Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour to address this high-level meeting dedicated to the rights of indigenous peoples. As a member of an indigenous people – Estonians have lived on our present territory for several thousand years – I am especially happy to see among you so many about whom this conference is concerned. Thus we can discuss issues faced by indigenous people together. We have stood on both sides, as an oppressed indigenous people and now as a member of the United Nations. We know what indigenous peoples face. I would like also to flag at the very outset that it is unfortunate that the participation of indigenous peoples in UN fora is constantly questioned. It is incomprehensible, if not to say bizarre and shameful that some states attempt to hinder the participation of indigenous peoples, offering no explanation of their actions. We hope that this will soon be the past and that indigenous peoples will have a strong voice in the international community.
The President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who arrived for the opening week of the UN 69th General Assembly, held a reception on Sunday night with the Estonian Consulate and the New York Estonian Educational Society in the New York Estonian House to acknowledge the local Estonian community.
Today, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves will begin his working visit to the United States, where he will speak at the general debate of the 69th regular session of the UN General Assembly, at the security debate organised by the International Peace Institute and at the climate change summit. As an alumni, the President will also give a public lecture at Columbia University.
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves stated that 25 years ago he believed in the view of Francis Fukuyama – that democracy had won – but today our international relations have reached a stage he would never have wanted to experience.