Eesti suursaadik Ameerika Ühendriikides Jonatan Vseviov vabariigi aastapäeva kõnet pidamas. Foto: Eesti suursaatkond Washingtonis
22. veebruaril tähistas Eesti Suursaatkond Vabariigi Aastapäeva vastuvõtuga Soome Suursaatkonnas. Eelmisel aastal tähistasime Eesti sajandat juubelit, sel aastal keskendusime sõprus- ja liitlassuhete rõhutamisele. Sellepärast pidutsesime seekord koostöös oma lähimate partnerite soomlastega.
Oli suur rõõm näha vastuvõtul nii palju eestlasi, Eesti sõpru ja koostöökaaslasi. Suur tänu kõigile!
Suursaadik Jonatan Vseviov rõhutas oma kõnes liitlassuhete olulisust ning vabaduse ühemõttelisust ja jagamatust.
Suursaadiku kõne veidi lühendatud tekst järgneb.
Ambassador Vseviov giving keynote address at Estonian Embassy’s Independence Day celebration. Photo by Karin Shuey
Ladies and Gentelmen, Dear Friends,
Thank you all for being here!
What an honor it is for me to be able to welcome you all to the celebration of Estonian Independence Day here, at the Finnish Embassy.
I know this does not happen often – celebrating one´s most special day at the Embassy of another nation, and I am sure many of you were surprised to receive the Estonian Ambassador´s invitation to the Finnish Embassy. Perhaps some of you even thought that this was some kind of a mistake, a misunderstanding.
But Ladies and Gentelmen, this was no mistake!
Last year, we celebrated Estonia´s Centennial at the Cosmos Club – a beautiful building that was once home to the great American diplomat Sumner Welles, the author of the Welles Declaration, which became, of course, the foundation of American non-recognition of the Soviet occupation in the Baltic States.
This year, we are reinforcing that point with another message. The message that international friendships, and alliances, matter.
It would be difficult to find two other nations in the world that would share as much as we do with Finland. We are close neighbors, and good friends.
So again, thank you, Finland for welcoming us here!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
By being here, we wish to underline a lesson we have learnt throughout our history:
for freedom to survive, we must stand together, fight for it together, and defend it together. Everywhere, all the time.
Because freedom´s defeat somewhere is a defeat for freedom everywhere.
There are no grey areas, no buffer zones between freedom and tyranny.
Where light retreats, darkness takes hold.
This is the lesson of our history. A lesson that underlines the importance of international cooperation in defense of our way of life.
101 years ago this week, Estonia was declared independent. The values upon which our Declaration of Independence is based, are the very same values upon which other free nations stand – democracy, the rule of law, freedom of speech and religion, and an understanding that every man and woman is created equal.
The very next day after the first public reading of the declaration, foreign armies invaded. So we had to fight. And we fought. And while the fight was difficult, we won, but not alone. We were never alone.
At the conclusion of our War of Independence, the highest award – Estonia´s Cross of Liberty – was awarded to over 3200 people. Out of them, over 600 were Finnish citizens, over 100 were Brits; there were Latvians and Lithuanians, Danes and Swedes, Poles and Bulgarians, Frenchmen and Italians, and yes – there were Americans. Altogether representatives of over eighteen nations.
There were no functioning international organizations, no legally binding treaties, and no formal alliances. Yet our international friends fought with us. They fought with us not because of us, but because of freedom. Not just our freedom, but freedom in general.
Participants in Lakewood Estonian House Independence Day program featuring (adults from left): Ülle Bucholz, Luule Prima, Viiu Vanderer, Andres Simonson, Karin Shuey, Merike Käo, Kairi Künka, Tõnu Vanderer, Helica DeShaw, Ilmar Vanderer, and the children of the Lakewood Estonian School. Photo: Ron Ingraham
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know, the 20th Century had much more in store for us. After two short decades of independence, another occupation, then another one, and then another one. Altogether – 50 years of occupations, 50 years of tyranny.
And then – rebirth. The collapse of the evil empire, the regaining of independence, and the re-integration of Estonia into its rightful place in the West.
Today, we are the world´s most successful digital state. A country where citizens mainly interact with the government online. Where taxes are declared online, and in most cases in less than five minutes. Where people vote online, and where documents are signed online, with a legally binding digital signature.
We have become a country that values entrepreneurship and innovation, a country where start-ups not only start, but succeed.
Our growing economy is transparent, our media is free and corruption is almost nonexistent.
We are a member of NATO, and the European Union, a member of the OECD and the OSCE, part of the Eurozone and the Schengen area. As integrated into the West as one can be.
This too is no mistake. Our success, our re-integration into the West, did not just happen.
It happened because of our people´s deliberate and persistent desire to make sure that we would never be alone again. A desire that is strongly informed by our history.
Throughout our journey, we´ve enjoyed the support of our international friends. Most significantly – we´ve enjoyed the support of the United States of America.
In good days and in bad – Estonia has always been able to depend on American support.
Americans fought in our War of Independence, and the United States never recognized the illegal annexation of Estonia into the Soviet empire.
American leadership paved our way back into Western institutions, and it continues to be vital for the success of these institutions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is why we are celebrating our Independence Day here in the Finnish Embassy.
Our history teaches us that we are only successful when we stand together with our friends and allies.
This is the foundational principle of Estonian foreign policy, and this principle stands at the heart of our relations with the United States of America.
This relationship of ours – the Estonian-American relationship – is not built on narrow economic interests. It is not built on similar geography, or partisan politics.
Our relationship is built on the shared values upon which our very societies are built.
As Allies we defend each other, we fight for each other, because securing freedom in Estonia is as much in American interests as securing freedom here is in Estonia´s. We are part of the same free world, the same transatlantic community.
But, Ladies and Gentlmen,
History never ends. The fight is never over. The challenges that confront us may evolve, but they certainly never disappear. Authoritarianism and chaos, tyranny and terror – all alive and well.
And war in Europe – something that was supposed to be impossible in the 21st Century – is back.
We´ve seen all of this before. And we know, that every time we´ve stood together, we´ve won. And every time we´ve allowed the free world to be divided, we´ve suffered.
Let´s not repeat the mistakes of the past. Let´s repeat what´s brought us success.
Let us strengthen that what has made us strong.
Let us strengthen the institutions that bring us together. Not for the sake of these institutions, but for the sake of our shared security, our shared values.
As Estonia has always been able to count on the United States, so too can America always count on Estonia.
We´ve stood by each other at times when standing by each other was easy, and at times when it was not.
We´ve stood by each other in defeating terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we´ve stood by each other in facing down aggressors in Europe.
We´ve stood by each other with an iron-clad commitment and with no caveats.
We´ve stood by each other because we´ve wanted to, and because our history has taught us that we must.
Because for freedom to survive, we must defend it together. Everywhere, all the time.
Long live the United States of America!
Long live Estonia!
Happy Independence Day!