PRESS RELEASE DECEMBER 1, 1999
Prime Minister Speaks at Tartu University`s 80th Birthday
Speaking at the 80th anniversary of Tartu University as an institution using the Estonian language, Prime Minister Mart Laar said that the national university was born at the same time that Estonia was fighting for her independence and that many men that fought in the War of Independence, also, studied at the University.
For that reason, the Estonian nation and the national university have grown together. From the beginning, the Estonian university offered, in addition Forschung and Lehre, the third component that has become part of the function of higher education elsewhere during the last decades. Namely, serving the society.
The Prime Minister quoted the words of the university`s president, Peeter Põld, at the opening ceremony on December 1, 1919: "The task of Tartu University of the Republic of Estonia is to advance universal higher learning, especially as it applies to Estonia, and to prepare scholars for the well-being of the Estonian nation."
Mart Laar said that the university has had the same tasks during the last dozen, or so, years. "Our Alma Mater has been involved with the restoration of our statehood while being engaged in research and scholarship. We all remember the meeting on phosphorite mining at the university`s hall in 1987, and the procession that started from here a year later in observance of the heritage day," said the Prime Minister.
Speaking of the new era, Mart Laar emphasized the university`s regional activities: the periodic meetings with county elders to discuss common problems faced by the counties and the university; observance of university days in all educational institutions in Estonia, including the Russian schools, and the observance of county days at the university; regional representation; seminars and research requested by the counties; stipends by counties and cities for their students. For the first time in history, the university has branches in Pärnu, Türi and Narva.
The Prime Minister wished the Tartu University much strength and will so that the union which the country has forged with the university will sustain Estonia in the third millennium.