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President of the Republic of Estonia: Declaration of Christmas Peace at Turku, December 19, 2000

Dear Friends,

I bring you Christmas peace from Estonia, where it is declared from the medieval Town Council Hall, with the words of Queen Kristina, like here at Turku. Christmas peace in Estonia tells us that the times of cold war are past. To explain this, I would like to quote the words from St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians: ''It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.'' These ten words are the message of our Christmas peace this year: to set someone free is one thing, to abide in freedom is another. To abide in freedom, I participated with the Finnish President in the European Conference at Nice, and could bring home the good tidings that the European Union is ready to enlarge, and to accept also Estonia as a member in the near future. What does near future mean? To this also, I will answer with the words of St. Paul here in the Cathedral: ''Stand firm then, with your belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace'' (Ephesians 6, 12-15).

This is true for Estonians, this is true for small countries, this is true for big countries. The European Union is not heaven on earth. But it unites the hopes and the truth of small nations and big nations. It will not allow big countries to decide the fate of small countries behind their back. It heralds the end of that. This has been a long way. The Second Yalta Conference last year, where the Lithuanian President, the Latvian President and I sat in the chairs of Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill from the days of World War II, is one of the milestones on this long way. In a clear voice, three of the smaller countries of Europe spoke there of their rights, and of the rebirth of the world to defend Christian values. Let me present a photograph of the Yalta Conference to the City of Turku. Let this symbol also in the future serve our conviction that Christmas peace is just the beginning, and that abiding in peace is a goal that we all share.


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