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At the festive concert ceremony dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty

At the festive concert ceremony dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty © Office of the President

02.02.2020

Honourable President of the Riigikogu,
Foreign Ministers,
Members of the Riigikogu,
Ambassadors,
Ladies and gentlemen,

The Tartu Peace Treaty signed here 100 years ago today symbolises the achievement of a great miracle. A miracle that most people could not have imagined until a few years ago. Estonia became a free country.

The Estonian nation had won, successfully defending its freedom in a bloody war against a most powerful enemy. The Tartu Peace Treaty not only formalised the victory both legally and diplomatically, but it also laid the foundations for the wider recognition of Estonia as an independent and sovereign state.

Our country became a subject of international relations instead of an object.

However, the road to victory and the Tartu Peace Treaty was not easy. The diplomat’s quill brought us success, but it moved in unison with the warrior’s sword as they shared a common cause. Neither one could have prevailed without the other.

The Estonian People’s Force was what effectively protected our beleaguered land in 1918 and then proceeded to liberate it completely. Without this proper military presence the voices of the Estonian diplomats in Paris, London and even Tartu would have sounded too feeble. If they would have sounded at all.

On the other hand, the lengthy defence of Estonia would not have been possible without allies.

Had it not been for the efforts of the Estonian diplomats, the courage and self-sacrifice of our soldiers would have amounted to nothing more than glorious noise amidst the gloom of strategic defeat, to slightly paraphrase an ancient military strategist.

The Tartu Peace Treaty was a triumph of Estonian diplomacy!

Estonian politicians, diplomats and military leaders agreed on common goal: enemy forces must be expelled from the country and peace must be achieved with wide diplomatic recognition. All the actions of the Estonian state at that time were derived from that common goal. The goal was also clear to our allies and eventually accepted by them.

Having clear and common goals and staying true to our existing principles is still the most powerful weapon of Estonian foreign and security policies.

It is because of this that we have progressed from the warfare-based diplomacy of 100 years ago to the most intricate global diplomatic negotiations of today, becoming an elected member of the UN Security Council.

We are among the heavy hitters of diplomacy. We must care. We must understand. And we must have our say on issues that affect the whole world.
If we adhere to our existing principles, to our values, then I am certain that our modern allies will definitely understand Estonia. Even if they do not always agree with us.

They must understand the clarity and continuity of our foreign policy stances over the last 25 years. This understanding includes the unequivocal fact that the Tartu Peace Treaty was, is and will always remain the birth certificate of the Estonian state. And it is valid. Estonia did not join the Soviet Union voluntarily. We were occupied. And we restored our independence on the basis of legal continuity. At the same time we must respect the international consensus on refraining from any further redrawing of the post-war borders in Europe. Arguments to the contrary only create unnecessary confusion.

A country’s foreign policy cannot be driven by nostalgia and emotions, it must be balanced and rational. As it was the case for us in the War of Independence. The importance of both the military and diplomatic goals of the security policy must be understood. The goals must be common and immune to misinterpretation. Once agreed on, they must be adhered to. We will then remain as victorious as we were 100 years ago.

Let us cherish Estonia!