Paavo Lipponen took a tear-full farwell to the Social Democratic Party of Finland that he lead for the past twelwe years.
He was a leader with a stature that put its imprint on the Finland of his years and radiated throughout the Nordic countries. His convictions were firm and his voice was strong.
He was not alone in giving Finland the success it has had during the past decade, but without him far less is likely to have been possible.
For him, it was an article of faith that Finland should be at the core of the project of European integration.
He was openly in favour of Finlands membership in the EU years before anyone else in the party that he was eventually to lead dared to have that view. And as Prime Minister he took Finland into the Euro. He remains a strong supporter of a common European defence and security policy.
Relations with Sweden were not always easy. It’s an open secret that he is less than impressed with the leadership qualities of Swedish PM Göran Persson.
He considered Swedish policy uncertain, wavering and without vision.
Paavo Lipponen stays as President of the Riksdag in Finland, and as such an important voice in the debate.
I hope we’ll continue to hear his voice and his views.