- Reset + Print

Opening speech in the honour of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia at the Latvian National Opera House

Opening speech in the honour of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia at the Latvian National Opera House
President Kaljulaid on the stage of the Latvian National Opera House
© Office of the President


President Vejonis,

Prime Ministers Kučinskis and Ratas

Ladies and gentlemen,

Dear neighbour(s) and friend(s),

Latvian film director Daira Abolina has said that Latvians and Estonians are like half-brothers. Our sense of humour, temperament and languages are different. But at the same time, we share traditions, values and history.

Last Saturday we celebrated the centenary of independent Estonia in Tartu, which is by the way, one of the most popular travel destination for Latvians visiting Estonia. Only 3 days later, we are celebrating our 100th Independence Day here in Riga. Thinking of Latvian folklore then this seems to be surprisingly fast for Estonians.

Latvia and its dynamic capital have always been attractive to Estonians. Many come to discover your rich cultural history and to benefit from the success of your economy. Quite a few have made Latvia their home. Lately short visits to the other side of the border have become particularly popular.

A number of Estonian intellectuals have Latvian roots like our poet Kristjan Jaak Peterson who was born in Riga in 1801. Or writer August Gailit. Many came to study at the Baltic Teacher's Seminar and later on engineering in Riga. Estonian alumni of Cimze Seminar and Riga's Theological Seminar had a role in shaping Estonian intellectuals and creating an independent Estonian State that was able, like independent Latvia, to flourish over 2 decades. We witnessed together how our independent states were destroyed.

During the harsh years of occupation, the source of strength and glimmer of hope came from our traditions and culture. A special bond was born. We exchanged experiences and shared culture on many levels. From schoolchildren having friendship classes to one of the most popular Estonian films "Viimne reliikvia" / "Pēdējā relikvija" where everyone will recall actresses Elza Radzine and Ingrida Andrina. Our special bond has grown stronger since the restoration of independence in 1991. A good example of this connection are ballet dancers Kaie Kõrb and Viesturs Jansons and poet Doris Kareva and translator Guntars Gondinš.

The connections are of course not limited to education and culture. But they are a fine example of the interconnection that needs to be extended to all areas of cooperation and in some spheres go beyond our countries.

Tomorrow we will be celebrating Latvia's 100th anniversary in Tallinn. An old Latvian proverb says, "When you go to Estonia, take your own bread". Times have changed. There is no need for that.

Enjoy the ballet "Kratt" by Estonian composer Eduard Tubin – I can promise the pace will surprise you.

Elagu Eesti!

And see you tomorrow in Tallinn!