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The President of the Republic on the occasion of the Day of Restoration of Independence 20 August 2006, at Kadriorg
20.08.2006


Dear fellow countrymen,
Friends of Estonia and guests!

Today we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the restoration of Estonia’s independence. This is a day of joy, the day to recall that in a decisive moment we could cast aside many an ideological and personal animosity and restore the independence of our state in a peaceful manner. I have always attached importance to the cooperation between political forces and the preservation of a sense of responsibility in society. However, at that time we acted knowing that small nations could ill afford to err.

We have convened here, in the Kadriorg Rose Garden, also on four previous Days of Restoration of Independence. On those occasions I have always emphasized the value of historic experience for Estonia’s lasting and sustainable development, for that purpose I have instigated to conclude a public agreement, I have encouraged to resolve on the accession to the European Union, I have called for better cooperation between ourselves for the benefit of our people and state and for the sake of a more secure world.

I do the same also today. Estonia’s independence and its economic success as a Member State of the European Union and our security within the North Atlantic space is not a matter-of-course gift of the destiny. During the last 15 years many people have contributed to these achievements. Each new generation has to contribute as well.

We shall be unfair to ourselves and to history if we now and again oppose participants in the then events to each other, categorize them as leading and secondary actors, or delete them altogether from the pages of history. But it would also be wrong to embellish the past events. However, we should recall that during the restoration of independence thousands of people demonstrated genuine heroism defending not only our state borders, but also Toompea, the building of Estonian Radio or TV tower.

In those years many people joined active politics, never thinking that in future people would be labelled. They stood for the freedom of their nation and state – this feeling united and ennobled them. There have been few such moments in the history of our nation.

Recalling Estonia’s rapid development and extensive reforms during the last fifteen years, we ask now and again: “Is this the Estonia we were dreaming about?” My answer is that a vast majority of people wished a free and democratic Estonia. If a specific decision has not withstood the test of time, or a part of society feels deprived of the fruits of our development success, neither independence nor democracy is to blame.

We are pleased that Estonia stands out in a positive sense in the world. However, we should be concerned about adverse indicators, such as too many sick, undereducated and poor people. Assessing Estonia’s progress we should not forget that success cannot be measured in economic categories alone.

We should ask from ourselves whether we are successful when hundreds of people perish in traffic and other accidents. The reason for that could be ever more spreading individualism and inconsideration, or inclination to see and provoke competition in everything and everywhere. If we add to that boundless freedom and worshipping of a rakish lifestyle, consequences could be tragic. Hence, I call on everyone to respect law, fellow citizens and also your own self.

Let us cast today a look into the past and into the future. History is the nation’s common value and belittling of it will make the entire nation poorer. Remembering the past will help to understand the magnitude of changes but at the same time also to help to shape an experience-based future vision.

In our common future, it is our obligation to make use of all the opportunities that we have created in the past fifteen years, but also to seek for and implement ever more new ones. The idea and goal of our endeavours is Estonia’s success – everyone’s wellbeing.

I wish all of us strength for that. Happy anniversary!


© 2006 Office of the President l tel: + 372 631 6202 l fax: + 372 631 6250 l sekretarvpk.ee