President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at Churchill's Europe Symposium in Zürich, 17 November 2015.
I am grateful and honoured to speak here today. This is, I must admit, a difficult task, a mere four days after the horrific and savage slaughter of innocents in Paris, when we all bore witness to the frailty of human life, the frailty of our open, liberal democracies in the face of barbarism, lawlessness and murder.
For nearly three quarters of a century we have repeated the mantra of Europe as project for peace. For the first part of three quarters of a century, Europe, half of Europe to be precise, thrived and grew under the protection of our trans-atlantic partner, the United States, even under the shadow of an agressive totalitarian Soviet Union. For the past quarter century, in the absence of any external existential threats, we have pursued the reintegration of Europe, to bring back to the fold those nations forced to live under communist dictatorship.
Today, we are confronted with new existential, external, and as we were reminded in Paris four days ago, internal threats.
Let us face the reality before us and around us. Europe is in the middle of a transformational crisis. A transformational crisis where we shall put to the test all that Europe has achieved, step by step since Winston Churchill's clarion call here, 69 years ago, for a United States of Europe.
This transformational crisis was foreseeable. Yet, we put off thinking about it to deal with the domestic European crisis stemming from irresponsible and mendacious profligacy on the part of some European Union members. We thought until recently that that was the greatest threat to the European project. We were wrong.
Huge income and democracy differentials between Europe and its immediate neighborhood to the South and East was a time-bomb, ticking away, a time-bomb stayed more by the restraining influence of authoritarian regimes to the South, across the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In this context we should recall the threat made by Mihhail Gorbachev at the end of the 1980s that should the Soviet Union collapse 25 million people would flood into what was then Western Europe. Today the threat is real, not from a failed communist behemoth but rather from failed states along the arc of instability ranging across Northern Africa and through the Middle East.
On 4 December President Toomas Hendrik Ilves will release a compilation called "Teenage Wasteland - Favourites 1963-1978". A donation will be made from every album purchased to the Minu Unistuste Päev (My Dream Day) charity project, which makes dreams come true for seriously and chronically ill children in treatment at Estonian hospitals.
The current refugee crisis that is testing the unity and resolve of Europe, along with combatting international terrorism and security – these were the key words at the meeting of the presidents of the Baltic states in Palanga.
"In times when religion, extremism, refugees and terrorism form a weight of negative information, schools will be required to become involved in the level-headed explaining of events and phenomena. All of these things do not happen somewhere at a safe distance, such as France or Syria. This is all Europe; these are issues and problems to be handled here, as the fate and welfare of today's students will depend on the outcomes," said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves who presented the Educational Awards for 2015 and the special Physical Sciences Award at the Office of the President.