Search in Speeches:
printer friendly document

The President of the Republic at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds on June 13, 2001

Estonia Remembers

My dear fellow sufferers,

Today, all those who never returned from the Sosva, Kolyma, Chukchi, and Stutthof concentration camps, are here on the Song Festival Grounds with us. All those buried in Siberia and in the wet tundra. All those who were arrested and are missing, all those who were recruited to foreign armies by foreign powers, all those who died on the long train journeys and were lifted out of the carriages without the mothers knowing where their children would be buried. All those, whose graves we do not know are here today. And first of all, you are here today.

I am so very glad, dear fellow sufferers, that we are so many despite everything. I would like to embrace you all, but that would take a long time. This is our day. But this is not a day for us to feel pity about our past. We feel for all those who are no longer with us, whose last glance and last hope went out to their country and the Estonian flag flying proudly over there, which is now again hoisted all over Estonia. This is our day.

Dear friends who have returned alive, what is the meaning of the Broken Cornflower? This is the day of our victory. Just imagine that we have actually made it. For ten years now, Estonia has been walking under her own flag again, she has come back to the world, where she had been wiped from the maps - from the political maps, but never from the legal ones. Today, we are again the people of Estonia, a people in Europe that has undergone the hardest tribulations of the world, because have been ground between two grindstones. A communist one and a Nazi one. Neither of the two had mercy on our small nation. Neither of the two could see any future for that small nation. And yet we have been tougher than those grindstones and now you see how many of us have survived despite everything, full of faith and loyalty to our small Estonia. Dear friends, I want to thank you for your faith and your loyalty. I know how hard it has been, and in my mind's eye I can also see the essay written by a schoolgirl, which I read this morning, and where she wrote: "We spoke about Estonia, but no one believed that we would ever see Estonia again."

I would like to tell you that few states and peoples have had to fight and silently resist, and give armed resistance to, such tribulations as fell on the state and people of Estonia. We have survived them. We have borne hard losses. I think that after the Jewish people, small Estonia is perhaps the European nation that has lost the greatest number of its citizens, I mean in World War II of the 20th century. Our gathering today is a summing up and our farewell to World War II. The summary is simple. We may have made mistakes in our politics before World War II, but they were minor mistakes. We know that Finland had stronger will-power and maintained her statehood. I can tell you that the world that forced itself into World War II, no longer exists. We can firmly look into the future, because Estonia would only be threatened by a situation involving the re-emergence of two totalitarian powers Europe. Today, such Europe no longer exists.

What does this mean to us? It means that we should feel in ourselves what you already have in your hearts. We must feel the pride of recognition that our small Estonia has, despite all our tribulations, taken the shaping of her fate into her own hands. Estonia shapes her fate according to the human values that shaped our life also before World War II. We have been a hardworking, proud and upright nation, we have been respected. We will be a hardworking, proud and wealthy nation also in the Europe that we are already helping to shape. We will shape it so that the threat, which we call the totalitarian threat, would never again rear its head in Europe. Already now, we have a straight path behind us. Never before has Estonia been so well known in Europe, nor has she ever before been so often highlighted as an example to others. We can be proud of Estonia already today. And we can be even more proud of Estonia when we will be in the European Union, which will form a protecting roof over our economy, our welfare, our work, our children and grandchildren. We can feel sure when we will be under the security umbrella of NATO. Also today, telegraph messages have brought us encouraging news that next year, decisions would be made concerning our security and the security of our children. This is your accomplishment, it has been your will, it has also been the will of all those who are no longer with us, but whose last glance still holds Estonia, wherever they may be buried.

We have not abandoned the hope that also our eastern neighbour, the Russian Federation, will one turn its eyes towards the future and stop repeating the nonsensical story that in 1940, the people of Estonia voluntarily joined the Soviet Union. We can only pity such stories. We can only shrug our shoulders if some Russian politicians conclude from this that therefore, Estonia has no right to join NATO. We have made our choices, and this choice is in your hearts. This choice has brought you together here on the Song Festival Grounds. When together, we can feel our strength, our will-power, our dignity and our commitment to go ahead until we can firmly say: Estonia has restored her place where we have always belonged, her place in Europe.

Estonia never left Europe of her own accord. You know very well the meaning of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact or Hitler-Stalin pact, when two cruel dictators tried to divide the world with their red pencil. This red pencil went right through our destinies and our souls. A huge number of our people fell victim to it. And yet we have been stronger than our destiny. We have learned from the mistakes of our past, and we shall not make them again. We can also encourage Russia, our eastern neighbour, because a country with a clean past will also have a clean future.

My dear fellow countrymen, I am glad that you are so many! What strength, what courage and what confidence my meetings in all the counties of Estonia have given me! I know that not everybody is wealthy, that there are also those who live in poverty. I often asked about this, and all those who have come through those heavy grindstones looked at me and said: Estonian flag is flying over us again, and as long as we are shaping our own fate with our own hands and with our own will under our own flag, all hardships can only be temporary. We all have left those hard years behind us. What happened to Estonia will never again happen to the people of free Estonia. This is the reason for our beautiful meeting today. I would like to shake hands with all of you, and to say: with your help, Estonia will bravely go ahead. You have the historical experience of World War II; you know the meaning of humiliation and misery, you know what it means when you have no right to speak out or write. This experience has momentous significance - you must tell young people about it, tell all those for whom the Republic of Estonia is self-evident. If we love our Estonian state, we must also care for it and be prepared to defend it. If our readiness is strong in all respects, we can be sure that no one will ever dare to attack Estonia again, as it happened 61 years ago. This is our celebration. We are not licking our wounds; we can say with pride: we have won! We are here, and we are the masters of our own destiny.

I thank you all and call you up here now - you will have the Broken Cornflower attached to your breast.

Thank you!


back | archive of speeches | main page

© 2001 Office of the President of the Republic
Phone: +372 631 6202 | Fax: +372 631 6250 | sekretar@vpk.ee
Reden Kõned Speeches Statements Interviews