Aatos Erkko remembered in Finland and abroad
Influential figures from Finland and the Nordic Countries remember newspaper publisher Aatos Erkko, who died on Saturday, for his diverse network of contacts across a broad span of levels of society.
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö remembers Erkko for his pertinent commentary on various issues.
“Everything that he said was underscored by the listener. He did not leave the discussion or issues standing; he always carried them forward”, Niinistö says.
Sweden’s Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Carl Bildt sees Erkko as an important figure in relations between Finland and Sweden. He was helped in this by an extensive network of influential political and economic figures.
“He always did everything in a very subtle manner; he never limited himself to issuing press releases, and he did not expect favours in return. Instead, he maintained relations out of his personal desire”, Bildt says.
Relations with Western countries such as the United States and Britain were also important to Aatos Erkko.
“He was a fascinating lunch partner, because his knowledge of the world was so vast”, recalls Matthew Kirk, former British Ambassador to Finland.
Aatos Erkko was also a significant supporter of the sciences.
“”I once received a significant donation of EUR 2.9 million from Erkko to the University of Helsinki for the establishment of a professorship. It was the largest single donation ever received by the university”, recalls Ilkka Niiniluoto, Chancellor at the University of Helsinki.
“He always voiced strong opinions about world affairs and gave a good deal of thought to issues affecting society, and to questions of justice”, Niiniluoto says.
The public at large knew Erkko as a newspaper publisher, but a select few also got to know him for his maritime interests.
“Aatos was a member of the crew of our lightship. When we came to the Market Square, he would bring a package of ham with him”, says Patu Patanen, captain of the lightship Helsinki and the steamship Hyöky.
The interest was not limited to sailing. Erkko was an influential background figure in the establishment of the Kotka Maritime Museum.
Aatos Erkko was instrumental in the establishment of personnel funds in Finland. One of the first to introduce the funds was his own company, Sanoma.
“Erkko felt that the staff of a company should get a part of the profit. He also did not accept the idea of sacking people for a small quarterly dip”, says Jouko Vanninen, the former chairman of the personnel fund of Helsingin Sanomat.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Aatos Erkko (1932-2012) (7.5.2012)