Ladies and gentlemen,
This morning I was in Paldiski, where I saw off our latest mission to Lebanon – troops who will be serving in UNIFIL to maintain peace alongside fellow soldiers from Ireland and Finland in IRISHFINBAT. As I was leaving, I stood before the monument there and read every name listed on it. This is something I do every time I find myself in Paldiski. I read all of the names and reflect on their sad stories.
We are used to thinking about national defence in terms of armour, ammunition and men in uniform. But we also have reserve forces, and national defence therefore stems from the values of our citizens and their willingness to defend their country; a willingness to protect what is theirs and to value being who they are. Estonia's approach is based on a conviction that security is created in order to protect human rights, basic freedoms and core human values. These values determine what our lives are like, and they are something that Estonia stands up for in a broader sense. A country can only be defended if its citizens wish as one people to defend it. Such a wish is borne of understanding – an understanding of what it means to belong and be involved. Anyone who has performed military or reserve service values that experience much more highly than those who have never come into contact with it.
A great deal of what we have today was founded on the contribution our men and women have made on the battlefield. There are 2800 men and women in Estonia who have served on foreign missions and defended their country's security. In the more than 20 years that we have been contributing to these missions, our allies and partners have come to realise that Estonia must be defended – and not only from some sense of obligation due to it being a card-carrying member of NATO. Estonia deserves to be defended because of the tangible contribution it has made to international security; because men and women of Estonia have lost their health, even lost their lives, in the name of international security. That is the contribution that these 2800 people have made.
Today in Kadriorg, President Kersti Kaljulaid presented Vice-Admiral Arnaud Coustillière, a promoter of cyber defence related co-operation, with a Class III Cross of the Eagle that he was awarded earlier this year.
Today in Kadriorg, Letters of Credence were presented to President Kersti Kaljulaid by Ambassador of the Republic of Honduras, Roberto Ochoa Madrid, who resides in Brussels; Ambassador of the Republic of Paraguay, Fernando Daniel Ojeda Cáceres, who resides in Berlin and Ambassador of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Ker Vicseth, who resides in Moscow.
President Kersti Kaljulaid met last night in Kadriorg with Paul Ryan, current Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. At the meeting, the Head of State emphasised the importance of Trans-Atlantic co-operation and thanked the US representatives for their considerable contribution to ensuring the security of the Western World.