Speech by Prime Minister Jüri Ratas at the national science awards, the F. J. Wiedemann Language Award, and sports and cultural awards ceremony

24.02.2019 | 14:38

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Honoured President of the Academy of Sciences!
Respected ministers and rectors!
Esteemed recipients!
Dear researchers, artists, athletes,
and the audience!

Last year, the culture and education awards were presented in Haapsalu. Professor Reet Kasik, the recipient of the Wiedemann Language Award, opened her acceptance speech with a beautiful and heartwarming thought that I have constantly carried in mind over the last year.

“It is a privilege to live at a time when my country celebrates its hundredth anniversary. And to be able to celebrate it in Estonian and understand the true joy that it brings.”

We use this beautiful language every day and on countless occasions. We think in Estonian. Because of that, we might not always sense the extraordinariness of it. We need a dignified year dedicated to the Estonian language, giving us the opportunity to think back on the time one hundred years ago when Estonian became the official language of Estonia. After many long and complicated years, we confirmed this with the Language Act that entered into force over 30 years ago.

Meeting people in Estonian communities abroad has proved that the beauty of the Estonian language is something to behold even if life has led us far from home. To Canada, the United States of America, Sweden, or elsewhere. A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit Petrovka, an Estonian-origin village in Kazakhstan, where I met Aliide Mägi, an 89-year-old lady. She lives in a foreign country and is far away from her roots and her homeland, but she spoke to her guests in the very special Estonian language. Moments like this bring me happiness and joy.

Dear audience!

I am honoured to stand before you in the auditorium of the Academy of Life Sciences and congratulate all the respected recipients for their exceptional contribution into Estonian art, culture, and research. I am very happy to see such a large number of people who have so much to give to Estonia as well as the entire world. The greatest achievements of Estonia are among the greatest global achievements.

On the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, we recognise that the spiritual greatness and the course of the next centuries are determined by the vitality of our language, culture, research, sport, and education. I have no doubt that if we can maintain and constantly develop the values that we already possess, the following centuries will be just as fulfilling and dignified for the Republic of Estonia.

I would like to end my speech with the words of Jaan Tõnisson, one of the creators of Estonian nationalism, on the unbreakable bond between a country and its culture:
“The Republic of Estonia will last only if it is based on strong national culture and economy. No military power, no national exaltation could preserve our country if we lack a secure national economical wealth or fail to evolve our culture.”

I congratulate and send my regards to all recipients and hope that they remain enthusiastic for the great work that they do. I wish us all a happy 101st anniversary of the Republic of Estonia!

Long live Estonia!

Government Communication Unit