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President of the Republic at the opening of Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom


We have freedom and are free to speak about freedom. This is something quite significant, although it seems self-evident today. The museum helps us to remember how it was when a free idea or a free word could quite easily cause one to lose their freedom for a very long time. It helps us to remember and explain this to our children and grandchildren, who are lucky not to have had this experience.

Vabamu tells us the story of the crimes committed by the occupation authorities. The museum speaks about the lack of democracy and freedom and how we fought against it, how we restored our state. This was the biggest breakthrough in our story – an abrupt improvement in the quality of life only because you were able to talk freely. You did not have to be afraid any more to whom, with whom or what you talked about or the consequences this could bring to your family members or to yourself.

Freedom is so important for society. It is so important to give society freedom and it is possible to do so quite quickly. Everything else came later and freedom is in many ways its prerequisite. Life improved immediately and simply because people freely published their thoughts in newspapers; they were already able to go to meetings before the restoration of independence; they were free to discuss what our leaders and emerging politicians were saying. Disagreements arose based on different political choices. This was completely incredible. This museum can pass on this message, just as all of us who remember those years have an obligation to pass on this message.

It is possible to imagine a good life in terms of material things without much freedom. There are always those that offer freedom not to think or freedom to restrict somebody else's freedoms on a silver platter. However, it is important to understand that in itself this constitutes the beginning of giving up our freedom. If somebody's freedoms are restricted, it will inevitably lead to a restriction of our rights at some point.

Lennart Meri said: "A state is born only once but freedom must be reborn every day". The words of Lennart Meri were very prophetic. Democratic freedoms that seemed instinctively understandable are often being questioned in the world today. Even in places where we have always thought those questions would never be asked. This is a creeping process that must be stood up to every day.

This is why it is good to have our Vabamu that we can visit and where we can contemplate what it means to be free. Is freedom something easy? Is freedom only available to a certain section of society? Is freedom something that another state, through direct occupation can take from us or can we even take it from ourselves? We can think about all of this while visiting the museum. Everything will become clearer here.

Lastly, I would like to recall with gratitude the founder of the museum, Olga Kistler-Ritso, and thank Sylvia Kistler Thompson, all her family and all others that back then helped to establish the museum and have now helped develop its new contents. Thank you all! I wish you, dear Vabamu, new impetus so that we can do what Lennart Meri asked us to do every day – ensure the rebirth and recreation of freedom. We know how important it is and we have no excuse not to do so.

Long live freedom!