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Tallinn Music Week reception at the Estonian Academy of Arts

29.03.2019

I am very happy to see you here in Tallinn in this really fantastic building. Many people were sceptical, when they learned that it will be reconstructed to be the Estonian Academy of Arts, but I think it is a wonderful environment and creative atmosphere.

This is something that I would like to expand to all of Estonia, particularly to Tallinn Music Week. Many people were quite sceptical about what Estonia would be in 30-years-time. Now we know that it is the creative hub of Europe and an innovation-driven society. We have our capital Tallinn and our university-town Tartu and all these other towns, smaller towns, that have one great objective – they want to be so welcoming that people want to be there, go there, spend time and study there, stay longer.

Because we lack people here in Estonia. We have one million people and our country is the size of the Netherlands – can you imagine? Therefore, you are all very welcome to set up your creative new companies, to use our e-residency, which I think is perfect for an independent, creative person, younger or older, who has great ideas, great skills, can find markets globally but maybe wants to concentrate on the European market. Because after all, a company created by an e-resident here in Estonia is a European company.

I think we all value being European very much. Our flexible legal space allows you to be European, even if you happen to be from third countries or even from the UK. To all our British friends – we know that the number of e-residents from the UK has been ticking up constantly and you can find a sure and safe foothold for your activities, for your businesses here in Estonia. Frankly speaking, you don’t even have to physically move here. But as I said, there is enough space, so please come!

I think Estonia is now a country that understands better than any other country that the 21st century is very much different in regard to how we work and how we serve our people if we are politicians. It used to be more or less the industrial way. It was this way: we all graduated from the universities, then we went to work, we worked in one company and then we went home in the evening. And according to where we worked, our taxes were payed, and according to where we went home in the evening, our services came to us – health security, education. I mean, this is so 20th century, isn’t it? Do any of you plan to work this way for the next thirty years – go to work at nine o’clock… [No!] Good! And you know, I think we should not make you. But the problem is, of course, for that to be possible, we as politicians have to accept that the tax-river from big companies, where people gather every morning and fill huge parking-places full of cars is going to dry up. It is not going to be there. We, as politicians, in order to make sure that you can still get your services from our governments, need to fly from flower to flower and find out where our taxes are coming from.

In Estonia, we want to be the safe harbour for those people who live globally, work globally, study globally. We want to make sure that here is the safe harbour where you, if you are our tax-payer, can come for services. Do you want this offer from us? [Yep!] Good! Our taxes are not low, but, well, after all, we are able to follow you around the world. Make sure that you can still vote, make sure that you can still participate, make sure that you can communicate with other people. You can re-apply for your driver’s license from the other side of the world. Is there any other country like that? No.

I have a plan. I hope it will materialise somewhere at the beginning of the next year, I will try to demonstrate to the whole world how easy it is to run a country from the other end of the world for a couple of weeks. And this is the way we want people who are connected to Estonia to be in the future. We want to be the safe harbour for people who will not lose contact with our service-offer because they are on the other side of the world. If our politicians understand this, I am quite sure that, sooner than any other country, we will be able to offer you this 21st century quicker than anybody else.

We are not yet there. We have to work a lot. But for that, we need a few things to continue this path. We need creative freedom, we need digital freedom, we need free thinking, we need a seamless global society. Is it trivial, what I am saying? [No.] No, exactly. I think, 25 years ago, I would have said it is trivial. In Europe, you should never think about the freedoms, they were there, just there, all of this was there, granted. Nowadays, I am not so sure. And I think it is perfectly understandable that we are now very hopeful about the 21st century, but there are a lot of people who are stuck in the inter-generational poverty because the offer of politicians has not been egalitarian enough – and I am a right-leaning politician, somebody who thinks that I might be a social-democrat, it will never be. But to guarantee good schools for everybody, easy access to universities for everybody, easy access to health-care and social services. If you are linked to Estonia for a longer term, this is something we will guarantee you.

We have always had an egalitarian school system. We created first schools 200 years ago for kids to go further than 4-5 classes and they accepted schools. There has never been a question of whether girls should go to school. I mean, egalitarian society is deep-rooted here in Estonia. And I think this is very important in the 21st century because we need to make sure that our freedoms survive, and for our freedoms to survive, we need to know that everybody in the society has a chance. It does not matter what my choice was in this life. Maybe I choose to be unemployed and live in a rural area, maybe go berry-picking and sell them in the autumn and make living that way. But my child has to have the chance to become a doctor or an investment banker. This is the credo of Estonians and very important for us.

But for that to survive in the 21st century we must every day all together stand up for our freedoms. The best way to stand up for our freedoms is to speak. Hiding yourself away from the global world is never the solution. If you are afraid of this world, come out, I will show you what a wonderful place it is. I will take you with me and we will do this together.

I know that you have much more creativity than I do, and I am not really able to find the right way, the right words and the right deeds to make sure that we are able to move quickly within our freedoms towards the reaction we want. But you here, in Tallinn can help us. Helen Sildna is great at thinking of creative city-spaces, and I am quite sure that without her work, Tallinn would not look like it does today.

I never thought that when we re-gained our independence, it does not have to be gleaming. The office spaces do not have to be gleaming. The best real-estate development here is in Kalamaja – it looks pretty forlorn because it is an old factory and is only renovated so much that it is made inhabitable. But it is full of start-up vibes! This is what matters – people who are inside these buildings and towns. Comfortable, free, secure. Because without freedom there is no creativity.

So, be with us, stay with us and use what this country has to offer! Work with us and smile at everybody!