March 2013, Helsinki: I had the privilege to interview Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland and Nobel Prize Laureate, for my documentary film From Windhoek to Washington. From 1977 through 1981, Ahtisaari was the United Nations Special Representative for Namibia, and eventually the UN Special Representative, directing the United Nations Transition Assistance Group which administered the first free elections in Namibia in 1989, ushering in the post-apartheid period with independence on 23 March, 1990. His work in Namibia and later in Kosovo led to his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008.
He began our interview as follows:
"If there was ever a place where we [Finland] had a special relationship with . . . it was Namibia. It is remarkable to witness, even today, that when an old teacher is having her 80 birthday party, Namibian ministers who used to be her students come to Finland to honor the person. That's the sort of warmth and depth of relationship which I don't think that we have with any other country in the world."