Thank you very much for inviting me. I always come back to Columbia, this is where the ursprung of my life is from. It is always a pleasure for me to speak at my Alma Mater. Last year, I spoke here about cyber security. Estonia is a highly digitized society, we must take cyber threats seriously. But at that time, just a year ago, we had no idea how much the world around us would change within months. In the past seven months we have seen a complete sea change in the security environment of the transatlantic area, for which we were not prepared.
There had been warning signs. For example, Russia's aggression against Georgia in 2008 was a wake-up call, but everyone hit the snooze button, chose to ignore it. A month after president Sarkozy had announced his peace plan, the EU and Russia said they were not going to do anything about it, even though the peace plan provisions on removing the Russian troops were never met. So we knew beforehand that things were shifting, but we chose not to pay attention.
In November this year we'll celebrate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall. 1989 for us indeed was the Annus Mirabilis: The Cold War ended, the Iron Curtain crumbled and we had a continent-wide euphoria. Estonia, too, along with our Baltic neighbours, Latvia and Lithuania, was soon to be liberated from the Soviet occupation that had lasted in our countries for half a century.
Looking back, we realize that a whole era ended at that time, after about half a century of status quo. In our part of the world things changed radically and permanently, we thought, for the better. 20 years ago, in August 1994, the last Soviet occupation troops left Estonia. That was the final sign that the Cold War, in at least our country, was over.
The President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, will visit Ida-Virumaa today and tomorrow where he will meet with representatives of the county and local rural municipality in Jõhvi, visit the production facilities of AS Maag Piimatööstus and meet with Jõhvi opinion leaders at the county centre along with entrepreneurs and civil servants from Ida-Viru county.
The visit of the President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, was inspired by the "changing of the guard" in Brussels – the new composition of the European Parliament was given a mandate in spring and the new members of the European Commission will assume office soon.
The President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, took a flight to Brussels today on a working visit, where he will meet with several current and future commissioners of the European Commission and discuss the future of the digital society with the Permanent Representatives Committee of the European Union and members of the European Parliament.