In Memoriam: Ilkka Kanerva

The sad news of Minister Ilkka Kanerva’s passing reached the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on Thursday, 14 April. Kanerva served as the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2008.

Ilkka Kanerva at the Annual Meeting of Heads of Mission in 2015. Image: Petri Krook

Kanerva’s long-term and strong expertise in foreign policy was reflected in his handling of ministerial duties. His extensive social networks both in Finland and abroad enabled him to keep in tune with current affairs. Kanerva was at home in the international arena, and he actively strengthened Finland’s relationships during his term of office.

Among other things, Kanerva’s term as Minister of Foreign Affairs coincided with Finland’s Chairmanship of the OSCE, and he served as Chairperson-in-Office of the organisation in early 2008. Kanerva participated actively in the OSCE on many other levels during his long career, and he was later deservedly appointed President Emeritus of the organisation’s Parliamentary Assembly.

Kanerva will also be remembered for his work with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in his other roles, including in the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Defence Committee. He maintained a particular interest in the Russia-Ukraine situation until the end, and he had a natural working relationship with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in relation to this subject as well. Ilkka Kanerva was a warm, conversational and thoughtful minister who also cared a great deal for the wellbeing of the Ministry’s personnel.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs honoured Ilkka Kanerva’s memory on 19 April by flying flags at half-mast and lighting the Ministry’s Merikasarmi building in blue and white.