|President of the Republic on the 82nd Anniversary of the Republic of Estonia in the ''Estonia'' Hall
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
but above all, my dear Estonian people!
Fifty years ago, the Soviet administration sentenced a young man to twenty-five years of hard labour for having deserted the Soviet army with his fellow soldiers, and starting one of the numerous guerrilla groups known in Estonia as the forest brothers. Besides his gun, he took his typewriter with him, because he was a poet. Four years before Stalin's death, he turned to the dictator with the following lines in his poem ''The Declining Star of Kremlin'':
''Sa aegsasti hingepalvust nüüd pea,
uus Nürnberg on tulekul, seda sa tea!''
(Take good time to pray for your soul,
there will be a new Nuremberg, that you must know!).
This young man was convinced that crimes against humanity must be answered for, and today this has become the conviction of the whole democratic world. Yesterday, I conferred a decoration on this young man, who is no longer young. My decision to do so roused the indignation of those who still try to defend a state that has now ceased to exist. I am sorry that the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs should accuse this young man of crimes against humanity. This is not right. And yet the criticism that befell me had its positive side. I ordered his file from the archive and found there his verses, of which I quoted two lines above. These poems, preserved so carefully by the Soviet administration, could be even more significant today than they were half a century ago. Each poem was carefully typed and carefully translated into Russian, so that the occupying powers of our country could ascertain of what the young man was guilty. The KGB, who was responsible for the investigation, the prosecution, the defence, the translation of the poems and the trial, had sentenced this young man and his wife to twenty-five years of hard labour for armed and literary resistance against the occupying powers. But the young man's faith in the irrefutability of human rights lead us to the reason why we are celebrating the 82 years of continuity of our country, and why we must struggle for both our past and our future at the same time, struggle for unequivocal moral criteria in Europe and against double standards in the whole world.
1. Threats from within
As has happened in the past, today we are again facing the challenges coming from the East, as well as those coming from the West and those springing from our own midst. But as we may conclude from the verses quoted above, Estonia is capable of more than mere survival: we are capable of overcoming powers that are much greater than our own.
In the East we see with regret the rebirth of Russian chauvinism and readiness to sacrifice basic human values in the name of power. We see politicians and warriors who are breaking their own laws and all the provisions of international law.
In the West, we see powers prepared to use harsh rhetoric against Austria - Estonia could support this, on the condition that the same moral claims would are made to the East. The use of different ethical standards for East and West gives cause for serious concern and reminds me of the fairy tale about a king walking naked. But where is the child to cry out aloud that the king is naked?
It is my concern that the charms of populism might tempt many of my fellow countrymen to resort to rhetoric, which can only weaken our chances of survival and arrest our development into a wealthy, democratic nation. I can sense Estonia's state of mind - the hard work of restoring our own state is now behind us, and it is time for carefree social pleasures. National defence, that bothersome nuisance, should be privatised, and the state as a whole should be left to sail with the flood of a liberal market economy.
Fortunately, this is only the opinion of a vociferous minority.
It is impossible to look down at the state without looking down at ourselves and our parents, and those tens of thousands that have sacrificed their lives for Estonia. Without looking down at our own suffering and sacrifices, or our accomplishments that we ought to be so proud of.
2. We have learned democracy
Ten years ago today, we elected the Estonian Congress. This was the greatest civil initiative of the Estonian people, and convinced the world, and above all, ourselves - that the creativity of a nation ripe for independence will, at the first opportunity, find the sole path to attain its independence or regain its lost independence. We were strong, because we relied on the truth. The truth is liberating. At that time, we had one single truth that led us all to one supreme goal. On the day of the election of the Estonian Congress we were still assembling, without having asked the question of what our relations with our neighbouring countries, with the foreign troops in Estonia, with the European Union, with the pre-war constitutional order, or with the international agreements or duties should be like. All these questions served a single goal: how to restore constitutional power in Estonia as quickly as possible and with as few sacrifices as possible. We had already incurred losses for the restoration of the Republic of Estonia, more than we had in the War of Independence: there were those who died in the camps, those who were lost in the forests, and those left without family, love and education as a result of deportations. We accomplished our goal, and we restored the Republic of Estonia without bloodshed - the world was amazed, but we were not surprised in the slightest.
And yet today it is time to ask: why is our pace decreasing? The wrong answer is: ten years ago, it was easy to concentrate on a single goal that united all of us. Now, the Republic of Estonia has dozens of different duties, and we cannot and need not approach them all as a single man.
This is ostensibly right, but it is wrong in substance.
I have said this before, and will repeat now once more: a nation can enact the right to self-determination only once, and a state can be founded only once, once and for all. And yet in today's harsh world, it should be added on the Anniversary of the Republic that the state is permanent, that it can only be a roof above our heads, if we bring it up in the way an exacting but loving mother would, to hold its head high, to work and to care for the home. In every parliamentary act, in the application of any law, we can still see the central task from the times of the Estonian Congress: to secure the lasting existence of the state and the people.
I emphasise this so strongly because I have been asked if there is a parliamentary crisis in Estonia? And I answer, with all confidence that no, there is not. It is true that we are losing time just now, when we should be physically feeling the weight of time on our shoulders. The reasons for the loss of time are insufficient knowledge of the Constitution and our insufficient knowledge of Estonian history. The reason is in the clash of attitudes, which in a most unfortunate manner has reached the plenary session of the Riigikogu in the great hall. There, the present confrontation acquires a new dimension: this is no longer a normal parliamentary dispute. The current confrontation could probably have been avoided if the participants in these political disputes, which will be held - I hope - before the matter reaches the agenda for a sitting of the Riigikogu, had taken more time to read the Constitution and study Estonian history. This is, in fact, a dispute concerning constitutional law, a dispute over state doctrine. The answers are to be found in the Constitution. But if the Constitution is not read, then crisis might well be on the way. And now, I get back to the threats coming neither from East nor West, but from within our midst. The people expect clear and well-reasoned decisions, even if they are distressing. Liberal and broad-minded thinking does not necessarily mean a chaos. We still have to learn to differentiate between the important and the most important. The people yearn for security, both internal and external. It is our goal to accede to the European Union and NATO before it is too late. And we should keep our eyes fixed on this goal every day, which also means that we should work every day to attain this goal. The Soviet patterns of thought are still alive in Estonia, and it is a paradox that they have found an ally in local pseudo-European attitudes. Where is the Estonian pattern of thought that has been called analytical and sceptical? This is what we need, and this is what Europe expects of us. Europe is not expecting Estonia to think in the German, French, or Belgian way, just in our own, ingrained, Estonian way, because the strength of Europe is in the co-effect of different patterns of thought. Europe needs Pearu and Andres, Paul Ariste, Jaan Einasto and Endel Lippmaa, not Estonian Coca-Cola bottled in Keila. Estonian creativity, and also Estonian political creativity that has hitherto been so modest, can only and develop in Estonia. It needs the encouragement of more self-aware citizens, as in the information era common citizens find themselves to an ever greater extent in the same informational space as the government and they can participate in the process of decision-making. It is precisely this which is the charm of democracy and also the problem with democracy - the joy of participation, the dissolution of responsibility. The Estonian state can function efficiently, if it is able to distil the common interests of society from the tangle of the different interests of specific social groups and implement them for the greater good of society as a whole by protecting them with its power. The common interests are represented by the Parliament, and implemented by the Government. When the work of this tandem is inefficient, the reason can only lie - as it seems to me - in the shortage of information. This is why I hope so much of the memorandum of co-operation between the associations of citizens and parliamentary parties, signed in late autumn 1999. This channel of information has at its one end the associations of citizens, who experience the fruitfulness or fruitlessness of the workings of the state and the government in their everyday lives. At the other end, there are the makers and implementers of political decisions, whose responsibility is great, but whose knowledge of the citizens' everyday life is scanty.
It is the task of the members of the Riigikogu, and also of government officials, to be much more efficient in their knowledge and understanding of the citizens' positions concerning development of the state. It is the task of the non-profit organisations to present their opinions to the political decision-makers with much better argumentation, and greater courage than before. This pattern of action would subdue the alienation of the people from the power, revive participation democracy, and hopefully also enhance statesmanlike behaviour, which is still lacking in Estonia.
3. To corroborate all this, let me draw three conclusions from the field of economy.
1. The question of our labour. Do we value the work of the Estonian people today? In normal circumstances, inequality of incomes is a powerful engine for capitalism. But if the gap is unjustifiably wide, it becomes a restraining factor. We have had major changes in the field of labour. Unemployment has increased, whereas in some professions there are not enough workers. Some professions are over- and some are underpaid. Often, there is no correlation between the contribution to the work and salary. The Estonian people are hardworking by nature, they are capable of work and value the fruits of their work.
2. Most of our gross domestic product is export-oriented. This is the only right direction for economic growth. But the strategic problem is that our export has low surplus value. In the pattern of economy, this means that enterprising as a whole compensates it with greater profit on the Estonian market, which has inevitably resulted in the quick raise of prices in Estonia, painfully felt by all the consumers. It is of paramount importance from the viewpoint of the society's development to find solutions to this problem. For this, we must purposefully raise the productivity of labour, develop products and accomplish the liquidation of the last ''natural'' monopolies.
3. And the third observation. The first cycle of the Estonian economy, which started with selling wafers and ended with the sale of our major banks, is over. The people who managed to become property owners at the end of the 1980s are now mostly keeping their heads down.
Estonia is proud of the accomplishments over the last dozen years, and rightly so. Our economy is the economy of an independent state. Our economy is an almost full-blooded market economy. Estonia is part of the Baltic Sea economy. But if we cling to the patterns of the past, the next upswing in the development of the Estonian economy will simply not begin. The export market for services will not enlarge any further but can rather be expected to shrink. Nature will set its limits to the export of raw materials. As part of the Baltic Sea circle, Estonia will have to compete with strong economies. It is clear that Estonia must develop modern production.
There are two major obstacles blocking the development of modern production, and they are inextricably linked to each other. They are the weakness of the human factor, and the obscurity of strategic goals resulting from it.
Due to external circumstances, the whole of the governing elite has several times been completely replaced in Estonia. The first occasion was at the time when we had freed ourselves of the Emperor's rule, and when young men built up the Republic of Estonia. But also the German and Russian occupying powers replaced nearly all of the social elite with their own collaborators. They were mostly young men, or child directors as we call them today. But those young men stayed at their posts for decades, and soon started to inhibit the progress.
In the wake of the restoration of our independence, a lot of young people were placed in high posts. Many of them have nowhere higher to progress to from their present positions, and their education is in many cases incomplete. Those who graduated from universities, still studied according to Soviet programmes. This not sufficient for a breakthrough in the European Union and free market economy.
Step by step, a new generation of people with international experience is emerging, but the leading positions are already taken. Today, enterprises are no longer looking for child directors, but managers with at least five years of work experience, unaware of the fact that those who started as child directors now belong to this very category. Our leadership potential is threatened by stagnation. Our politics is in danger of becoming the tool of one generation, at the expense of past and coming generations. ''The generation of winners''.
The second wave of the Estonian economy can not be one of old solutions. And new solutions can only be offered by people with a new, broader outlook. This brings us to the question of education.
And again, the problem of Estonian education is not lack of funds, but rather the lack of a strategic vision. Changes in marking system are nothing but cosmetics. The gradual transition to tuition fees is a painful process that can be completed in one fell swoop or not at all. And the roots of both phenomena are in the lack of a comprehensive strategy.
The Estonian educational strategy could proceed from coherence with the educational system of the European Union, so that our scientific degrees would be equivalent to those of other countries. The understanding that we are not preparing ourselves for yesterday, but for tomorrow could be another foundation of our educational strategy. We should be more open to younger people and their ideas. We must guarantee the gradual renewal of the scientific degree. Which means real education, not miseducation. And real science, not pseudo-science. Which means one professor instead of three, but with a triple salary. Which means innovation, a search for the common interests of knowledge and industry, then their implementation in parallel. So, what is the Estonian Nokia?
Dear fellow countrymen,
I can see that I repeat myself. But this only emphasises the fact that the governments have come and gone, but the main bearing of the development of our state has remained steady. True, we did not choose the easiest path, but we chose the shortest way to improve the quality of life. When comparing ourselves to our wealthy neighbours in the Nordic countries, we find no reason to rejoice. But it is good enough that we can compare ourselves to countries with the highest living standard in the world and then remember where we stood ten years ago. The decision of the Republic of Estonia to accede to the European Union and NATO has been recognised by our future partner states and as well as the citizens of the Republic of Estonia. But guaranteeing the quality of life to its citizens on the level that would meet their expectations is and remains to be the goal of the state. And this, as I have already pointed out, depends above all on our capability for the breakthrough on international market; although the attaining of this goal also depends on the quality our administration, our public servants - our administrative capacity. A new generation of competent officials had emerged, especially in the fields that are directly connected with integration to Europe. I am glad that other countries are asking our advice and measuring themselves with us. But therefore, also our homework has become more important - the administration of political process, speeding and keeping up the working pace. This must cover all Estonia and all areas of administration, this is what the question of Estonia's administrative capacity is really all about. We have reason to be proud of our country's dense Internet network, and have not given much thought to the fact that the creation of informational space is only worth its while when the number of officials in public sector is correspondingly reduced at the same time. The producer price of the Republic of Estonia, if you allow such cynical expression, is absolutely prohibitive. The administrative reform means nothing but fast, expedient, and friendly service of the citizen, unlike the Russian times. The administrative reform has only one way to succeed: we must get rid of unnecessary officials and heaps of paper. At the same time, I hope that the administrative reform will be carried out with clean hands, not like another political campaign.
The situation is most painful in the legal system: to say nothing of delayed trials, and the need to modernise the studies of law in the Tartu University, let us admit that the decisions of the court are dangerously often contrary to the people's sense of justice.
Of course, the administrative reform has worked up a lot of flying fantasies and enthusiastic spirits. Still, mind games should be left to writers of essays, politicians should not indulge in them. Estonia is not a curtain in Hollywood that can be pushed from one corner to another. We need a realistic sense of the present and the future, but this once again presumes the knowledge of Estonia's past and Estonian culture. Estonia is a clearly defined geographical whole, which has its geopolitical pros and cons, advantages and risks. We should learn to use the advantages and dissipate the risks, if they cannot be avoided. We should also understand the advantages and risks in our future, and act accordingly already today. Foresight is not something a man is born with, but it can be developed and is absolutely obligatory in the administration of state.
Here, I would like to slip in my disapproval of the privatisation schemes of our power plants, which have too little strategic vision and could cause problems instead of solving them.
As Head of State, both I and my successors have the task to do everything possible to secure the prosperity of the Estonian state and people, culture and language, to guarantee the defence of our country, economic power - including our integration with any neighbouring countries as concerns power production - and of course, to maintain our international authority.
The role of the Government of the Republic is similar. And also that of the parliamentary opposition, as we must not forget. ''Government'' and ''state'' are by no means identical concepts. Governments come and go, but the state remains. In a democratic system, this is certainly so - if it were not, we would not be talking about an opposition, but about a coup. And we can not let things go that far, although it has been painful to watch the substantial matters of public law being turned into a farce in the Riigikogu of late.
The difference between the state and the government should especially be emphasised when some governments tend to have the arrogant monopolous feeling that those in power are entitled to everything. A minister should not forget that also a public servant is in the first place loyal to the state and the people. The state has invested in the training of a good public servant, ideally he should be skilled in his profession and loyal to his state. The government, of course, is free in its decisions, but those must be based on the national interests of Estonia, which in itself means loyalty to the State.
Dear fellow countrymen,
dear guests, politics is the art of reaching one's goals and maintaining balance. I would like to add three conclusions.
First. Man. We can not put the task of building up our state and our people on anyone else's shoulders, and we must also be able to defend ourselves. I want this to be said loud and clear to all the shirkers and cowards, whose ''unique intellect'' somehow prevents them from defending their home. Sadly enough, the physical build of such ''unique intellect'' is often puny, consisting of clever fingerwork with the computer, a couple of hundred words in English, and lame logic and ethics. Loose morals, and a loose body to go with it. We must be able to learn from history, from the victories and failures of our history. Obligatory service in the army does not mean interruption of studies or waste of time, in the army different knowledge and skills are acquired that will certainly come in handy. In the army, we will learn to love our independent country and its values. This year, the defence expenditure will be larger. Here, I would like to express my appreciation to the politicians and electorate, who have supported this important step in building up the state.
Second. Nature. Our natural environment, that has been preserved due to sparse population, is unique in Europe. This is a resource we are not yet conscious of, that we more often than not still have to learn to use. Nature is fragile and vulnerable, and we could make huge and incorrigible mistakes when looking for immediate profit. Let us be masters in our own country, not avaricious colonists, who leave a ravaged country behind them. Nature can not be measured in money only. Also the export of raw timber is a sign of a bad master. If we add the wasted felling areas and damaged ecosystem, we can see that there is not much left of our advantages. Several well-known wildlife preservation activists and scholars have demanded the prohibition of felling in early summer. They have struggled in vain with the arguments of merciless market economy that the rented saws and other mechanisms must not rest. Balanced ecotourism is one of Estonia's opportunities, we have ideal resources here, for instance through the future deep-sea port at Saaremaa.
Third. God. The problem of Estonia's brief tradition of democracy is the contradiction between the rude capitalist avarice and a sparing model of development. It is very sad when loudly advertised scanty education and deficient ethical standards are taken as an example, and money is considered the equivalent of happiness. Unfortunately, such declarations can be heard more and more often. And unfortunately from the people who ardently wish to be the shapers of our opinions, or opinion leaders, to use a nice word. Of course, our economy is based on the laws of market economy, but these are not our sole foundation. For the state to function as a healthy organism, and to guarantee national security, we need something more. The spirit of capitalism must be supported by Protestant ethics, if we try to adjust Max Weber's terms to our context. Our economy and the development of our society must indeed proceed from the spirit of capitalism, which means adherence to the main principles of market economy, but these must be applied in sincere and conservative frame of mind, and this is what I mean here when I speak of the Protestant spirit. Today, starting the 83rd year of independence, it should already be clear to us that for progress, our energy should be divided between these poles. We have inherited a lot of rootlessness from the times of Soviet colonialism - everyday haughtiness in behaviour, also on the streets, including the self-confident and almost self-evident boasting of the tycoons. And the way it is tolerated and even followed as an example. Here, I see a great challenge to our church and religious education; moral standards should be taught to our children already at school, to say nothing of home. The church that was outlawed in Russian times has not yet restored its influential position in social life that the mature European society expects. A lot of work is still to be done in improving the spiritual quality of our society. Man must stand above his primitive urges. And so must society, where sensible adherence to values should replace the attitude that everything can be bought and sold.
The accumulation of national capital in Estonia has been as dirty a process as it was in Europe and in the United States of America in the second half of the 19th century. Neither the citizens nor the church, neither altruism, nor - terrible as this may seem - the understanding that Estonia in her transparency has the qualities of a family besides those of a state - has counterbalanced it. Let us have a look at the glossy photographs in society magazines. You can seldom see anyone without a glass in hand. When I and Malle Tohver, our Honorary Consul in Australia, went to a shop on Mothers' Day, and asked out of interest what the most expensive wine cost, the answer was 14,000 kroons. I was ashamed, and my Australian companion's attitude was obvious from her shrug which, when put to words, would have been something like ''What do you expect, they are still mere children''.
What do I and what do we still have to do?
We have accomplished good Internet connections, mobile telephone communication and electronic banking system. Let us put this together with the ideals of the Year of the Estonian Book - which certainly do not include the increase of value added tax on books.
Let us pull ourselves together, and instead of bringing the Tänassilma River to Pirita and the Munamägi to Tallinn, let us develop our assets and dissolve inhabitation all over the country. Let us create opportunities for building the Young Family settlements, with monthly payments not exceeding 3,000 kroons. This way, we bring life to the regions where the Russian times wanted to extinguish it. Of course, this must be supported by a network of schools, by the retraining of people, by study of life.
Our scientists a capable of research on global level. Let us take the Estonian gene research programme.
It is our task to find the ways to support it. Let us act as other countries do in modernising our society. Finland ensured its fast development by the alliance of brains and money, which they called Sitra.
Let us also concentrate on these tasks. And then we will attain what we call happiness.
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