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The President of the Republic on Mothers' Day, May 13, 2001

Dear mothers,
dear people of Estonia!

One more year has passed, and again, ''Ema süda'' ( ''A Mother's Heart'', a song) has brought us together from all over Estonia and all over the world so we can give thought to the most important: to love. I wish to thank you, choir boys, and musicians, and also the teachers who trained them! I want to thank Estonian children who have sent so many good wishes into my mailbox with the request that I could forward them to everybody on Mothers' Day. I only quote one, which was sent by a young man called Veiko from Saaremaa, and which runs as follows:

''Kaunimad sõnad sulle on mõeldud,
tundub, et need on kõik juba öeldud.''

(The most beautiful words are meant for you,
it seems that they have all been said already)

Thank you, Veiko. And yet on Mothers' Day, I have tried to speak not only the most beautiful words. Three years ago, I spoke of home decoration. My speech was met with the mockery of those who still think as the young communists once used to, and won the hearts of the people. Cleanliness, order, and beauty are not privileges of the rich. Home is the foundation of our love and the Estonian family. I am proud and grateful to the people in all Estonian counties for making home decoration a strong Estonian tradition again. The results will be considered on Victory Day, in Pärnu this year.

Two years ago, I spoke here of the Estonian street children, of the spreading use of drugs and of violence. All this is an escape from life which is seen as unworthy of a human being. Speaking to you, I turned to the Riigikogu, the church, the local governments and the media, convinced that Estonia can offer a home to the children who have none. The number of street children is negligible, and the Republic of Estonia already has the strength to help them. The future of our children, and the future of Estonia, begins at home. Today, I must bitterly admit that very little has still been done. We do not even know the number of homeless children. Our Government has too little love, and too little responsibility.

Las year, I spoke of the children who stood in the Baltic Chain and who today may already be mothers and fathers. I asked: what was it that took them to the Baltic Chain? Of course, it was the example of their mothers and fathers. I also asked, whether they would be able to maintain this example and hand it on to their children? Can you spare a quarter of an hour every day to tell stories at your children's bedside? Are you sowing motherly love? Do you understand that childhood is like a field in springtime? Sow books, I told you then, don't let the cold voice of technology and television replace Mother's voice in the ears of the children. In every child that is born to this world, there are seeds of love, seeds of curiosity, seeds of the knowledge of good and evil - but these seeds must be brought to sprout within a very short time, and protected from the frost, and the indifference, cruelty and selfishness creeping in its shadows.

Also today, I have a message for you.

In the Russian times, I only once succeeded in taking my family for a summer holiday at Raeküla in Pärnu County; and I visited them on weekends. Thus, I also met our landlord, the chairman of a kolkhoz, who had come home from the kolkhoz and was lighting the fire in the oven. This was at the end of the nineteen sixties, when country people were much wealthier than townsfolk. Our landlord told us that on the day before, he had been driving around, trying to persuade people to make hay. He was in difficulties, because all the tractor drivers were drunk. He spoke of the solid income of the village people, for which they could always buy vodka. He told us of several families where everybody, including the children wallowing in bed, had been drunk. He spoke for a long time, in detail, in great agony, and finally burst out crying. Do you in Tallinn ever wonder what will become of these drunken children in thirty years' time, he asked me.

One month later, the Soviet troops invaded Czechoslovakia. Today, 32 years have passed since this painful conversation, and it is my duty to answer the question of this former kolkhoz leader. In Western Europe, alcohol is treated as a narcotic substance, equal to heroin. Germany is proud that the consumption of alcohol has declined by a half within last ten years. At the same time, in the Estonian state budget, revenues from alcohol have a prominent place. Not because the Ministry of Finance likes to drink, but because the state, the ''bad master'', as we so innocently call it, is still too weak to fight the trade of illicit alcohol. And so we never mention this, and it may be news even to the Estonian press that in Western Europe, vodka is considered to be a narcotic substance. In Estonia, where we worry so much about the declining population, 2300 people annually die of injuries, accidents, and violence, 60% of those caused by alcohol; and 269 people annually die of alcohol poisoning. This is our disconsolate reply to that brave man, for whom the future of Estonia was important also in the hard Russian times. Today, Estonia is the world leader in alcohol consumption - this is valid for 97% of our male and 86% of our female population. And - what is even more horrendous - our children have inherited this vice born of the misery of communist economy - 24% of the boys and 10% of the girls under the age of 13 have already been drunk.

Dear follow countrymen, I too have received vodka as a gift. And it is impolite to decline a present. Our family uses vodka to clean the windows. One of our politicians made a brave statement that he was drinking vodka in order to increase the state revenues. Some years ago, his surname was used as a measure of alcohol. To this, I can only say that the morals of Estonian political leaders have worn unbearably thin.

Let me tell you this on Mothers' Day: no society can function only by means of the courts and the police. Throughout ages, Estonia has rested upon morality and responsibility. There has never been, nor must there ever be, an Estonia where a man can by honesty maintain his post, or be imprisoned. The idea that some posts can be abandoned only after the holder of the post has been sentenced to prison, is the reverse side of the fantasy of the communist dictatorship about the absolute infallibility of high state officials.

Dear mothers, love is the most powerful motive force of life. Estonia was born of your love, and Estonia's future relies on our love for you. Let us now add to this our vision of the future, where we would like to see healthy children and secure life; let us add strictness to our love. You are one half of the population of Estonia. Be aware of the immense power you have, and assert this power in this country, for the sake of our children. You are the keepers of our love of Estonia, and we love you, dear Estonian mothers; together, let us keep alive our hope for a purer Estonia!

May you all have a good, happy Mothers' Day dedicated to the future!


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