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President of the Republic At the 30th Anniversary of Tallink Group

President of the Republic At the 30th Anniversary of Tallink Group © Tanel Murd


Dear Tallink team, owners and staff, ladies and gentlemen!

Only those companies that have done well can celebrate anniversaries with a zero at the end. And if a company is marking such an occasion for the third time, and in such a grand space as this hall, it means that it has really done fantastically well.

It is not very common that presidents speak at the birthday parties of the companies and this venue is not exactly where I feel at home. But nevertheless I am proud to be here, because Tallink is special.

This company is driven by ambition. It has the courage to set itself major goals, that it has the skill to achieve those goals and that it is capable of putting together an effective team to that end.

There was nothing particularly grand, and certainly nothing easy, when Tallink started its journey.
30 years ago Tallink was little more than the registered trademark of a joint Finnish-Estonian company.

The first trip on the 20-year-old ferry for 1000 passengers and 170 vehicles that the company had purchased, took place on the 8th of January 1990. It was the first ferry on Tallinn-Helsinki route.

When ESCO became the sole owner of Tallink on the 1st of January 1993, ESCO`s “Georg Ots” also began sailing under the name of Tallink.

Now you have been the market leader on the Baltic Sea for quite some time.

You rose to the top despite difficulties and very stiff competition. You have become one of Estonia’s biggest companies. Tallink is considered a prestigious employer. I congratulate you for all of these achievements once more!

But to my mind there was something that we can and should talk about. Today, with Estonia itself having done so well over the past three decades, with us having grown used to doing so well, it almost feels as though success is understood as the most natural thing and nothing special. If everything is wonderful, then Estonians usually say: “That`s normal.” But it wasn`t normal 30 years ago and it still isn`t normal. That explains why today, more than ever, we should be talking about the fact, that courageous, confident people, at a time when they had nothing to rely on but their courage and a simple plan of action, undertook and made a success of truly great things.

Presumably, things took much the same course in the founding of Tallink. There was an idea, there was the courage to act and there was a team willing to take risks. I have no doubt that there was no roadmap at the time charting the route to becoming market leader on the Baltic Sea.

Although today we are still faced with big, indeed vital decisions regarding our future, we have a tendency to turn into bureaucrats who attempt to predict the future based on linear calculations, without recognizing that future success needs breakthroughs in our development.

 If we had demanded of those who pushed through the monetary reform or of the founders of Tallink the same things that today’s opponents of Rail Baltic are demanding, neither of those things would ever have accomplished. Rail Baltic represents a breakthrough in transport, a breakthrough to the future – but all will not necessarily like it.

For this reason, it is important to me personally that Tallink continues to do well. You have evolved from a company without a vessel to a fleet of 14 ships on seven lines (11 ferries, 2 cargo ships, and a super- fast boat (in Canada)).

I hope that this year you will remain the market leader on the Baltic Sea with your 10 million passengers.  Remember, in 1990 you had only 165 thousand passengers (60 times less).

Tallink has offices in six countries – Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Sweden, Germany and Russia – and you offer not only transport of goods and passengers but also accommodation and trade services and more besides.

I hope we will hear more about Tallink’s plans for the future very soon, but there is one thing I am already sure of. However ambitious those plans may seem, these plans may be obsolete tomorrow. The world is changing quickly and so completely that by tomorrow you will need to be even more ambitious and take into account things that did not even exist yesterday. I urge you to think even more seriously on that point starting from tomorrow.

I know that although Tallink with its international team has done more for Estonia in the Baltic Sea region than we alone could have achieved, I think it would be a proud thing to be able to speak in 10 years’ time of Tallink as more than just the leader on the Baltic Sea. The world is yours.

I wish to the entire Tallink team courage in setting ambitious new goals and both wisdom and unwavering determination in achieving them.

I have to confess that my first state visit to Finland was with one of your ships. The waves that day were really bad. There were ministers and business people sea sick, but there was your unwavering team making sure that we all safely arrive. It was not the first time an Estonian president went to state visit with one of your boats, and it was the second time when a president went there with a storm.

Thank you also for letting me take a look at places people normally don’t find themselves.

Thank you all and congratulations!

The speech was originally held in english.