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President of the Republic of Ireland started her state visit to Estonia

By the invitation of President Lennart Meri, the President of the Republic of Ireland Mary McAleese and Mr Martin McAleese arrived in Estonia on state visit. The official reception ceremony was held this afternoon in front of the Presidential Palace at Kadriorg, where the President of Ireland and her spouse were greeted by President Lennart Meri and Mrs Helle Meri. The guard of honour of the Tallinn Independent Guard Battalion was formed up in front of the presidential palace and the Second Lieutenant Hannes Meimre reported to the guest. The Border Guard Orchestra played the state anthems of Ireland and Estonia. The guests were greeted by the members of Riigikogu and the Government and by high state officials. The President of Ireland is accompanied during her visit by the Minister of Culture Síle de Valera, Ambassador of Ireland to Estonia Gearoid O Broin, Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs Padraig MacKernan and Deputy Secretary of State Peter Ryan.

During the meeting of the presidents, the good relations between the countries located at the different edges of Europe and their common understanding of the European and world politics were talked about. President Meri described the development of Estonia and the plans for the accession to the European Union and NATO. For the continuation of the European Union it has to develop and accept new members, the new members will share the same concepts and values, confirmed President Meri. According to President Meri, he is glad that in addition to other fields of activities, also the academic circles and researchers of Estonia and Ireland are having co-operation.

The President of Ireland regarded the visit as an important opportunity for getting to know each other better, as Estonia is not very well known. According to Mary McAleese, for centuries as if a large window of Ireland has been open towards America, and people do not keep in touch so much with what is going on at the other edge of Europe. She added that she also remembered from the words of President Meri the fact that World War II only ended in Estonia in the 1990s, when the Russian troops were taken out. According to the head of state of Ireland, Estonia will not join Europe but rather the European Union as an organisation, as Estonia has played its role in the heritage and history of Europe through the centuries. She added that Ireland was a poor country when joining the EU in 1973, but has now become equal with the others. If the European Union were a club of the rich, the Irish were still knocking at its door.

The President of Ireland laid a wreath at the monument erected near the secondary school Tallinna Reaalkool to schoolchildren and teachers killed in the War of Independence, met with the Chairman of Riigikogu Toomas Savi and the leaders of the Tallinn City. Tonight, President Lennart Meri and Mrs Helle Meri will give a dinner in the honour of the President of Ireland and her spouse in the Brotherhood of Blackheads Building where the heads of state will make speeches during the dinner. Tomorrow the visit will continue in Tartu, where the President of Ireland will deliver an academic lecture in the Assembly Hall of the University of Tartu and will visit the Tartu Town Hall and the Estonian National Museum. The state visit of the President of Ireland will end in Tallinn on Saturday.

President Lennart Meri awarded a Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana to the President of the Republic of Ireland Mary McAleese and the 1st Class Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana to his spouse Mr Martin McAleese. The state of Estonia presented a gift of a miniature made by the sculptor Tiiu Kirsipuu of her sculpture of Wilde and Wilde that is located in Tartu, and a leather-bound Estonian epic Kalevipoeg in English. The guests brought a facsimile of the first print of Joyce's Dubliners as a present.

Press Service of the Office of the President
Kadriorg, May 24, 2001


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