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Honoured President of the Republic of Estonia! Fellow Estonians! I congratulate you all in honour of the anniversary of Estonia!

In 1919, on the first anniversary of the Republic of Estonia exactly one hundred years ago, Johan Laidoner, the Commander-in-Chief of the Estonian Armed Forces, proudly reported that the enemy has been repelled from our country. Despite the ongoing battles, suffering, and grief, this first anniversary was celebrated all across Estonia. On this very square, Prime Minister Konstantin Päts declared that Estonia is free and independent – Estonia must remain free and independent!

Honoured audience!

The national defence of today depends on the willingness of Estonian citizens to contribute to maintaining our freedom and sovereignty. This concerns not only the people who have been called up to conscript service or those who have chosen a career in the Defence Forces, but also ordinary citizens – reservists and members of the Estonian Defence League. Furthermore, we also depend on thousands of volunteers who operate beside professional policemen and rescuers to maintain internal safety.

I send my sincerest regards to everyone who participated in military trainings last year, whether as a professional or upon invitation from the state, having to operate under a short-term notice and take time off from family, work, and other obligations. I see this as a sign of great willingness to defend, which stands out even on an international level.

National defence begins from each individual citizen, because every Estonian has a part in maintaining and defending our country. This was true when we won the War of Independence and is true today – we are strong only when we stand together! In order to find support from friends and allies, we must first be willing to fight for ourselves and act in a quick and decisive manner.

The efforts we have made and changes that have taken place in the world in recent years created a situation of increased presence in Estonia of our allies from NATO. Five years ago, ground troops from the United Kingdom and Belgium, air forces from Germany, and allies from many other regions were not so visibly present here.

2019 also marks the passing of 70 years from the founding of NATO and 15 years from when Estonia joined NATO as well as the European Union. During this time, our membership in NATO as well as in the EU has significantly strengthened our security while also increasing our wealth and well-being. Still, we must remember not to take anything for granted. Even though NATO stands strong, each member state must make a contribution and an effort for the alliance to remain strong and unified.

Estonia has always taken our obligations before NATO very seriously. Remaining credible, contributing 2% of the gross domestic product on defence, working our hardest on international operations, and taking the lead in cyber issues is the way we contribute to the security of our own country as well as the entire Euro-Atlantic space. Even today, over one hundred Estonian men and women serve in distant regions, at the invisible forefront of our security. Let us also think of the policemen, rescue workers, doctors, shop assistants and everyone, who have to work today, while we celebrate all over Estonia this beautiful festive day.

I wish us all a happy 101st anniversary of the Republic of Estonia! Long live Estonia!

Photos: (author: Annika Haas)

Government Communication Unit