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The President of the Republic at the Ceremony of Delivering the Hermann Ehlers Academy Award to Roman Herzog, Former President of the Federal Republic of Germany on March 19, 2001, in Kiel

Mr. Federal President,
Mrs. Heide Simonis, Premier of the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein,
Mr. Otto Bernhard, President of the Hermann Ehlers Academy,
Mr. Federal Minister Dr. Gerhard Stoltenberg,
Ladies and gentlemen!

It is a great honour to the Republic of Estonia and its President to speak here today of that part of the lifelong work of Roman Herzog, former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, which may be less well-known in Germany. I mean his ties with Estonia, with the Estonian legal space and the European Union's enlargement to Central Europe, where Estonia has belonged throughout its long history except for the years of the cold war that were so difficult for Europe. Let me assure you that I understand the meaning of your invitation and that I am deeply grateful for it.

I must go on to say that I add my personal delight to my esteem and appreciation. Several of you may remember that this is not my first or even second visit to Kiel. Our world is small, and it becomes especially small for the people brought together by common goals and visions. To be brief, I visited your city exactly twenty years ago, when my country was still seeking to restore its independence. At that time, it was another typical nomenclature delegation, embellished with singers, dancers, and a writer who had been brought along just because he knew German. Then, we also landed in Hamburg, and also at that time, Kiel received us as a generous host, although without snow. It was a bus, though, and not a limousine then. And our host from the municipal government was Christian Schönig - you see, this name has to be spoken in this hall also today - who asked me if he could be of any help. He may have been a little surprised by my affirmative response. A response that was quite specific. I told him I needed the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany in a pocket edition that could actually be concealed in my pocket. I was fifty-two at the time, and Christian Schönig, whom I have never met since, was much younger. But at the ornate door of the Kiel Town Hall he slipped the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany into my pocket quite surreptitiously, as if smuggling human rights and democracy to the other side of the iron curtain had been his daily pastime, if not his duty.

Dear Federal President Herzog, ladies and gentlemen, Estonia was better than Germany in anticipating the coming outbreaks, although not in every charming human detail. Ten years ago, I had the honour of inviting Dr. Roman Herzog, the Chairman of the German Constitutional Court, to Tallinn to participate in the drafting of the Estonian Constitution. In addition to the pocket edition, we needed a scholar, a judge, a politician. We needed someone with an understanding how difficult it is to restore a state; how difficult it is for us to liberate ourselves from the pseudo-science of a cynic like Voshinsky, which had dominated the law department of Tartu University for four and a half decades; and how difficult it is to balance the ideals with reality. Dr. Roman Herzog addressed the subject of guaranteeing human rights in the Estonian Constitution with special strictness and, after the horrors of totalitarianism, this became the bulkiest chapter of our Constitution. He appreciated the fact that the Supreme Court also guaranteed control over the legislative body; and in the best manner of a pedagogue, he advised us to consider whether it would not be better to have parliamentary elections in every four, not every three years, as the draft suggested. The Estonian Constitution, ladies and gentlemen, has withstood the wear of time and tribulations for ten years, and here today, I can sincerely admit: in the legal space of Estonia, in Estonian legislation, Dr. Roman Herzog has certainly made his mark.

This is how legal co-operation between Estonia and the Federal Republic of Germany and the co-operation between the two of us began. We have met several times, not only in Estonia, but also in Germany. Still, I take the liberty to present a lengthy quotation from Dr, Roman Herzog's speech ''Vom mittelalterlickem Stadtrecht zum Europarecht'' (From Mediaeval City Bylaws to the European Law), held on May 16, 1998, in Tallinn, in connection with the 759th anniversary of the Lübeck bylaws: ''It is fascinating to see how extensively and deeply the changes in your country have driven you forward ever since my first visit. Dynamic can be felt everywhere. Especially the young people seem, despite several difficulties, to be overwhelmed by the desire to take advantage of the opportunities, to take up their courage and get on in life - in short, to say ''Yes.'' to the future. The disconsolate past does not shadow their outlook to the future. I openly admit that I would like to see more of such eager and optimistic spirit also in Germany. The example of Estonia expressively proves: only the path of reforms is the path to success!

Every visitor of Tallinn can see at first glance that he is staying in an indivisible part of our common European culture, which has been shaped throughout centuries. It is obvious that this city, this country has never really left Europe, but has always been part of the spiritual union of our continent and is now restoring its lawful place in Europe.

In this sense, the political objective of the recently started accession negotiations to the European Union could be seen under the same concise common denominator by which the Danish king Erik IV Plovpenning granted the Lübeck bylaws to Reval at the time: ''Omnia iura que habent cives Lybicenses''. If we read this sentence today, though not in the technical legal sense, it can, without difficulty, also be related to Estonia's accession to the European Union: you, i.e. the citizens of Tallinn and Estonia, must in the future have the same rights as the citizens of Lübeck in the European Union.''

Dr. Herzog, ladies and gentlemen, Estonia has closely followed your vision of united Europe and drawn confidence from it. In the year 1990 you expressed the opinion that: ''The borders of 1945 can be finally demarcated only by a peace treaty covering the entire Germany.'' This far-sighted idea, though met with some criticism, was the first step towards the rapprochement with Poland, which meant the first step to secure Poland's place in the post-cold-war Europe. With your permission, I will use Poland here as a metaphor for all countries Central Europe, including Estonia. And yet those visions have been obscured, and ten years after the turn we still do not have a clear message on when the EU will open its doors. A mere third of Germany's population favours the enlargement of the European Union; this is much less than in case of the last enlargement - the reunion of Germany. This has also caused concern to you, Mr. Federal President, and two months after your visit to Tallinn, you said in your speech ''Shaping the Future of Europe'': ''let us at least begin by trying to legitimate the decisions of Europe by their quality and their significance to the citizens. For this, it is never too early.'' Estonia shares your opinion that Europe is more than the sum of its national interests. The European Union can maintain and realise its common values only by means of enlargement. Not at the price of enlargement, as it is generally thought, but specifically by means of enlargement: ''No country in the European Union will benefit more than the Federal Republic of Germany from the opening of new markets. In a couple of years, Germany's export to the candidate countries will be as important as our export to the United States of America, ''Handelsblatt'' wrote ten days ago. Therefore, it is especially important for the EU enlargement not to become an object of domestic political debates upon the next elections in Germany or in other EU countries. Europe's historic opportunity must not be sacrificed to domestic policy.

Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen! All political parties in our parliament consider Estonia to have another foreign policy priority besides the European Union, and this is the invitation to NATO. This issue has received a new impulse from the US administration. At least, this is the way we interpret the objective phrased by President Bush as ''a Europe whole and free''. We are convinced that this will shape our relations with Russia to be simple and based on the will to co-operate; just as it happened when Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary acceded to NATO. It seems to Estonia that Russia has already accepted the enlargement of the North Atlantic Alliance as a thing in itself: there are no longer any objections to Slovenia or the Slovak Republic, only Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania remain. This is the touchstone of Europe's political will, the touchstone of the enlargement of democracy as a strategy of peace. I hereby refer, as you have done, to the well-known sentence of Immanuel Kant that democracies do not go to war against one another, but I would like to add that after World War II, also Russia has started to think of Immanuel Kant as its philosopher.

Dear Federal President Herzog,

I thank you for everything you have done for Estonia's constitution and thus also for our people and human rights, and therefore also for the greater good of Europe. My Europe is far in the North, where there are no mountains and where no grapes grow. Your Europe is between the Alps and the Mittelgebirge, where it is warm and where grapes flourish. What we have in common is a stronger compulsion and a greater commitment to realise our creativity, to keep both the uniting and the dividing forces in balance - and this balance, perhaps, is the soul of Europe sought by Jacques Delors.

Thank you.


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