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The President of the Republic spoke at a festive meeting dedicated to the 85th anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty

President Arnold Rüütel and Mrs. Ingrid Rüütel today attended the festive concert meeting and the following ball in the ''Vanemuine'' Concert Hall, organised by the General Staff of the Defence Forces and the Estonian Male Singing Society on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty.

In his greeting address President Rüütel said that we have often referred to the Tartu Peace Treaty in the context of the War of Independence and our present defence willingness, but less attention has been paid to the Peace Treaty as one of the greatest diplomatic achievements of the young Estonian state. ''The ability to assess complicated international situation, willingness to find solutions and stand for the interests of your country was commendable. Taking responsibility for the future of the state and the people, they created a realistic possibility for Estonia to gain its sovereignty,'' the head of state said.

The President of the Republic noted that without the Tartu Peace Treaty, Estonia had not been able to heal the wounds caused by the War of Independence and had not been recognised as an independent state. ''The western countries tried, at any cost, to maintain the common antibolshevik front. Therefore, a chance that Estonia would pull off from that bloc was not desirable. At the same time, for Estonia, the peace negotiations with Russia proceeded with difficulties. The very fact that a state that was still establishing its existence was able to achieve the signing of peace treaty, was a proof of its capability to function as an independent state,'' President Rüütel recalled.

The head of state said that the active participation in the elections for the Constitutional Assembly in April 1919 testified that, in spite of the war, the people were thinking how to organise life in their own state.

President Rüütel stated that we could only admire the scope of activities and perseverance of the state leaders of that time. ''I would like to bring only some examples: the Estonian language Tartu University was opened, the Pallas Art School and the Estonian Writers' Union started their work, the first session of the State Court of Justice was held. All those steps, including the adoption of a new constitution in the summer of 1920, were taken within a short period of time, and most of that happened when the war was still going on. The state-building value of those steps opened with the Tartu Peace Treaty that substantiated the Republic of Estonia. We had then, as we have today, every reason to be proud of the politicians, diplomats and soldiers of that time, who brought freedom and peace to our people,'' the head of state said.

The President of the Republic said that the Tartu Peace Treaty fixed the eastern border of the Republic of Estonia, which stood for only twenty years, as after that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the result of conspiracy between two great powers, the Stalinist Soviet Union and Fascist Germany, turned out to be the supreme determinant on which the fate of many sovereign nations as well as the borders depended. ''Following the restoration of Estonian independence the border negotiations with Russia were started and the border agreement was initialised in 1999. The border agreement reflects the realities, which had occurred in the world during half a century when Estonia had been occupied,'' President Rüütel added.

The head of state stressed that we have to be aware of those facts, but we have to look also into the future. ''The Estonian-Russian border is now the eastern border of the European Union. The state border in today's world has different meanings - it is the boundary of a space where national interests are protected, but it is also the boundary of a space of common interests of nations that share the same values.'' the President of the Republic said.

President Rüütel suggested that we should look a little further than our closest surroundings, both in time and space, and try to look also through a stranger's eyes. ''I wish that each of us would help, to the best of one's ability, that our nation could live in peace and that our soon 87-year old state could prosper and develop further,'' the head of state added.

''Last year we celebrated the Year of the Estonian Flag, which I proclaimed here, in Tartu, precisely a year ago. This summer, the 120-year old national flag was flying once again at Otepää, and when marching under the blue-black-white flags, at the Song Festival, at the Olympics, and at many other occasions, we certainly experienced a growing pride in our Fatherland and our independence. I now declare the Year of the Estonian Flag ended and wish us patriotic spirit also for the years to come!'' the President of the Republic said.

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, February 2, 2005

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