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The President of the Republic and the Federal President of Germany participated in the consecration ceremony of St. John's Church in Tartu

The Federal President of the German Federative Republic, Dr. Horst Köhler and Mrs. Eva Luise Köhler on a visit to EstoniaUpon invitation by President Arnold Rüütel, the Federal President of the German Federative Republic, Dr. Horst Köhler and Mrs. Eva Luise Köhler, were yesterday and today on a visit to Estonia.

Yesterday evening, the President of the Republic and Mrs. Ingrid Rüütel greeted the Head of German state and his wife at Altja village in Lahemaa, where, after a brief tour, a dinner in honour of the high-ranking guests was held in a local village inn.

Today the visit continued in Tartu. Mayor of Tartu Laine Jänes greeted the guests in front of the Town Hall. In his greeting address in Tartu Town Hall, President Rüütel said that the visit of the Federal President of Germany was a proof of good relations between the two countries, but also a proof of President Köhler's personal warm attitude towards Estonia and his support to Estonia's aspirations.

Thereafter, the guests went to St. John's Church, where, at noon, the consecration of the church and a divine service with Communion took place. The Archbishop of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church Andres Põder, Archbishop emeritus Jaan Kiivit, Bishop Bärbel Wartenberg-Potter, Bishop Einar Soone, and others ministered the service.

After the divine service, the high-ranking guests arrived at the University of Tartu, where they met with the Rector of the University, Jaak Aaviksoo. Rector Aaviksoo introduced the history of the University and spoke about the University's close contacts with Germany.

The last event of the visit took place in Vanemuine Concert Hall, where a gala reception on the occasion of the reopening of St. John's Church was held. In his speech at the reception, President Rüütel said that he was very pleased that the Federal President of Germany had accepted his invitation to attend the reopening ceremony of St. John's Church, a church of great importance to Tartu and to Estonia. "Estonian-German relations have a long history, and they are multifaceted and venerable. We all know that German cultural space has significantly shaped the intellectual world outlook of Estonians," the Head of State said.

Talking about the restoration of St. John's Church, the President of the Republic said that St. John's Church, being a pearl of North-European gothic architecture, had in a way become a mirror of our conscience. "At a time when in some places around the world, the lack of parishioners has caused the closing of churches, we have an opportunity to witness the reopening of a church. This makes us to ponder over many things: what is it that makes us so stubborn; from where do we derive our courage to start all over again and again. From the very beginning, when the Athens at the River Emajõgi was built, it has been understood that if local industriousness was combined with experience coming from elsewhere, the town would become the neck of European hourglass, there would be plenty of goods, and new art, theatre performances and academic values would be created that, in there turn, could be given back to the world," the Head of Estonian state said.

President Rüütel thanked everyone who had taken the restoration of St. John's Church close to one's heart, and added: "Money alone is not enough - permanent values are created out of love."

After the reception in Vanemuine Concert Hall, the Federal President of Germany and Mrs. Köhler left Estonia.

Tomorrow evening, the President of the Republic will participate in the opening of the 25th International Hanseatic Days in Tartu Town Hall Square.

Public Relations Unit of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, June 29, 2005

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