Today, as in the past seven years on August 20th, Estonian writers, composers, journalists and architects gather here in Kadriorg's Rose Garden. So do many other creative people. And former dissidents. As well as the members of the Supreme Soviet of the days past, and organisers of the Popular Front and the Estonian Congress, whom, today, we would call the voluntary sector.
We are here to celebrate the restoration of our independence 23 years ago. To be more specific, our contribution and the contribution of our colleagues during the period of restoring our independence that culminated on August 20th 1991 with the declaration of having restored Estonian independence.
This was the culmination of hard work. Unlike most of those who shared our fate, Estonia managed to restore its independence as a democratic state. Independence did not come unanticipated, as it did to many others. How and what to do, had, for a long time, been clear to Estonians, even if our visions for the future differed significantly.
Some of the problems that we see among those who used to share our fate derive from them finding themselves independent unexpectedly. Without having thought about what to do with their newly found freedom.
We knew. Debates had already been ongoing for many years in the Estonian Congress, the Popular Front, the IME program, and the creative unions. We knew that Estonian independence had to be restored, instead of creating a new entity. We knew that we needed our own currency. That it was necessary to shift towards the West. That we must reintegrate into Europe, the origin of our culture. All this was clear long before August 20th 1991.
"Science and talented scientists will help Estonia punch above its weight more than one would presume by the size of our population," said the President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, today at the opening of the new physics building – or Physicum – at the University of Tartu.
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has sent a letter of congratulations to Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko wishing both him and the people of his country well on the occasion of Ukrainian Independence Day.
The Dean of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University of Massachusetts, United States of America, former admiral James G. Stavridis, awarded the Fletcher School Medal of Honor to President Ilves; the award was established in 1983 as an acknowledgement to leaders who promote global peace, prosperity and justice.