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Greetings on the 100th anniversary of the Estonian Embassy in Berlin

28.06.2020

Dear President Steinmeier, my good friend Frank-Walter,

We have met in many conditions. In Tallinn, in this beautiful town, elsewhere in Germany, in other cities of Europe, in many occasions. This occasion is special. It is special, because our countries are now emerging from the virus crisis. We know it might be temporary. We know we must be vigilant.

With all my heart, I would like to wish Germany first and foremost a good and positive European Council Presidency. I hope it will not be disturbed too much, by how we have to work. I would like to wish best health to you, to your wife, Chancellor Merkel and all others.

Estonian poetess Marie Under has written: “what has been taken from us, let us remember and what remained to us”. In Estonian, “mis võeti meilt, meenutagem ja mis meile jäi”. These words echo the day where we stand in this century, but also the story of our Embassy here in the heart of Berlin celebrating its 100th anniversary.  

Berlin has so many layers. Estonian Embassy here at Hildebrandstrasse reflects many of them. It reflects the history of independent Estonia. Our House grew with Berlin. Built in 1894 during the Belle Époque when Europe lived in the understanding that everything gets better and better. Today this building, the diplomatic footprint of our country in Germany, is one of the few in this part of Berlin to remind us of those days.

If walls could talk what was said in these rooms during the golden days of Berlin in 1920s but also before 1940 when the last diplomatic note was despatched and left this building. And when our young country disappeared from the maps this building found itself close to no man’s land. Close to the Mauer, the Wall, which separated us from the free and democratic world. It was a silent witness of a divided society.

I wonder how many of its inhabitants or passer-byes new that in fact it is Estonian Embassy. Or that Estonians in exile wished to sell it but due to complex ownership it didn’t work out. We were very lucky. The house remained the property of a country that did not exist at the time. The symbol of West’s non-recognition policy, “guarded” by the British sector. The British dimension brings us to present as British boots are in Estonia as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence. Guarding NATO’s eastern border. Guarding Europe. Along with Germany. Particularly along with Germany and with another 16 allies.

But before that came unification of Germany and return of our diplomatic mission here.

It is remarkable where we have come since. We are equal partners of the European Union and NATO allies. We are also cooperating closely in the United Nations Security Council. An element, which is especially dear for me. Because this is the first time when our two countries work together for the benefit of the whole world, globally. We are contributing for the first time and your help has been very valuable for us.

I have to say that you, President Steinmeier, your symbolic gestures you have made in the process of last years of European discussions on our past, our present and our future, have mattered a lot for me. When you spoke on 1st of September in Warsaw. And I always think of you in Tallinn, on 23rd of August 2017.  I know, (President) Frank-Walter (Steinmeier), that history as we see it has also something which is true. The truth is that we suffered, but it is over now and your recognition in these circumstances is of more value, about how the picture was. By being strong because of Europe.

Germany is for Estonia an indispensable partner and ally. We have a lot to learn from each other. We are quickly moving digital country. But you have the power, the role, the market. We can do a lot together. As we stand facing your Council Presidency, many people ask me that you must be thinking of money in this context. Because today a lot of discussion about money is going on in Berlin. My answer is always no. I hope that people do not forget that yes, money is necessary but our goal is to have new Europe, renewed Europe. Estonia and Germany are closest allies in this.

Thank you for that.