mauno Koivisto. Image: Yle

According to Koivisto, it is partly due to Holkeri’s efforts that all parties are now able to work together.

Holkeri served as prime minister under President Koivisto from 1987 to 1991. The two – former colleagues from the Bank of Finland – had a close working and personal relationship.

Koivisto says their cooperation was based on trust built through a long friendship.

“He was a man of principles, straight-talking and able to accept advice from others,” said Koivisto. Now 87, the SDP statesman served as president from 1982 to 1994. Like Holkeri, he bridged Finland’s transition from the Cold War era of Urho Kekkonen to the EU era ushered in by Martti Ahtisaari.

Rare state funeral proposed

Meanwhile, the Council of State has proposed that a state funeral be held for former Prime Minister Harri Holkeri. The cabinet is to confirm the plan on Thursday.

No date has been set so far.

The last state funerals were held in 2004, for former Prime Minister Kalevi Sorsa and for war hero General Adolf Ehrnrooth.

State funerals are arranged for former presidents as well as for other high-ranking state officials and others as decided by the Council of State.

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