Speeches https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches Mon, 09 Dec 2019 11:22:12 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb At the École Nationale d'Administration https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15543-at-the-ecole-nationale-d-administration https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15543-at-the-ecole-nationale-d-administration Dear graduates!

Please accept my sincerest congratulations!  In a way, here today you are coming to the end of your formal education path – postgraduate studies.

Therefore, it is apt to look how this educational path you followed, matches the need of you yourself and the future of our society. And what might need to change for the next generations, to make them best prepared for the challenges they face.

Curriculae have always been prepared from the perspective of the past. We all have acquired an education our parents thought would prepare us adequately for the challenges of our generation.

Of course, as all loving parents, they have got some things right and missed some opportunities. Similarily, we are sending our kids to the schools today, to prepare for the challenges of the early 21st century, but not for the II half of it. How might our educational proposal look 25 years from now?

We had noticed that technological cycle is shortening. We did foresee, to certain extent, that the 21st century would see birth and death of much more inventions than the 20th century. After all, only petroleum lamp and horse cart truly expired in the 20th century. Most inventions just got more efficient, but survived.

We did not foresee that the digital disruption to our societies would be so profound that many of our kids will be able to work very differently from us.

We did not foresee that geography becomes meaningless for many professionals while seeking jobs. We did not foresee that many of them would not need to do what economists for a whole century thought inevitable – gather into enterprises in order to, through specialization, work in the most productive manner.

We did not foresee that the proportion of people in developed economies working in industry would fall from about 30% 25 years ago to 19% today here in France when you graduate and maybe to 3-5% of the whole workforce by the time our kids will graduate.

We did not foresee that the next generation would be the most powerful generation of history, free to work where they want, when they want, with whom they want and able to reconsider as often as they wish.

We give on the freedoms we ourselves love – the four freedoms of Europe, Eurozone and Schengen. However, digital disruption is giving our kids much more we ever could.

They will enjoy an absolute freedom globally, determined and defined only by their own imagination – and alas, our regulation, allowing or restricting these new freedoms. Our kids can work in different enterprises, even different countries, simultaneously.

They will not need to demand flexible working hours; instead, they will define them yourselves. Our kids will not accept to sit in one house, one city or one country while they work. They will insist that even, should they work as a controller of an assembly line; they should be able to do so from a Mediterranean beach or from the top of the Alps.

They will not accept long-term contracts, stipulating the working hours or competition clauses, as they will definitely be able to sell their specialized skills independently and to many enterprises simultaneously.

We did not prepare them for that from the day one when they entered école maternelle. Nevertheless, I know that we have also got something right. We have trained our kids in human rights and liberal democratic values.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 14 Nov 2019 09:11:37 +0000
At the General Policy Debate of the 40th General Conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15542-at-the-general-policy-debate-of-the-40th-general-conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15542-at-the-general-policy-debate-of-the-40th-general-conference Mr President of the General Conference, Madame Director-General, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me first stress that Estonia aligns itself fully with the statement to be delivered by the European Union.

As a small nation, that became the member of UN and its bodies, including UNESCO, only in 1991 after regaining its independence, Estonia is a strong believer in multilateralism as a tool to address the global challenges of our time. We will carry this responsibility in less than 8 weeks in the UN Security Council. Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in the inspiring event “Rethinking multilateralism with young change-makers” held in this very house. Along with my fellow Heads of State and Government I was able to meet young leaders from all over the world and exchange views on ways to strengthen global cooperation in our increasingly digital and artificial intelligence influenced world.  The debate showed clearly that youth is ready to take action and leadership. 

Given its mandate, UNESCO is well placed to develop ethical principles of artificial intelligence, a task that UNESCO is aiming for. And let me stress that the development of technologies we commonly call AI, is an opportunity for humankind. It is essential to make sure that AI technologies are developed with clear ethical standards that respect human rights and are based on the rule of law. We must use the tools of multilateralism to reach common positions on how universal human rights, the protection of national sovereignty and other wide principles of international law would apply at every technical level. There is no need to agree on a new legal space. We simply need to understand how everything which applies in the analogue world, also stands true in the digital domain. Close coordination with other international organisations working with the AI needs to be ensured in this process.

The role of technology in education and the importance of technology-related skills’ development of all learners and educators should also be emphasized. Initiating an overall global debate on what the future may hold in the context of education is crucial. UNESCO´s initiative on Futures of Education is a visionary exercise, encouraging the world to think further from 2030, to address education and learning 2050 and beyond. Digital disruption has changed our societies, including education, and we need to  radically rethink the ways our children are taught. Next generations need to be ready for the new challenges. Times have changed and we need to discover new ways of how to support learning. And I firmly believe that integral part of the new 21st century curricula is also to educate our children to be compassionate human beings.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 13 Nov 2019 12:57:34 +0000
At the Junior Chamber International (JCI) World Congress „Clean World Day“ https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15532-at-the-junior-chamber-international-jci-world-congress-clean-world-day https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15532-at-the-junior-chamber-international-jci-world-congress-clean-world-day Dear participants of JCI World Congress, dear activists and changemakers!

Whose responsibility is a clean world?

With goals like this: simple and broad at the same time – clean world –, it’s easy to point fingers. And indeed, we can see a lot of pointing fingers. Justified demands from the civil society towards businesses and governments to act.
And responses (also understandable from a certain point of view): we only do what you as consumers and voters ask us to do.

But we all know that pointing fingers is not a useful strategy when we are facing the greatest challenges humans have ever faced, climate change and environmental degradation. Our planet is suffering from s disease called Man. Human. Homo sapiens.

Of course, it starts with each one of us, from the choices we make in our daily lives. Especially when we talk about consumers who actually do have a choice. Not all have, but in the rich world, we do. Your congress sets a wonderful example.

Surplus food for dinners that are served from second-hand tableware, donated by people who didn’t need it at their homes. As far as I know, this tableware will be used to start a social enterprise after the congress that will continue lending it for next events here in Estonia.

You were encouraged to bring along your own refillable water bottles and coffee cups, to avoid bringing unnecessary gifts and anything made from single-use plastic, to use your devices for taking notes. All the information was given in digital format, without the need to pack it in yet another conference bag. And I believe it hasn’t made the event less enjoyable?

When we dedicate ourselves to changing a habit or learning something new – in this case living a life with as little waste as possible – it does quite naturally become an interesting and rewarding journey.

Especially as we don’t expect an individual to go through a very dramatic change all at once – you are here in the warm room and had to change your habits by 5 percent. But this is the right way to do it, no one can set the world record on the first day of training. Friendly peer pressure and support is the best incentive to start on this road and remain on track.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 08 Nov 2019 11:25:42 +0000
At the Annual Baltic Conference on Defence 2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15511-at-the-annual-baltic-conference-on-defence-2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15511-at-the-annual-baltic-conference-on-defence-2019 Ladies and Gentlemen, dear participants,

Let me start with stressing that development of the technologies we commonly call Artificial Intelligence is an opportunity for humankind. First and foremost, it’s an opportunity to match in real time what we need with and where we need it and how we can get it. In the widest sense imaginable.

For example, even a relatively narrow or stupid AI will be able to guide energy grids towards ideally matched production and consumption, with flexibility on both sides.  

Whereas the traditional energy grid functioned on the basis of permanent readiness for the maximum levels of supply, to be able to cater for inflexible and unmanaged demand. Thus, for example here in Estonia, AI can reduce the maximum needed capacities by at least 20%.

The more sophisticated the AI, the more precisely it can perform for our societies. It’s technically already today perfectly possible to pay by looking deeply into the blinking eye of an automated checkout system.

In Estonia, we actually do ask algorithms to compare data from the address registry with that of the retirement payment registry, and if the result is as defined, then we pay a top-up to a person’s pension. In principle, such a simple active service was technically possible long before we started calling this kind of computing an AI function. But at the lowest level, that’s what it is – machines making decisions for people.

AI can match our empty fridge with delivery box and our calendar with the time when our food has to be in the said delivery box.

It can monitor our vital signs and advise us of trouble ahead, or directly advise 112 if – in AI’s opinion – we are not aware of the problem or not able to call for help ourselves.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 30 Oct 2019 12:22:39 +0000
At the GreenEST Summit 2019 – Mobility and Logistics https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15524-at-the-greenest-summit-2019-mobility-and-logistics https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15524-at-the-greenest-summit-2019-mobility-and-logistics Unstoppable development of technology and industrial revolutions have shaped our Earth drastically and driven us to a point where crucial decisions need to be made.

Even though we represent just 0.01% of all life on the planet, our impact on ecosystems has been disproportionally big.

Once again we are moving through uncharted territory where many expectations are put on new technologies. It reminds me the Heroic Age of Exploration where technology, which was yet missing was replaced by the never-ending curiosity, courage, and patience of man to discover our planet. Climate change and environmental degradation are indeed the greatest challenges humans have ever faced.

Mobility has always been closely coupled with globalization and economic growth. Modern patterns of mobility, evolved by personal interest like tourism and employment or by cargo trade, were developed in a world where increasing mobility couldn’t be seen as a threat. Increased possibilities to move meant more freedom and added opportunities for both private people and companies.

For the latter, expanding the market increased chances to grow and make more profit. It all became possible because of the progress of transportation and logistics. Innovation made travelling faster, more feasible. As a result, we have never been as mobile as today.

The planet is physically still the same size, but travel distances measured in time have diminished remarkably. Jules Verne's classic adventure novel „Around the World in 80 Days” would certainly need some adjustments in its’ title if it was written today.

Global tourism has increased exponentially since the end of the Second World War.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 29 Oct 2019 07:14:55 +0000
At the Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) Conference “25 years of defending women’s human rights: Milestones and visions for the future” https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15497-at-the-women-against-violence-europe-wave-conference-25-years-of-defending-women-s-human-rights-milestones-and-visions-for-the-future https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15497-at-the-women-against-violence-europe-wave-conference-25-years-of-defending-women-s-human-rights-milestones-and-visions-for-the-future Welcome to Estonia and thank you for adding your wave to our wave.

Waves tend to amplify each other. Here in Estonia we are at the top of a considerable societal wave, having finally recognized that we have a problem and we have to find ways and means that would help us to solve the problem.

We are looking into the mirror now. Yet, only a few years ago we did not. We tended to think that since we are not a rich Scandinavian country, we cannot solve these problems and thus it may be better not even to speak about them.

People like Pille Tsopp-Pagan and her colleagues had to swim against this previous wave day by day, hearing that this problem is not important. That we have to grow our economy, deal with more pressing issues, and then maybe one day, when everything else is solved, we may start looking at the weaker in this society.

In many emerging countries, Estonia included, it seems quite common that the problems of the weaker are overlooked in the hope that some day in the future we will be better off and these issues would become resolved by themselves.

Estonia is a rare example of a country that has been able to radically change its economy for the better. Therefore we are now also able to disprove that if economy does well then all the social problems would disappear. It is markedly visible that we need to make a special effort to resolve these problems, including violence against women.

We feel very much supported by you. You validate our action here. Although there are still people here who doubt if we really have to deal with these issues, we are getting there. With your help, maybe a year or 6 months quicker, and somebody will find it easier to climb over the wall that separates the society or happy and the society of desperately unhappy and not knowing how to tell the other part that they are looking for help.

The growth of your organization within these 25 years – from a small informal network to the lively coalition of 150 members, representing 46 countries – reflects well the wave of change that we see around us.

A change that is the result of the work you and your colleagues are committed to. A change that makes many societies safer, fairer, more equal and just.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 07 Oct 2019 11:23:16 +0000
At the 74th United Nations General Assembly https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15448-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-74th-united-nations-general-assembly https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15448-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-74th-united-nations-general-assembly Mr President
Mr Secretary General,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Brothers and sisters,

40 years ago, 40 years after Europe had been divided between those with power, between those who never hesitated to use this power to the benefit of their own nations and detriment of the others – 45 people from the Baltic States sent out an appeal to the United Nations, to the EU and the countries involved.

Their appeal – later known as the Baltic Memorandum – carried the hope that multilateral co-operation based on the rule of law can deliver for the small occupied states located between the two global blocks, the liberal democratic world and the Soviet Union.

Just 12 years later, the three Baltic States re-joined the world of free and independent states. This was a victory for democracy and multilateral co-operation.

This year, Estonia celebrates the 40-year anniversary of the Baltic Appeal by taking responsibility we could not even dream about during occupation – becoming an elected member of the Security Council of the United Nations.

We took this responsibility because we care. We care about the weaker and the weakest among states and within societies. We care about those whose voice needs amplification by the multilateral world in order to be heard.

We care about nations facing genocide. We care about their women, their children.

We care about nations facing long term conflicts and suffering from terror. We care about their generations of boys for whom the only known profession is that of a soldier.

We care about nations facing extinction through the slow weapon of mass destruction – the climate catastrophe.

We care about nations facing famine, and famine-induced disturbances due to climate change.

We care about nations depending on this multilateral co-operation, based on the rule of law, which is the United Nations.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 25 Sep 2019 15:38:56 +0000
At the 16th Yalta European Strategy (YES) Annual Meeting in Kyiv https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15425-at-the-16th-yalta-european-strategy-yes-annual-meeting-in-kyiv https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15425-at-the-16th-yalta-european-strategy-yes-annual-meeting-in-kyiv Dear Ukrainian friends and friends of Ukraine! 

I am very happy to be back at this conference with you and also happy to see free mister Sentsov here. I believe many of us here have called for his freedom and freedom for other prisoners. Many of us have used hashtags #freesentsov. And now it has happened.

On the other hand, let us not forget that this is only the first step, but the run is a marathon – 42 kilometres.

At the moment it is not yet easy to say that we have taken a really long step forward, but I know that somewhere around the 21 km mark, the political elite of this world might feel that we are closer to the finish line then we actually are.

At that point we must remember that Crimea is still occupied, this is something we need to solve and it takes strategic patience.

It may take 50 years — the Baltic states were occupied 50 years, but this was never recognised and this is what gave us back our freedom. So, I wish you all the happiness and I wish us all strategic patience in that question.

While preparing this speech, I realised that while political thinkers of the Baltic states are often invited to share their reform experience, our experience is, to a certain extent, rather irrelevant. It is true that its technicalities are still relevant, but their meaning to the outside world, if repeated, will be totally different.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 13 Sep 2019 08:00:05 +0000
Keynote address at the 24th World Energy Congress in Abu Dhabi https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15413-keynote-address-at-the-24th-world-energy-congress-in-abu-dhabi https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15413-keynote-address-at-the-24th-world-energy-congress-in-abu-dhabi Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

I would like to tell you a story of my country. Maybe it is also inspiring globally if we think of the situation in global energy market today. This general feeling that we must change the way we produce and use energy.

Yet we do not yet feel quite comfortable doing things the new way, because there is no clear academic pathway or business plan to take us where we want to be – not using less energy, but using it with clean consciousness, if I may say so. Using clean energy.

Many of you have heard of the Estonian miracle of digitally transformed society.

It is a country where people never go to government offices, because all services – with the exception of getting married, you have to show up to your own marriage – run online.

Estonia never set out to become the world`s only totally digital government service provider in 25 years’ time.

We did not plan to be the catalyst to create a pan-European integrated digital identification model, leading us into single digital market in the EU.

Yet it happened. This is what Estonia is today—the digital sandbox, the test site for digital services.

Why did it happen? Because Estonia was facing a very similar situation to the energy sector today: lack of resources, no clear business case for us to become developed state from emerging market, and no clear understanding how new technologies could support us in it. 

Estonia is a country of a million people and while starting its transformation, belonged to the class of middle-income countries, an emerging market relatively poor in new technologies.

Knowing this it becomes clear that turning into a digitally transformed nation and doing so first in the global world could not happen by smart state investment into the tech products created by local scientific community.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 10 Sep 2019 04:48:53 +0000
At the opening session of the Riigikogu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15410-at-the-opening-session-of-the-riigikogu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15410-at-the-opening-session-of-the-riigikogu Dear members of the Riigikogu!

I am worried by our prospects. The horizon. Or more specifically – what is beyond the horizon.

There are so many threads we should be pulling on right now. Threads which lead to new opportunities, to new finds that help create growth and development. Also threads, which have been created by our previous aspirations, previous hopes and our desire to meet these expectations.

There are also threads, which today seem to mainly lead to worries and painful questions in our society. However even those have great potential – if we are not afraid and will start to entangle them now, they might turn out to be roads to success, rather than ways to patch up issues and alleviate troubles.

Every nation's history has tales of misfortune turning into success. Let us remember.

Take the currency reform – it took us to the eurozone in 20 years, not having to fear for the endurance or strength of our money. It was born from the need to restore people's faith in the value of money and the promises of state.

Our proportional tax system. Born from our inability to manage a complex model and our need to motivate people to make more money and declare their income honestly.

Our e-state.  Born from our inability to construct a state brimming with papers and offices.

Does the list have to end here? No, it does not. We still have similar threads. Promising ones and those that seem, at first glance, rather discouraging.

Our oil shale energetics. It is obvious that one sector will soon break into two – the paths of oil shale and energy production will diverge.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 09 Sep 2019 10:18:36 +0000
At the event marking the anniversary of the Baltic Way at the Lilli border point https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15382-at-the-event-marking-the-anniversary-of-the-baltic-way-at-the-lilli-border-point https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15382-at-the-event-marking-the-anniversary-of-the-baltic-way-at-the-lilli-border-point Fellow countrymen,
Friends from Latvia and Lithuania,

Nothing changes in the world unless we change something ourselves.
You have to do everything you can, even if you can only do little.
Even if you are in chains, even staring death in the face, even on the gallows, you must sound the alarm: “Oh people, be on your guard!”

Thus wrote August Sang during the dark and depressing days of occupation in his song Laul veriste kätega mehest (‘Song of a Man with Blood on His Hands’). He wrote of justice and not acquiescing to evil.

Thankfully, in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania there were people who sounded the alarm even when bound and facing death, and whose courage in the most terrible of times gave others hope and chipped away at the suffocating wall of isolation and silence.

On this day 40 years ago a Baltic petition was published to which 45 brave souls from three countries had given their signatures: four Estonians, six Latvians and 35 Lithuanians from the three occupied Baltic States.

Years later, Estonian cultural figures who were concerned about the preservation of the Estonian language and culture put their names to the Letter of 40 Intellectuals. Some time after that, national movements emerged for the protection of Estonia’s natural environment and heritage.

While at first our alarm was sounded very quietly, it nevertheless significantly supported everyone’s belief in themselves and kept alive the hope for freedom. Little by little, it dispelled people’s fear of the evils of a foreign power.

This self-belief grew into a desire and resolve to restore our freedom, and 30 years ago united us – the peoples of our three nations – in the Baltic Way. Almost two million people came together in a human chain stretching for 675-and-a-half kilometres to change something in the world:

to make the world freer and more just.

I stood here with my friends, 30 years ago, at the Lilli border point between Estonia and Latvia.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 23 Aug 2019 06:02:47 +0000
On the 28th anniversary of the Estonian restoration of independence in the Rose Garden of the Office of the President https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15366-president-of-the-republic-on-the-28th-anniversary-of-the-estonian-restoration-of-independence-in-the-rose-garden-of-the-office-of-the-president-on-20-august-2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15366-president-of-the-republic-on-the-28th-anniversary-of-the-estonian-restoration-of-independence-in-the-rose-garden-of-the-office-of-the-president-on-20-august-2019 In the summer of 1979, 45 Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians found themselves unable to use the right to remain silent reserved for each person considered a citizen of the Soviet Union.
A public letter to the general secretary of the UN, East and West Germany and the governments of the countries of the Atlantic Charter became internationally known as the Baltic Appeal.

The appeal demanded public disclosure and annulment of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols. The appeal was scheduled for the 40th anniversary of the pact and was published on 23 August 1979.

All of the signatories were, of course, aware that staying silent would have been safer and less troublesome. However, the Baltic States had been occupied and somebody had to show that time was being counted even here, behind the Iron Curtain and with seemingly tacit acquiescence – 40 years from Molotov and Ribbentrop. Nearly 40 years of occupation.

Four Estonian men gave their signatures – Mart Niklus, Enn Tarto, Endel Ratas and Erik Udam.

And someone still heard, noticed and took this small spark, which showed that the Baltic States had not surrendered, forgotten or given up, and blew it into a flame.

On the evening of 23 August, the Baltic Appeal was already being talked about on the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. The New York Times published it on 25 August.

On 13 January 1983, the European Parliament adopted a resolution in which it called for the United Nations to acknowledge the right of the Baltic States for self-determination and independence and demanded that the question be decided via public vote.

The period that followed the publication of the Baltic Appeal was tough for the freedom fighters. Mart Niklus was arrested in 1980 and Enn Tarto in 1983. Both men were released in 1988.

A year after the Baltic Appeal, the Letter of 40 Intellectuals was published, the authors of which also refused to use their right to refrain from taking a risk, which they, as respectable citizens, had. The repressions that followed were weaker. Ten years after the Baltic Appeal, the number of fearless people had grown so much that we could all stand together to form the Baltic Way.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 20 Aug 2019 12:00:14 +0000
At the CIOR MILCOMP 2019 prize giving ceremony at the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15372-at-the-cior-milcomp-2019-prize-giving-ceremony-at-the-estonian-academy-of-security-sciences https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15372-at-the-cior-milcomp-2019-prize-giving-ceremony-at-the-estonian-academy-of-security-sciences Dear reserve officers of Europe, America and Africa,

I hope that you have enjoyed the “hot” Estonian weather and that you came well prepared for these difficult climate conditions. Because as we all know – preparedness is everything. I know this very well because this is a motto that that my own chief of staff, reserve-lieutenant Tiit Riisalo has used when training his fellow reserve officers for winning the Swiss Raid Commando military competition. So you can imagine that in the Estonian Presidents office we exercise, we train, we prepare mentally for all the challenges that history could throw on us.

This is also a motto that I believe describes the very essence of being a reserve officer. It’s about being prepared to leave your civilian life behind at a very short notice and to pick up arms to defend your country, your way of life, your values. And it’s not only you, it’s also your families and beloved ones that have to be mentally ready. It’s so important and I know that you all are very grateful for your close ones. And I’m also very grateful for all either here in Estonia or elsewhere who support their wives, husbands, brothers and sisters in being prepared.

In many ways the readiness and preparedness of reserve officers is today more important than ever before. Globalization has made the world a smaller place which means that crisis and conflicts can erupt very quickly and quite unexpectedly. There are regions, including the Baltic Sea region, where early-warning-times have actually shrunk to a matter of days, not weeks or months.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 09 Aug 2019 09:00:40 +0000
Address of the President of the Republic At the XXVII Song Festival https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15333-address-of-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-xxvii-song-festival https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15333-address-of-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-xxvii-song-festival Dear people of Estonia,

Our first Song Festival took place 150 years ago. Had the Tsarist powers at the time known what the festival would do to the Estonian people, it is unlikely that it would ever have been allowed to take place. Song brings Estonians joy. Song gives Estonians courage. Song makes Estonians free.

Even when we largely only hummed along with our mouths closed, then the Song and Dance Celebrations still made us feel a bit more Estonian. We were all thinking the same when we sang – there was happiness, there was joy, there was laughter, there was tears.

True, the festivals held under Soviet occupation were scarred with foreign songs. But we also sang Koit and Isamaa. We danced the Viru waltz, and the sun sank below the horizon. We understood without saying a word. And we survived. May it sing with us here today, our past, and of course our present and our future as well!

The future of the Song Celebrations, incidentally, fidgets here before us in the front rows of the stage.

Where they tread, the earth trembles – just as our tireless dance teachers would have it, pressure step at the floor. This is the smile-dimpled world of the little Estonians today.

They are already singing about the land they love. They are also singing about the fact that happiness only comes to you when you grab it by the tail. These are the songs of Estonians: a glimmer of hope in every moment of sadness and a note of caution on even the happiest of days.

Fellow Estonians,

It is time to sing. Stand with us. Sing with us with courage! Our conductors are your conductors, and this weekend the power is entirely in their hands.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 06 Jul 2019 14:19:55 +0000
President of the Republic At the 20th anniversary and graduation ceremony of the Baltic Defence College in Tartu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15309-president-of-the-republic-at-the-20th-anniversary-and-graduation-ceremony-of-the-baltic-defence-college-in-tartu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15309-president-of-the-republic-at-the-20th-anniversary-and-graduation-ceremony-of-the-baltic-defence-college-in-tartu President Vējonis and Speaker Pranckietis, dear ministers and generals, my dear graduates

100 years ago our countries achieved statehood and independence because we found allies who were ready to help us. Only 20 years later we lost our independence – and each of our Baltic countries were alone at that point. Because back then Allied support was not structured as it is today. It wasn’t institutionally structured. And also it was not structured through a network of officers who would have studied together, speak the same language and who could have helped each country to stand up.

Nowadays we know that Allied support means that nobody can surrender alone, because there are others with whom they have exercised, trained, studied, discussed and institutionalized our defence. This is the lesson that we learned from our history which brought us together 20 years ago when we established the Baltic Defence College in 1999.
Back then it still wasn’t self-evident to everybody in the Baltic states that we’re all in this together. Nor was it self-evident to everybody in the West that the defence of Europe starts here on the coasts of the Baltic Sea.

During the last 20 years the Baltic Defence College has developed into one of the most successful Baltic cooperation projects. Because when it comes to educating general staff officers, future generals and higher civil servants, then doing things together and with our Western allies is not just one of the options, but actually the ONLY option to make sure that the necessary cooperation structure at every level is in place. It’s not just about economy of scale, but about the quality and professionalism of senior officers and leaders. Because security and military operations have today become so complex that it’s just impossible for rather small countries like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, if I may say so, to develop all the operational and strategic bicycles themselves.

But the Baltic Defence College gives more added value than just very good professional and international education to its individual graduates. Studying here together in Tartu forms long-lasting friendships and bonds between course members, between officers and civil servants of all participating countries. And I know that it’s not formed only in the class-rooms and seminar halls, but also in the bars and pubs of Tartu.

And I have also hear of a certain place in the Ida Street that many of you know very well.  Not only does it mean that all the graduates have a common understanding in planning future operations and strategic plans and about the Baltic security environment, but they also know each other on a very personal level which itself is a huge asset in doing cooperation.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 20 Jun 2019 12:08:33 +0000
President of the Republic At the opening of the Skangal battle memorial https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15308-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-the-skangal-battle-memorial https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15308-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-the-skangal-battle-memorial Dear President Vējonis, dear Estonian and Latvian soldiers,

I start with a quote: “We lost exactly a quarter of our personnel as killed and wounded in action. In an ordinary war this is considered enough to turn the whole unit unfit for further combat. But as we fought against our historical enemy, then no downturn of combat capability was noticeable. Not even after the most bitter moments.”

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ENG Kõned Sat, 22 Jun 2019 12:06:18 +0000
The President of the Republic at the Victory Day parade in Tartu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15304-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-victory-day-parade-23-june-2019-in-tartu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15304-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-victory-day-parade-23-june-2019-in-tartu Dear Defence League members, dear Estonians here in Tartu and at home,

“Once, I saw a peasant with a big beard standing by the Elva bridge, west of the railway line. He had a horse and was doling out something to those around him. I went for a closer look. On a sledge, there was a milk container of about 30 litres, containing a gravy full of bits of fatback. I was fortunate enough to partake of it myself.”

That was how young Ilmar Raamot, who fought on armoured train no. 2, described a day during the War of Independence. One hundred years ago today, there was a little more than six months remaining of the War of Independence. Six long and arduous, yet already hope-filled, months.

A soldier needs not only a rifle and cartridges to fight, but also hot meal. At the beginning of the War of Independence, our army lacked almost everything. Often it was food aid from our fellow Estonians, ordinary people, that filled the bellies of our soldiers in the first months of the war.

The War of Independence was not won just by frontline soldiers, but also by the farmer who gave a coach to the military, by the Defence League member who kept the rear in order, by the tailor who sewed uniforms for our soldiers and by the nurse who took care of the wounded. The War of Independence was won by the entire nation.

It was a collective effort, which led to our victory. Today we call such an effort by the whole society comprehensive national defence. It means that all walks of life are ready for a crisis and protecting the whole society. It means understanding how hospitals can treat everyone who needs care, even in a state of emergency. It means thinking about how we can all get fed during a crisis – as a nation that usually does not grow its own food, unlike 100 years ago.

 Today, national defence means more than preparing for a classic conventional conflict.

It is much more likely that we will experience a major power outage, a snowstorm, a flood or the derailment of a freight train with hazardous cargo. Such crises do not jeopardise Estonian independence but can cripple our citizens’ everyday life and sense of security. But Estonian security begins with every person’s own sense of security.

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ENG Kõned Sun, 23 Jun 2019 10:57:12 +0000
President of the Republic At the Gala Concert Estonia 100 and Dannebrog 800 at Estonia Concert Hall https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15283-president-of-the-republic-at-the-gala-concert-estonia-100-and-dannebrog-800-at-estonia-concert-hall https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15283-president-of-the-republic-at-the-gala-concert-estonia-100-and-dannebrog-800-at-estonia-concert-hall It is my pleasure and great honour to welcome Her Majesty Queen of Denmark in Tallinn at the year when we are celebrating the centenary of our statehood and Denmark is celebrating 800th anniversary of Dannebrog, the Danish flag so beloved by Danes.

Estonian and Danish diplomatic relations date back to 1921, but the historical connections between our people and countries go back many centuries. These contacts have been manifold. The history unites Estonians and Danes, as indeed all the seafaring peoples around the Baltic Sea.

Your Majesty´s friend President Lennart Meri began his speech during a state dinner at Fredensborg castle in 1994 with a smart and friendly note “The Danish Royal Castle is in Copenhagen, but the Garden of the Danish King is in Tallinn“. From today we also have the Danish Queen´s Garden. What could be a stronger symbol of our friendship. 100 years ago when we were fighting for our Independence, Danish volunteers helped to defend the young Estonian Republic. Denmark never recognised the Soviet occupation. You were among the first to re-establish diplomatic relations when we regained our independence. The Danish people wholeheartedly believed in us and truly supported our young independence. You had no doubts. Tusind tak!

We are close friends and likeminded Northern European countries. We share common values. We are partners in the European Union and allies in NATO. We cooperate and support each other in the United Nations. As small countries, it is in our joint interest to defend and preserve the rules based world order. We believe strongly that security goes well beyond our own national borders. This cooperation now has developed further to defending together our whole region.

Your Majesty, our people are closely interconnected in almost every field of life. Today´s concert is an excellent example of our cultural cooperation. Thank you for bringing so much culture with you during this visit.

Let us celebrate the excellent relations between our countries and enjoy the music both by Danish and Estonian musicians.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 15 Jun 2019 11:14:48 +0000
President of the Republic at the EU climate seminar in Tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15292-president-of-the-republic-at-the-eu-climate-seminar-in-tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15292-president-of-the-republic-at-the-eu-climate-seminar-in-tallinn Planet Earth formed approximately 4.6 billion years ago. If this period was re-calculated to make up one 24 hour day, then the first life forms would have been formed at around 4 AM in the morning, land plants at 10:52 PM and the brief life of the modern man would have begun just one minute before midnight. Let's think of everything we have managed to do in this brief period – regrettably, it is great deal. Within the past century alone we have had such a large and profound effect on this planet that the era has been dubbed the Anthropocene, a separate geologic time period. This is a strong and negative word.

More than a hundred years ago, Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius established the connection between CO2 concentration and temperature increase. Even then, Arrhenius understood that it is the emission of CO2 that eventually leads to climate change. However, he certainly could not have foreseen the severity of the issue humankind is facing now—one hundred years later.

In 1959, a laboratory measuring the rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere was founded on Mauna Loa. The Keeling curve for assessing concentration was born. Since then, it has become increasingly apparent that the ocean cannot absorb all human-emitted CO2 and its concentration in the atmosphere continues to grow.

How should we feel about this increase of CO2? The most sensible thing to do is to assess the effects of past periods in which CO2 concentration has increased on a non-anthropogenic basis. The Earth's paleoclimate has provided us with a wealth of valuable information which can be used to predict future processes when combined with modern climate models. One clear-cut connection we find evidence for in the past is between greenhouse gas concentration and air temperature. There has always been a correlation.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 13 Jun 2019 12:49:50 +0000
President Kersti Kaljulaid’s keynote speech at the Federation of German Industries annual meeting in Berlin https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15271-president-kersti-kaljulaid-s-keynote-speech-at-the-federation-of-german-industries-annual-meeting-in-berlin https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15271-president-kersti-kaljulaid-s-keynote-speech-at-the-federation-of-german-industries-annual-meeting-in-berlin Dear friends,

I am very happy to be back here in Germany talking once again about digital change, the digital transformation of societies. I know you already had a taste of Estonia this afternoon, but I would like to start with a little bit of history formation: how Estonia created its digital society.

I have to go back to the beginning of this century. It is very important to note that Estonia at that point was by no means a technology creating nation. It is a nation of 1.3 million people and was classed as low-middle income at that point. So, Estonia has not created and, at that point, was not creating any cutting-edge technology.

Where was then the Estonian disruptive innovation, if not in technology itself? Actually, it was in the process of bringing businesses and the government together to help all people, young and old, benefit from these technological developments invented by others. This was a smart move to create a legal space which would allow digital identity to be born. And for 18 years now, Estonians have had a digital identity. We use it to sign and time stamp contracts, all kinds of private contracts, public contracts and applications, query the registries and simply send encrypted e-mails. This function is also open for Estonian e-residents, by the way.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 03 Jun 2019 12:20:06 +0000
President of the Republic on Children’s Day in the President’s Rose Garden https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15257-president-of-the-republic-on-children-s-day-in-the-president-s-rose-garden https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15257-president-of-the-republic-on-children-s-day-in-the-president-s-rose-garden Dear children and all those working with and for children!

Happy Children’s Day to you all and welcome to Kadriorg, to this year’s presentation of the acknowledgment awards.

I just met with the champions of children to be recognised this year; you will hear about their inspiring deeds very soon. Behind their acts are stories that are mostly sad and horrible but nevertheless demonstrate solutions and hope that in the future, the number of such stories will diminish. This is what the protection of children is all about.

However, all such efforts may be in vain if we’re unable to secure for our children and grandchildren a world in which they can focus on fulfilling their dreams instead of patching up the consequences of our mistakes. For all our history, we have pursued efforts to offer our children a better life than ours. And yet in today’s world, 2.2 billion children will grow up knowing that they will have to struggle seriously with the consequences of the climate change they have inherited.

Wholesome food, good health, school education and a safe living environment – everything important for a child is being threatened by climate change. A lack of water, heat waves, a scarcity of food resulting from drought or flood. This is a reality for many children and a direct future threat for millions.

Children are most vulnerable to the consequences of climate changes. Our very own children who worry, thinking about the planet they are about to leave to their own children. Us, the grown-ups, must help you. No matter how inconvenient this may be. We must.

There’s no doubt that climate and environment in general are among the most important issues concerning the future and existence of mankind. Children have a justified expectation to be heard when issues concerning our future are discussed. UNICEF, referring to problems resulting from climate change, also emphasises the need to protect the rights of children and their justified right to be involved.

The climate strikes that have become more and more widespread in recent months represent the initiative of children themselves, their chosen method to be heard. Thousands of children have come to the streets to communicate their message. Children are making use of their justified right to be involved.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 01 Jun 2019 10:56:26 +0000
President of the Republic at the opening of CyCon 2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15241-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-cycon-2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15241-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-cycon-2019 Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests!

Thank you, Jaak, for the introduction, and thank you and your colleagues of the Cyber Defence Centre for organizing this great conference. And thank you all for coming to Tallinn yet again. I do believe that CyCon has over the years developed one of the hallmark conferences for all cyber people, and that you all come to Tallinn each year with the hope of hearing and learning something new from here. And I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

I, for one, am glad to introduce here the Estonian positions on how international law applies in cyberspace, which were approved by the Estonian Government just a couple of weeks ago. Yes, some NATO Allies and partner countries already have declared their positions on this issue. Also, we already do have the Tallinn Manuals in place, which contributed an important first step towards the analysis of this issue. We also have the reports of the UN Groups of Governmental Experts and statements by a number of international organizations. But in some ways it was actually even a little bit weird that Estonia – the forefront country of the topic – hadn’t actually drafted and approved these positions officially until now.

That was the reason why I last year convened the best cyber law experts to my office and they readily agreed that yes, with all the things considered, it’s time that we can and should compile this position. And yes, I know that there are many countries who are and will remain ambiguous on this issue, but a small state as Estonia does not have this kind of luxury in regards to international law. Because as Lennart Meri, the first post-Cold War president once famously stated – international law is the nuclear weapon of a small state.

Before introducing Estonian positions on international law in cyberspace, I believe that a short explanation is in place why this all is actually so vital for us in the first place. Most of you here might think that it is self-evident why linkage between cyber, international law and security is so important.

But if asked by a man on the street – and let’s not forget, that man is the end-user of IT products as well as part of the security that we all strive to create – then we must always remind the basics of security and international law. Let’s take, for example, NATO and the conventional domain.

During the 70-year history of NATO no Ally has actually been conventionally attacked or lost its sovereignty. That’s because NATO’s collective defence posture – at least in the conventional domain – has been and will remain to be a credible deterrent. Nobody still dares to cross NATO as the consequences would be known, clear and devastating.

And if we think of some of the basic tenets of the international law system, then yes, international law and organizations have not been able to end all wars and aggressions, but everybody clearly knows that when you breach international law then it will be taken up for sure in the UN Security Council. And it always has consequences and therefore also acts as a deterrent.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 29 May 2019 05:07:38 +0000
President of the Republic at the Tallinn e-Governance Conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15224-president-of-the-republic-at-the-tallinn-e-governance-conference-2019-21-may-2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15224-president-of-the-republic-at-the-tallinn-e-governance-conference-2019-21-may-2019 Dear friends!

There are some familiar faces, but also a lot of new faces sitting in here and interested to understand how can current technologies could help public sectors globally.

Last year we celebrated a milestone in global Internet usage – more than half of the mankind is a regular Internet user with the fastest growth in Africa, followed by Middle-East and Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 2018 one minute in internet means 185 million e-mails, 38 million messages, 18 million text messages and almost one million dollars spent online.

This growth also means, that internet uses close to 15% of global electrical energy with environmental footprint unfortunately as big as aviation industry. We also need to be responsible in recognising these issues, because we know that the climate change is The Issue globally. After all, all the discussion about digital societies only makes sense and is not short term if we can solve the climate change.  

Let´s take for example education, health-care, national economy or even more narrow spectrum of the services as population registry, marriage registration, customs and tax authorities vary in the legislative and institutional setup. Therefore we also need to create tailor-made solutions and consider the local culture when we want to digitalize these services. This is different when we compare what we can currently get from the big companies. For smaller companies it is easier to work with governments for tailor-made solutions.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 21 May 2019 15:08:03 +0000
President of the Republic at the Lennart Meri Conference dinner https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15216-president-of-the-republic-at-the-lennart-meri-conference-dinner-17-may-2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15216-president-of-the-republic-at-the-lennart-meri-conference-dinner-17-may-2019 Ladies and gentlemen, dear ministers and friends,

I’m very glad to see you all here in Tallinn again. The participants of the Lennart Meri Conference are united by the values and worldview that we share, never mind if it’s on this or the other side of the Atlantic.

There are sometimes even visible traces of common group-think among us, which itself might always not be the best of things. But we are all in this together – very much like the crew of a submarine.

I want you to think for a moment what it feels like to be at sea – or to be more precise – under water with this kind of vessel. Those of you with naval or maritime experience know that when the boat is submerged then its crew is virtually blind.

They can only use its sensors or a very narrow view offered by the periscope to see, or rather sense what’s on the surface. But what does amplify under water, is the sound, all the voices and all the noise which water carries all too well.

In many ways this describes where we stand today with our Europe, with our European Union. If we listen to the sounds and voices through the hydrophones then it might sometimes feel that doom and almost certain destruction is very near.

In our political submarine, sounds of populism, protectionism and unilateralism seem to be pulling this Union of ours apart. It makes us all worry, and worry for a very good reason. Because some people and politicians seem to have forgotten where these tendencies took Europe 80 years ago and many times before that.

They are playing with the fire they can easily ignite, but may themselves find hard to control or put out. We know that the real damage can be done, as has already been demonstrated – we are observing a Brexiting UK which does not seem to find a suitable way to Brexit.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 17 May 2019 04:35:26 +0000
President of the Republic at the dinner in the honor of the Official Visit on the President of Georgia Mrs Salome Zourabishvili https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15209-president-of-the-republic-at-the-dinner-in-the-honor-of-the-official-visit-on-the-president-of-georgia-mrs-salome-zourabishvili https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15209-president-of-the-republic-at-the-dinner-in-the-honor-of-the-official-visit-on-the-president-of-georgia-mrs-salome-zourabishvili Your Excellency,
Speaker of the Parliament, Prime Minister,
Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

President Zourabishvili, dear colleague,

It’s a great pleasure to have you in Estonia. It’s always wonderful to meet and to be with friends. It’s even more wonderful that Georgia is among those nations with whom we don’t need constantly to reassure that we are friends.

Small, hardworking nations, whose right for freedom and choosing freely their own allies is not always self-evident to the big powers, tend to understand each other without words. This close relationship and mutual understanding goes back to late 19th century when first Estonians moved to villages of Estonka, Salme and Sulev. And when Georgian students came to study at Tartu University.

Georgia has always been for us a country that appreciates freedom. For example, one of the first acquaintances Estonians had with Georgian literature was through your desire for freedom. In 1896 the poem “Spring” or “Gasaphuli” by the hero of Georgia’s national movement, Ilia Chavchavadze, was translated and published in our newspaper.

The words go:

Õiemeri nagu lina
Katab sind, Kaukaasia
Millal õitsma lähed sina,
Minu kallis kodumaa?

For Ilia Chavchavadze and his contemporaries Georgia could freely blossom at the same time as Estonia, in 1918. The leaders of Georgian Democratic Republic, among whom also your ancestors were active, wished to create a state that was based on justice and law.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 16 May 2019 13:50:54 +0000
President of the Republic at Latitude59 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15222-president-of-the-republic-at-latitude59 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15222-president-of-the-republic-at-latitude59 Dear guests of Latitude59!

It was only two years ago when I explained to you why and how we created our digital state and society in Estonia. What the digitally disrupted society looks like and how it normally works, and what happens in a society if it does not work– this will be discussed today.

Two years is a long time in tech development.

Firstly, two years ago the share of the IT sector in Estonian GDP was slightly above 4%. Now it is 7%, and may I assure you, the GDP has not been shrinking, it has been growing, so the trend of growth in this sector has been particularly strong. We are growing not so much here in Estonia, but globally. Estonia is now growing globally also in Africa unexpectedly well – Africa is the continent looking to leapfrog and is not held back by frozen structures.

And very importantly for Estonian companies – this is not a continent saturated with big companies who come with their solutions and say ‘please adapt your needs to my solutions’. No. They are open to the Estonian way of thinking – that everything, particularly when you deal with the e-government and public e-services, has to be tailor-made because this preserves the culture.

Estonian companies are well-viewed abroad because Estonians lack work-force. Therefore, they forge partnerships with local SMEs because they are tiny themselves by global standards. This makes it a very good example of the 21st century win-win development of economic cooperation, where you take a respectful view of the need to develop the economy of the country in which you are selling your services.

Thank you, all Estonian IT companies for being a great example of this international trade and development. I am so proud of you all! If you would join me in applause for Estonian tech companies working abroad, please.

I promised to tell you what happens if the digital society faces a hitch and cannot function properly.  In the second half of 2017, Estonia fell victim to the famous chip problem of an international company – I am too polite to name this company – but it provides chips for identity cards, not only here in Estonia but in many other countries.  Also, for similar functional cards.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 16 May 2019 08:45:24 +0000
President of the Republic at the Annual Congress of the Estonian Federation of Journalists https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15200-president-of-the-republic-at-the-annual-congress-of-the-estonian-federation-of-journalists https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15200-president-of-the-republic-at-the-annual-congress-of-the-estonian-federation-of-journalists Dear journalists,

First of all, I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to the Estonian Association of Journalists, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. A mere year after the establishment of the Republic of Estonia in the winter of 1918, the Association of Journalists was also founded.

This shows that free speech and national freedom went hand-in-hand right from the start. Our later history also shows that one cannot exist without the other. 

I am very happy to welcome you, delegates of the European Association of Journalists, here in Tallinn. I hope that you had an eventful day yesterday and that the conference will leave you with some time to see the city, network and develop a wish to return.

For Estonians, freedom of speech and national freedom are almost synonymous. Once, during the occupation, a poem was published in which the first letters of its lines spelled ‘sinimustvalge’ – blue, black and white. The colours of our banned flag.

Estonians noticed it, of course, and snickered at the poor censor who had missed such a simple and obvious detail. Such clear manifestations of the fact that we had not forgotten our country were, of course, few and far between.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 10 May 2019 09:12:42 +0000
President of the Republic at the dispatch of the ESTPLA-31 infantry platoon at Tapa Army Base https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15158-president-of-the-republic-at-the-dispatch-of-the-estpla-31-infantry-platoon-at-tapa-army-base-24-april-2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15158-president-of-the-republic-at-the-dispatch-of-the-estpla-31-infantry-platoon-at-tapa-army-base-24-april-2019 Dear servicemen and family members, Lieutenant Kelder,

I have promised to always be present when it’s about the freedom and security of Estonia. Your work, even in distant Afghanistan, is always about maintaining the freedom and increasing the security of Estonia. Coming to meet you before you go is the least I could do as the President of the Republic. Because I also worry about and feel responsible for you.

I know that the majority of this unit is made up of the combat engineers platoon of the Scoutsbattalion. To symbolise this, we stand next to the most powerful examples of your units equipment, including this bridgelayer. I know very well that you will not be taking this bridgelayer with you to Afghanistan. And anyway, combat engineers very often blow things up instead. However, indirectly you are also building bridges even in distant Afghanistan. One of the most important bridges that you figuratively help to build is the bridge between the Estonia and our Allies.

This bridge is already very strong today and manifests itself, among other things, in the Allied battle group here at Tapa and the fighter jets that police our skies but also in NATO’s defence plans that are constantly becoming more detailed. Believe me when I say that this bridge would not be as strong and impressive as it is today if it were not for your 3000 brothers in arms, our current veterans.

The fact that the bridge between Estonia and its allies is strong today does not mean that we should no longer take good care of and continue to reinforce it. For a small country, international cooperation and contribution is as important as developing self-defence capability.

This was already taught to us by General Einseln, our first post-war Chief of Defence. Because we remember very painfully what happened 80 years ago when we let the former bridges rust and slowly fall apart.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 26 Apr 2019 12:15:01 +0000
President of the Republic at the Carolin Illenzeer Foundation charity dinner https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15157-president-of-the-republic-at-the-carolin-illenzeer-foundation-charity-dinner-22-april-2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15157-president-of-the-republic-at-the-carolin-illenzeer-foundation-charity-dinner-22-april-2019 Honoured Vice-President of the Riigikogu and ministers, dear veterans and everyone present,
“Only fighters can win” said Vello Salo, member of the Finnish Boys infantry regiment, clergyman, cultural figure, but above all, a great humanist, who passed away the night before last. ‘Fighting’ and ‘victory’ – these are big and harsh words but rather appropriate to talk about tonight.

Vello Salo could not fight for Estonia in Estonian uniform. He was robbed of this opportunity by the situation in which Estonia found itself in 1939. The already fragile system of international relations had collapsed under the right of the powerful, and Estonia suddenly found itself without allies.

Father Vello, as he was called, did manage to see the victory of 1991 and the triumph of justice. Today, Estonians can defend and serve their country in Estonian uniform as, Estonian soldiers. For 3000 of our servicemen, serving Estonia has meant fighting in foreign missions. This has been Estonia’s conscious choice and decision for nearly a quarter of a century.
Under General Einseln – our first post-war Chief of Defence, the two pillars of the Estonian security – certain resistance in the event of an attack and never standing alone again – gained a very practical, military meaning right from the beginning of our independence. The decision on the formation of the Estonian Peacekeeping Company in 1994 was made during a time at which only a few years had passed since the restoration of our independence and the creation of the Estonian Defence Forces. Dozens of objective reasons could have been found why we should not have rushed with such a nice-to-have thing. From the need first build primary self-defence capability to the Russian armed forces that were still in the country at the time. However, General Einseln was consistent in stressing that today’s wars are not fought alone. Victories are not won alone. Security does not depend solely on our own bravery. Our allies, who are our allies because they share our values, can help us more easily during times of hardship if we are seen as the provider rather than the consumer of security.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 26 Apr 2019 12:13:47 +0000
At the opening of the renovated Estonian Embassy in Moscow https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15133-at-the-opening-of-the-renovated-estonian-embassy-in-moscow https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15133-at-the-opening-of-the-renovated-estonian-embassy-in-moscow Welcome everybody to the freshly renovated Estonian Embassy—what a beautiful building it is!

Dear guests,

Estonian Embassy has been here on Malõi Kislovski street since 1921. It is the oldest embassy of the Estonian Republic. Being by the way the first European diplomatic mission in Bolshevik Russia and its new capital.

Our diplomatic relations with our neighbour were established a year earlier, so in 10 months’ time we can celebrate the centenary of diplomatic relations with Russia. We should congratulate ourselves on this.

What makes our Embassy here in the heart of Moscow special, is the fact that it is our first diplomatic mission. It is natural that your first diplomatic mission goes to your neighbour

History has given the former mansion of a book merchant that became a diplomatic mission of a newly independent country many faces. 

Even though history has not been gentle towards this mission, as it slipped from the possession of free Estonia during World War Two, it has always been in the hands of Estonians and been our representation. Just our blue-black-white flag disappeared from the flag pole, as well as three lions from our coat of arm.  The paint peeled off, the hope remained.

New winds brought new additions to the Kalashnõi street where our biggest consular section is located and where our good neighbours  are Dutch and Japanese.

But this building is not just a diplomatic outpost. It is also a home to our diplomats and administrative personnel and their children. I would like to use this opportunity to thank you all for your hard work in representing Estonia in Russia both in the field of politics but also culture. The latter being an area that has been kept the relationship going when times have been difficult.

And of course, my thank you also goes to the consular section –I know it is not easy work, especially ahead of big and long public holidays like New Year’s Eve and Orthodox Christmas.

Russian tourists make up  a big bulk of tourists visiting Estonia each year. If I am not mistaken then only Finns are ahead of them, at least in numbers.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 18 Apr 2019 09:30:51 +0000
The President of the Republic at the opening session of the XIV Riigikogu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15108-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-session-of-the-xiv-riigikogu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15108-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-session-of-the-xiv-riigikogu Dear people of Estonia, dear members of the 14th Riigikogu,

Let us be honest: we are facing complicated times. As has been the case throughout the history of our country.

Our place on the map and our population size inevitably tend to keep matters complicated for us at all times. It is easy to make mistakes, and as one of the smallest European countries, we will never have enough strategic depth to be certain that mistakes will not threaten our survival.

Therefore, we must be sincere when assessing our situation and all together sincerely seek the best future for Estonia. All together, for all the people of Estonia, for all Estonians and all others who also hold Estonia dear.

I very much agree with those who say that this house that we have hastily managed to build in 30 years has quite a nice view from the penthouse and is tastefully furnished. But the sun does not shine into every room. I understand those who would like to tear this building down and start all over, hoping that there will be a sunnier corner for them in the new one.

The development of our society in the last 30 years, in which we have managed to regain about half the 50-year economic lag that we developed due to the occupation, has been a success story.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 04 Apr 2019 06:13:30 +0000
Tallinn Music Week reception at the Estonian Academy of Arts https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15141-tallinn-music-week-2019-estonian-academy-of-arts https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15141-tallinn-music-week-2019-estonian-academy-of-arts 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.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 29 Mar 2019 11:28:48 +0000
At the 70th anniversary of the March Deportation at the Maarjamäe Memorial https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15094-at-the-70th-anniversary-of-the-march-deportation-at-the-maarjamaee-memorial https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15094-at-the-70th-anniversary-of-the-march-deportation-at-the-maarjamaee-memorial My fellow Estonians,

March 1949 was crisp and snowy. In many of our homes, the wait for spring was cut short by evil knocking on our doors.

In exile, Kalju Lepik penned the following lines:

A sleeping baby torn from a cot,
from father’s arms, the tiny tot.
Father laid to rest in the ground –
where anger is the colour of woe,
where woe is the colour of snow.
No crosses on anyone’s graves.
Rushing and rattling on rails.
To whom can I this evil lament,
for evil to receive torment?

For over 20,000 people, this March day 70 years ago meant the end of life as they knew it. Babes in arms and grandparents, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters were taken from their homes –without mercy.

The same as in June 1941 and in the intermediate and later years of hardship. Because they were taken all the time. Mother and fathers from the street. It could happen every day.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 25 Apr 2018 03:58:05 +0000
General Statement at the Second UN High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15075-general-statement-at-the-second-un-high-level-conference-on-south-south-cooperation https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15075-general-statement-at-the-second-un-high-level-conference-on-south-south-cooperation Excellencies, Distinguished Heads of States and Governments, Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Firstly, let me thank Argentina for hosting the Second United Nations High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation. Thank you also for a warm welcome here in Buenos Aires.

South-South cooperation has just reached an important milestone – 40 years since the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Promoting and Implementing Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries.

At the time, it created a milestone platform for sharing experiences between developing countries.

We can even say, it was an innovative endeavour. But we have come a long way since 1978. We acknowledge that many countries have similar development concerns, circumstances and contexts – historical, political, economic, environmental and social.

Therefore, South-South and triangular cooperation have become an inseparable part of the bigger development cooperation architecture.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 20 Mar 2019 06:35:15 +0000
President of the Republic at The Brookings Institution https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15058-president-of-the-republic-at-the-brookings-institution https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15058-president-of-the-republic-at-the-brookings-institution Ladies and Gentlemen, General Allen, my dear American friends

Thank you for your welcome, and thank you, Brookings Institution, for hosting us! The work that you do on advancing our understanding of the world, and recognizing the importance of international engagement, is of utmost importance. So thank you also for everything that you are doing to deepen Trans-Atlantic thinking.

For 20 years, since I was the advisor to Estonian prime minister on economic affairs, I have been to Washington on occasion, for IMF annual meets and various other reasons. I never pass the opportunity to visit the Mall. The Jefferson Memorial, where I again and again re-read the excerpts from the American Declaration of Independence that are displayed on its walls. The Roosevelt memorial, with apt, yet somehow painful descriptions on how we as societies are with hope that we can make ourselves better, if we put aside fear. And now, as a late addition, the powerful redeclaration of human rights – the Martin Luther King memorial.

I remember a warm autumn day 19 years ago when I walked on the Mall and again read the thoughts displayed on the walls of these monuments. Then I told myself – this is the place you have to always remember, should life bring you among the decision makers in politics. I grew up in occupied Estonia, and instinctively knew that the freedoms we gained the day the Soviet rule broke down were the biggest and fastest change in the quality of my life and the lives of my compatriots.

Bigger than all the following economic growth, which of course, could only happen when people were free. This is where I think that some countries go wrong – they think they can have economic growth without freedom, but actually they can’t.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 13 Mar 2019 15:22:53 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the North Star AI conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15048-president-kaljulaid-at-the-north-star-ai-conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15048-president-kaljulaid-at-the-north-star-ai-conference I have to start far away in history to help you understand what Estonia is today. It was the year 1987 and a bunch of Estonian school kids had access to really good computer power in the Institute of Cybernetics in Tallinn. I must remind you, then it was still Soviet Union. When using this computer, it functioned like a big processor and the access was provided by separate screens. While we were creating our little programs, we realized that some of us managed to create programs, which the big processors seemed to process quicker than the others. This led us to try and figure out, how we could one day create solutions to our problems which will actually outrace the other people gaining from the same resource in the same processor by making it more likeable and more comfortable for a computer to solve these problems. We had huge debates about whether computers can feel and how long it would take before the computers started to feel.

This was 1987. One of us later became the father of the Estonian e-voting system, one the youngest ever academician in the Estonian Academy of Sciences in computer sciences and the third one is me. There was also a fourth one, but unfortunately, I do not know what became of him.

You are in the country where politicians really get it – most of us know what is automatic, what is autonomous, what is narrow AI and singularity. It is not very common I can assure you among head of states, but here it is.

The reason is that twenty years ago in Estonia we realized that if we do what other developed countries do, then we will never catch up with the living standards of others. They said that if we simply do what others do then we will be as good as they are. We said: “Hold on!” We would have been slow followers. Even if we would have been quick followers we still would not have been able to catch up. We decided that we needed to do things differently.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 08 Mar 2019 13:05:34 +0000
On Estonian Independence Day in Tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14993-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-independence-day-estonia-theatre-and-concert-hall-24-february-2019 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14993-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-independence-day-estonia-theatre-and-concert-hall-24-february-2019 My dear Estonians! Happy Independence Day!
In the winter 100 years ago, our War of Independence was sweeping across Estonia.

Snow fell, a cold snow fell.
— Why are bright lights driving there,
thick feathery snowflakes suspended in air? —
The crowd was silent, the cheerful crowd silent.
Did you say the trucks come from the railroad,
bringing bloodied soldiers from the railroad,
young men, young women?

Hendrik Visnapuu’s poem speaks of city dwellers’ merry path going either to or from the opera intersecting with those, whose duty it was to fight in the First World War.

Snow fell, a white snow fell.
A resolute notion grappled within.
A wordless cry among the din,
heard by the hour, heard by the night-time hour.
Pain in their step from the opera home,
amid white snow falling they went home,
young men, young women.

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ENG Kõned Sun, 24 Feb 2019 14:17:05 +0000
President of the Republic at the Ceremony for Awarding Decorations in Arvo Pärt Centre https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14986-president-of-the-republic-at-the-ceremony-for-awarding-decorations-2 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14986-president-of-the-republic-at-the-ceremony-for-awarding-decorations-2 Dear recipients,

Before I say anything else I feel I should point out that the awarding of decorations is not to some fixed, immutable plan. The more worthy candidates are nominated by people in Estonia, the more people there are whose work and activities we can turn our thoughts to in the lead-up to the anniversary of our republic.

This year there are 112 recipients of the decorations. This number was not decided on in advance: it simply turned out that way. At the same time, it is rather symbolic – among your ranks are many of those whose contribution is felt when people pick up their phones and dial 1-1-2, or indeed who do what they do to ensure that there is no need to call the emergency services in the first place.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 22 Feb 2019 10:25:16 +0000
At the high-level meeting on digital issues within the framework of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14946-president-kaljulaid-at-the-high-level-meeting-on-digital-issues-within-the-framework-of-the-assembly-of-the-african-union-in-addis-ababa https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14946-president-kaljulaid-at-the-high-level-meeting-on-digital-issues-within-the-framework-of-the-assembly-of-the-african-union-in-addis-ababa Thank you for inviting me. I begun this speech in French, because multilingualism is very important for Estonians, since Estonia is a small country with only 1,3 million people.

I am telling you a story of a country, which 30 years ago was poor and living under the level of extreme poverty. This country had just regained its independence and we were told by all to follow their example. To do what they have been doing before. “Don’t worry, do just like we do and then you will catch up with us.” We, the young government of our country, realized that it cannot be true.  If you are doing exactly the same things that others have been doing before you, then you are never going to catch up. We realized that we must do things differently.

Here in this continent I see a smart start-up continent. I am relying on our own experience. No one considered us smart and start-up. We proved them wrong. I know you are smart and start-up. 30 years from now everybody will look with admiration at this start-up continent, which has developed quickly thanks to embracing the new technologies. I am sure this will come true.

Back to my own country. What did we have 30 years ago? We had nothing, no tax offices, no government offices; no bank offices .We had nothing. While our people wanted services like everyone everywhere and while we are a country, which is not densely populated.

Banks were already going online and offering digital services. First internet banking services in Europe came online in 1996-1997. Yes, they were tiny compared to what we have today, but they were there. We talked to our banks and said, what if … Well, we need to collect taxes and nobody wants to see the taxman.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 11 Feb 2019 11:39:55 +0000
President of the Republic At the 30th Anniversary of Tallink Group https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14940-president-of-the-republic-at-the-30th-anniversary-of-tallink-group https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14940-president-of-the-republic-at-the-30th-anniversary-of-tallink-group 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.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 01 Feb 2019 06:24:06 +0000
At the Conference ‘A Century of the Estonian Official Language’ https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15394-at-the-conference-a-century-of-the-estonian-official-language https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15394-at-the-conference-a-century-of-the-estonian-official-language Honourable language enthusiasts!

The last one hundred years of the Estonian language have been very wide-ranging. Jubilant, on the one hand, as some point out that the first Estonian-language university was established and Estonian became the official state language, to name just two important beginnings out of many. We have had the opportunity to freely debate our language policy and make independent language choices before the occupation as well as since independence was restored.

However, there were also very critical times in which we had to defend our own language from strong outer pressure over a very long length of time. That period brought us back together around our language. Think for example how great of a national undertaking it was to draft and pass a language law thirty years ago.

The last one hundred years have shaped our present attitudes. We should remember these experiences, but at the same time, we must not get too stuck in them.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 24 Jan 2019 10:47:21 +0000
At the ÉNA Course for Higher Public Officials in France https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14807-competitive-advantages-of-the-eu-how-to-use-them-for-managing-the-21st-century https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14807-competitive-advantages-of-the-eu-how-to-use-them-for-managing-the-21st-century Ladies and gentlemen!

Somewhere ahead is a bifurcation point. Either we will conquer climate change, or we will not. Unless we take radical steps, climate change will be uncontainable, and certainly irreversible.

Technological advances are tackling the problem, but in the absence of a global political effort, the trickling down of this change to every CO2 emitter is too slow and also economically painful. Taxing CO2 emissions sends the market the right signal, but obviously frustrates small-scale consumers, including petrol-station customers in rural France who are unable to change their energy source. They can only change their consumption. The big shift depends on us, the politicians.

Still, we have not managed to add any serious grid capacity that would bring solar energy from southern Europe to the north and send wind energy in the opposite direction. We have done nothing to truly harvest offshore wind and wave energy. We have simply been politically lazy in the face of a realizing daunting risk.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 23 Jan 2019 08:36:13 +0000
New Year’s Eve Address in Pärnu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14795-new-year-s-eve-message-from-the-president-of-the-republic https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14795-new-year-s-eve-message-from-the-president-of-the-republic Dear residents of Pärnu, beloved people of Estonia!
Long live Pärnu, the birthplace of Estonian independence!

In just a few minutes, we will give the Republic of Estonia’s centenary year a cordial send-off and ring in a year dedicated to the Estonian language. Although the centenary year is packing up its tent, the celebrations of our beloved republic’s birthday will last for some time to come.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 31 Dec 2018 19:17:52 +0000
President Kaljulaid introducing the lecture of Prof Jeffrey Sachs in the Bank of Estonia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14791-president-kaljulaid-introducing-the-lecture-of-prof-jeffrey-sachs-in-the-bank-of-estonia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14791-president-kaljulaid-introducing-the-lecture-of-prof-jeffrey-sachs-in-the-bank-of-estonia Members of the staff of the Bank of Estonia, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, guests.

It is an honour to be in this hall, which bears the name the Independence Hall of the Bank of Estonia. I do not know if there are any other countries where the desires of the people to be independent and to have their own money have been as strongly linked as they have in Estonia, because without our own money we would never have been able to regain our independence.

The first Estonian money was born 100 years ago during the War of Independence. The costs of the war were very high. In the first months of 1919 the military campaign was costing a million marks a day and the government was running out of money. There was naturally no hope of getting a large foreign loan under such circumstances.

The first rapid steps towards having our own money were taken in January 1919 by the Minister of Finance of the time Juhan Kukk – whose bust is here in this Independence Hall – when he proposed using as currency the short-term state treasury notes that had already been issued at a rate of 5% interest. Of course, the government and the people did not really consider such debt notes as real money.

Fortunately, at the same time that these promissory notes started to be used, preparations were being made to issue a real national currency into circulation. The decision to call the first Estonian currency the mark was taken on 9 December 1918.

Eesti Pank was founded in February 1919 and in May the same year the provisional government of the time passed a regulation that the only legal means of payment was the Estonian mark.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 17 Dec 2018 07:00:26 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the Memorial Event for British Soldiers Who Perished in Estonia's War of Independence https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14754-president-kaljulaid-vabadussojas-hukkunud-briti-meremeeste-maelestamisel-kaitsevaee-kalmistul https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14754-president-kaljulaid-vabadussojas-hukkunud-briti-meremeeste-maelestamisel-kaitsevaee-kalmistul Dear British friends, officers and sailors of St Albans!

Today we commemorate the arrival of the Royal Navy to Tallinn. From our point of view this event had groundbreaking consequences to the very dire situation that Estonia was facing 100 years ago. The Estonian army was back then still retreating towards Tallinn. And there was very little that we could have done at that point to protect the Estonian capital from the still vast Baltic fleet of Soviet Russia. The British fleet changed the whole strategic situation in the Gulf of Finland, secured our capital from the sea. And what’s most important – it gave the Estonian soldiers and people hope, that we are not alone in this fight. The commander-in-chief of the Estonian army General Johan Laidoner has himself stated that from that moment on he also felt that this war can be won, this war is worth fighting.

This also reflects how we guard our security and our values today – alongside with our Allies. The United Kingdom, Danish and French troops are represented in the NATO Battle Group in Estonia. Most NATO members have sent their fighters to police the Estonian and Baltic air space. International exercises and port-visits of Allied navies have become a routine affair, as have Estonian servicemen serving on international military operations in Africa, Middle-East and in Asia.  

But freedom and security is never given, it is never free. The highest price is always payed by men and women in uniform to whom we have delegated the heavy responsibility to protect us, to keep us safe. So let us today commemorate these more than 100 British sailors and airmen who perished in the Estonian War of Independence. Who died not only for the freedom and security of the Estonians, but also for the freedom and security of Europe.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 13 Dec 2018 07:56:19 +0000
President Kaljulaid at Columbia University https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14790-president-kaljulaid-at-columbia-university https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14790-president-kaljulaid-at-columbia-university Dear students and everybody present,

First thank you for the introduction and for creating a link between this wonderful university and Estonia. Indeed, we cooperate a lot and we are grateful and happy that you keep coming to our country to seek inspiration for the 21st century. Frankly speaking, globally there is no other digital nation that has a state, or the full support of a state the way Estonian people have. Therefore, Estonia is indeed the place to come.

You mentioned Skype, which is a very old-fashioned way to talk about Estonia. That is the ancient time when Estonia only had one unicorn per million people. That is roughly the density you have in San Francisco. Now we have four unicorns per million people – we have three more. While we are one million. Something in Estonia is breeding these unicorns, and obviously, this cannot be simply because it is our fate. There has to be a specific reason.

I am asked a lot what this specific reason is. Everybody knows that Estonia is digital. That may be the reason why we breed unicorns. On the other hand, it does not tell anybody anything about why Estonia of all places is a digital state. Moreover, why nobody else is.

This goes back to the time when we regained our independence thirty years ago. We had been occupied for fifty years, during which time this wonderful country never recognised our occupation. Our Prime Minister in Exile, who was also a former ambassador from the viewpoint of the Soviet Union, but the ambassador forever from the viewpoint of the government of the United States, became the dean of the diplomatic corps here, because he remained the oldest for a long time, to the chagrin of the Soviet Union. We are very proud of this part of history.

Getting back to when we regained our independence—we had lost fifty years. We always compare ourselves to the Scandinavian countries – Finland is our closest neighbour, we speak almost the same language and they are one of the most developed countries globally by every index. This was our benchmark and this is where we thought we would be if occupation had not happened. Of course everybody tells you when you have freshly regained your independence and you are very poor – our average income was about 30 dollars per month, thirty years later it is 1300 – everybody tells you to do like we did and you will catch up. I accept that if we are talking about liberal democratic values, freedom of speech and rule-of-law-state all of this applies. However, for the economic catch-up this is deeply wrong. Because if you do what others have been doing before you, you will never catch up. This was common knowledge that the IMF, World Bank and all other advisers did not preach.

Nevertheless, we were sane enough to see for ourselves that the early industrializers gained the most jobs and income; late industrializers gained fewer jobs and less income. So what is the point of doing exactly as everybody else has been doing? Instead, we did a monetary reform, which the IMF strongly advised against. They said that you cannot succeed, nobody has done it this way. We said: “Exactly, we would be the first do it this way.” We did. Guess what? Two years later, what does the IMF do? Well, it trots around the globe and says: “Do it like the Estonians.” It is very rare to have experiments in social sciences, but we did. There are three Baltic States. Latvia and Lithuania accepted the IMF’s suggestions. Two years later they realised they had lost two years. We had given our people a stable currency more quickly and foreign direct investments started to come in more quickly, because they believed our pledge that we have a currency board and a law which ensures a balanced budget. Therefore, the currency board became sustainable; otherwise, the currency board is unsustainable in long term. We made it sustainable by a simple innovation.

Next came the tax system. Well, there the situation was such that everybody was advising everyone to do a proportional tax system and tax all kinds of income – rents, salaries, capital gains – in a similar way. However, nobody was implementing it. Therefore, we did. We implemented it. It has been copied and followed a lot. It led us to scrap corporate income tax totally, which kept foreign direct investment flows coming in.

By now our salaries were rising very quickly and cohering with the European level, because we are part of the European Union and the single market. Then we were not, but we did agree on the free trade agreement, because we were a country acceding to the European Union. However, we realised that there has to be something else. Remember, we were seeking to catch up, meaning we were seeking to leap-frog. We were looking what there was on the horizon for technologies. The way we saw it, the world was moving in two big streams of technological development – one was natural sciences, genetic engineering; and the other was digital. Genetic engineering has not actually reached the levels we thought. I have a degree in genetics myself. In the early 1990s, we and everybody who was writing articles in serious journals thought that by the turn of the century we would be able to clone a dog, and a human being by 2020. Well, this has not happened. That is why I take with a pinch of salt the thought that by 2020 we would have singular artificial intelligence. I do not believe it. I think it will take a lot longer, if we will get there at all. In genetic engineering we still cannot even make a virus properly.

We realised that these are the technological streams and we thought, how could we, as a nation, benefit from that? Therefore, we created the Estonian Genome Law. Iceland has it, Estonia has it. This made it possible to analyse people’s genetic information, make sure that the data is private, nobody can access it in personalised format, but in an impersonalised format, scientists and businesses can use it. Why did we do it? Because we thought that everybody would soon be doing it, because there has to be preventive medicine and some medicines do not work on everybody, you have to know your genetic code. Also, we were poor. We knew that if you wait until everybody starts doing it, we cannot provide this service to our people. So we decided that we would be smart in the legal space-setting, which has been our strength since the monetary reform. We created the Estonian Genome Law and the Genome Foundation. Now there are no countries globally where the government finances from the state budget the opportunity for people to know their risk markers and therefore act accordingly. It saves lives in cancer treatment, hypertension, cardiac risks, all this. You have to do it without knowing what the benefits would be – economic benefits, social benefits. We were able to do it, because our back was against the wall. We had to do it, because what if this big thing would be the next big thing and we are not able to offer it to our people?

Same with digital. Digital is simply better known because it is more widely spread and digital technology development has been considerably quicker than biotechnologies. It is easier to understand as well, because it comes to our fingertips, whereas this laboratory stuff is in laboratories and we know less about it.

Digital was the same. We had to innovate, because our people were not used to many things, for example paying taxes. They were not used to paying taxes because in the Soviet Union you did not have a salary and you did not have to pay taxes. So there were no tax offices and people did not know how to do it. One option was to create a tax office in every small town, which might still be a hundred kilometres for some people. After all, Estonia is a country the size of the Netherlands but with one million people. The other option was to do the same as what was being done in banking. Banks were already offering online services in 1997. So we thought, as everybody knows in America—nobody wants to see the tax man. You have not yet got there, but we decided in our country not to introduce the tax man to anybody. We did not know him before and you did not have to. The tax board went online in 1997, because we wanted to raise the proportion of people who happily pay their taxes. They are able to do it without the administrative burden. Taxes are not high in Estonia, for heaven’s sake. Still, you do not want to take the trouble to queue, file your declaration, whatever, and then pay. In addition, of course, we built our system up this way that most people actually get some money back when they declare their taxes. We made a promise that in five days you would get your money back if you have declared online, which got people flocking online, because they knew they would get money back. You have rebates for children, rebates for home loans in Estonia, all this comes back to you as soon as you declare your taxes. Later on, if you have declared wrongly, I mean, these things have to be dealt with and settled separately. However, if you are honest and you cannot make calculation errors, because the electronic tax board, every time somebody pays you something, salaries, it is always there. I can look now, in September, and see what my tax declaration as of January to November looks like. I mean, exactly everything is there, nothing is missing, all royalties, salaries, everything is visible. So all I do is sign. Nothing else. The only thing I have to decide is who gets the children’s tax refund, my husband or me. If we declare together, even that does not apply.

This is what we wanted to give our people. We also save many personnel costs and administrative costs from doing this. The cost of gathering taxes is extremely low in Estonia. This was 1997.

Our banks noticed that this government for unknown reasons is not falling behind the private sector technologically. The unknown reason was that we simply did not know that public sectors are expected to fall behind the private sector technologically. I was there, I was advising the Prime Minister and we created the paperless government. This is more visible to foreigners than the tax board. It was a simple file management system every private company had—intranet and file management system, nothing else. It was called a paperless government and the government meeting room had no papers whatsoever. Journalists from foreign media came in and asked questions that sounded stupid to us, for example who is pushing buttons for the ministers. I mean, come on, a minister is not supposed to be stupider than a CEO? We absolutely did not understand.

Maybe that is why there were the right things in technology for us. In Estonia we have not created an artificial divide between the public and private sectors. You do not get a pension from the private sector for staying there for 30 years. The pension system is universal. We do not have corporate pensions either, we have stay-as-you-go and second and third pillars run by private banks but organised by the state as a system. Nobody loses out by going from private to public. I was advising the Prime Minister, as I said, but I came from investment banking. Our digital adviser also came from the private sector and we did not really think that the government is expected to be slower. At that moment we did not think that all the governments would be as backwards in digital uptake as they really are. We thought that we might get five years of advantage. In addition, if we play it as we were playing it with our Genome Law, we may get private sector companies interested in developing digital stuff in Estonia for a fraction of the cost they would later demand from the other governments to set these services up in other countries. So again, what we did was we created the legal space necessary to offer digital services. To remind you—we already had one public service online. Many governments either left digital things alone or they regulated it for somebody external. We were regulating for ourselves while we were creating our legal space for digital technologies.

This legal space is our difference from other countries. The legal space in Estonia says something like this: everybody who has an Estonian passport also has an Estonian digital passport. Therefore, you have a passport in the analogue world and a passport in the digital world. ID, digital ID, digital signature, whichever way you want to call it. It takes the form of a chip or a mobile phone access smart ID. Initially there was just the opportunity to put your card in the computer and get online using your digital passport. Now people ask, why did you think it was safe? We find it a totally weird question, because if you lose your analogue passport and somebody finds it and they are relatively similar or put a falsified photo on it, they can use it. My digital passport does not function as a physical token only—it also needs two passwords. When you present your passport, nobody asks you for any passwords. Our digital ID asks for two passwords. Yet people ask if you think it is safe. Of course, it is safe. It is much safer.

This was what we told our people then. We could not tell them that the whole world of Internet services would be developed globally and they would all be globally accessible and that they would all be completely unsafe. Because in 1999 when we decided to give people a digital ID we did not know that would happen. Yes, we thought it would happen, but we did not think that other governments would leave their people and businesses so alone in the cybersphere.

Why did we not leave our businesses alone in the cybersphere when we were preparing the digital ID? We could not possibly do an e-government without the private sector. Our worry in the public sector was that people only go online for public services, initially only once a year because we had only the tax board online. We wanted other services to come online but we did not know how quickly we could do it. Anyway, how often do you apply for public services? Six times a year? Five times a year? This meant that we had to get the private sector to do it with us, because if people do not communicate only with the government, but also with their bank, with their water and electricity provider and their telecom company using the same digital passport all the time, they get used to it. It becomes mainstream. And guess what? We understood that inclusivity equals mass market depending on which side you are looking at it. We guaranteed our private companies a mass market for digitally provided services, because we gave the digital ID to absolutely everybody.

It is difficult to do. You cannot go to a retired person and say, here is your digital ID, welcome to the cyberworld. It does not work, I can promise you. What we did, was that we were just coming out with the little plastic card which in Europe functions as our travel card as well. You can use it as a travel card and for identification, so you do not need this leafy fat passport. More or less all countries in Europe have it. Par the UK, I think. Everybody else does. We simply decided that this card would be a little bit more expensive for the government if we put this digital ID on it. We would not make it optional, that you can apply and then you have the digital ID, otherwise you can have the ID card without the digital part. It cost us, 64 million Estonian kroons, so it was 8 million D-marks, that would make roughly 5 million dollars. Five million dollars for today being so much ahead, probably 15-20 years ahead of all other governments. But it was not easy. The Minister of Finance, who later became the Prime Minister and is a very strong supporter of the Estonian digital ecosystem—he was demanding, where is the benefit coming from? Next year, five years from now? Tell me, what is this going to give us? We said, we cannot guarantee it, but we think this is going to happen globally and then we would not have the money to buy it, because we are poor. Let us do it now and create this sandbox. So, we went ahead. For that 5 million dollars we could universally guarantee the safety for people online, which is still functional 20 years later. There have been of course new technologies brought in to support access to this platform. Everybody in Estonia provide services through this infrastructure, because it guarantees data safety for private companies and the government. Everybody uses their digital ID to talk to somebody else, and the channel, which we create by signing in, is encrypted. So, if I use my digital ID to query an Estonian travel company for some tickets, booking.com does not come into it selling me my last trip again and again.

Estonians know it. Inherently they therefore know that if I use my credit card, not this safe channel to communicate between the provider and the bank, then I would see these tiresome advertisements from booking.com. This kind of explains to Estonians what cyberhygiene means. Cyberhygiene means that you operate on the Internet safely. Here you may also understand what cyberhygiene means, but you have yet to convince your government to provide the soap and water for this hygiene – the ID card. Because cyberhygiene needs to be taught from an early age and we are teaching it to our people as well. But we say, this is your soap and water, this is your ID, use it, then you are safe and we guarantee that you are safe. You can teach cyberhygiene – keep your passwords safe, etc. – however much you want, but it would not do the trick, for one simple reason. Facebook and Amazon and all others which the political class shame for the fact that they cannot protect people’s data actually cannot do it, because it is not the technology what protects the data. It is the legal system that is protecting the people’s data. In Estonia the technology is such that the info is encrypted, but we also have created a legal space. For example, the legal space says that if you have access to somebody’s data because you are a civil servant, you will have access to a small proportion of the data. Nobody has access to everything, there is no big brother. There are a lot of small databases and to exercise your function you have access to a part of it. For example, a doctor has access to his patients’ medical files. Even within that file I can limit the doctor’s access. The same with genetic data – I can set it so my doctor cannot see it. It is my right. I can do it, because we have a system like that.

Most democratic governments tell their people that they protect their data and keep it safe. However, they are not implementing it, because you do not know who read your medical file in your doctor’s office or made a copy of it. Snooping is prohibited by the law and you would be punished if you look at this data. Yes, but what is the chance that you know who copied it? A huge investigation, etc. In Estonia, if you are going into the system according to your function, accessing my health file, you would leave a personal trace. It is not like a hospital in northern Tallinn was looking at it—it is a person, a specific nurse, a specific doctor. They sign in to the system with their digital ID, and they look. If I think they have done something, I can complain and the state sues. That is what guarantees data safety that can never be done by Facebook or Amazon. So big Internet companies are being treated unfairly globally. Blaming them for trying to give people some ways and means of identification on the Internet, which, in principle, all the governments know these companies cannot back up with legal guarantees. This is the government’s job to give their people an identity. We all act and transact online, we cannot leave our people and businesses alone, it is our job!

I think in Europe we are now getting it. Germany last year gave everybody an ID card with a digital chip, France is starting next year. So, we are getting somewhere. However, we still have difficulties with mutual recognition and do not even talk about mutual use. Estonia and Finland, by the way, we are on the same platform, we call it X-Road. We both use it, Finland and Estonia. Iceland is joining us too. So, there are different sovereign states coming together on one platform as well. For the rest we need to think how to link the platforms up to create a European digital identity. I think it will happen first in Europe and then globally, because in Europe we are used to having our four freedoms and a single market. Adding digital freedom is hard work. We have an Estonian commissioner in charge of it, the Vice President of the European Commission. It is hard and it is painful. When I last year spoke at the Digital Summit of the European Union Council, some people fell asleep because they really do not understand. However we are slowly getting to the governments in Europe realising that you cannot leave your people without the soap and water of cyberhygiene. They are starting to do it.

We are finally seeing some progress. You may ask, why I am happy about progress, which is cutting into our competitive advantage? But it is not. Estonia is a tiny country, 80 percent of our economy is exports. As soon as you exit Estonia you are back to paper or Amazon or Google or Facebook identity. I am very grateful that they have it, but I realise the weaknesses of that system. I am not blaming them for what they have done. They have done what they could, they could not do more. Only a few days ago I had a discussion with Amazon leaders trying to figure out how Estonians could use the identity which we provide on Amazon. I do not know whether we get anywhere with it or not, but we made an offer. All Estonian companies can treat our identification platform as an app store and create services on it, all kinds of services. You can do it as well because it is open to citizens of other countries, you do not have to be an EU national. You can apply for Estonian e-residency, and then you can use our app store to create your own company and to create your own services.

I think that this way we are starting to look much bigger than one million. Because in ten minutes one million Estonians can give ten million signatures or make ten million queries of the registries all over the country. This way we look like we are a ten-million nation. Like Sweden. However, in the next ten minutes we would beat the Swedes, because they now must change offices to make another ten million signatures, queries, etc., whereas the Estonians simply log on to a different site.

We see digital as a great equaliser. It makes the small ones look bigger. It allows new opportunities for example to the women in the job market, because we have our home load. In Estonia we have tried to make it more equal, but childcare is still heavily skewed towards women. I see young fathers running around with prams, my husband would not do it when my first children were born, now this is more equal. But let us face it, most of the burden is still with women. We apply more often for social services than our husbands do. Having it all at your fingertips early in the morning or late at night or when the baby is sleeping is much easier. An Estonian would not imagine having to go to the village council to name a baby. What for? It already has a digital identity, created automatically in the background when the doctor was entering the birth data into the e-health system. The doctor does not know it happens, but it happens in the background. Later the parents log on and add the real name to the digital identity of the baby. So, you do everything online. It is really a great equaliser for the women in society.

Since we have this digital identity, Estonians are more open and our companies are more open to offer jobs, for example outside of the capital, in rural areas, where you can work from a distance. One of our banks, the biggest one by market share, does not put out job offers offering work in Tallinn, work in Tartu or some other town. They say, that there is a job in our bank and you work wherever you are. Face time is not required for most of the banking services and 99 percent of the transactions in Estonia happen online anyway. There are no bank branches in the villages, you cannot go and work there. However, you can do bookkeeping anywhere. In principle, you can book-keep for an Estonian company from here or from Africa. Yet another great opportunity. Imagine you are an African girl who has Internet access but cannot leave home for some reason. In principle she could learn Estonian bookkeeping and work for an Estonian company. But not for every other European company, mind you! Because many countries still demand that all the data underlying the tax declarations have to be kept in the country. By this they mean that it cannot be in the cloud. Ridiculous in the 21st century!

This demonstrates to you very aptly how the people who worry about job-loss and the lack of job creation by the new technology are themselves keeping up the barriers. For example, handicapped people can find jobs on the Internet much more easily than they previously could. If you think of an autistic person, someone who likes to knit. Let us imagine he or she is only knitting red socks, he does not do anything else, scarves or hats, he does not do even green socks, only red ones. 20 years ago such a person would be unemployed, because there would not be takers for red socks in his own town, even if it were a big town. In addition, he would have to have some interface to sell this stuff. Nowadays it is not a problem. The Internet is your market and your homepage is your access to the market, so this autistic person now would find enough takers for the red socks, globally. It is a nice story as well, I am quite sure it would fly. This person, I do not know whether he or she exists. On the other hand, we have in Estonia a man from South Africa. He settled in Estonia and he lives in a county where there are a few thousand people. He makes world-class bows and arrows and sells them online. His closest client lives about a thousand kilometres away.

So, it is not that the Internet creates smart jobs and you have to have a PhD to be an engineer to benefit from what the Internet can offer. It is a great equaliser to all classes socially, craftsmen, handicapped people, young mothers, everybody benefits. But we have to play it right.

Here comes my plea to you, young people in this room. One thing that we have not managed to solve for our children is that if people fluently work everywhere globally, and we still want them to have social services and education and health care – in the European case it is also a public service. How do we now in this new world gather taxes? It cannot be any of the old city-promoted models with their limitations. You would need a safe dock of a country which would guarantee your children education in their own language, your health care globally wherever you are, and if you are working in ten companies simultaneously because you are narrowly specialised, and these companies happen to be in five different continents. What would you do as a tax board? The time where the river flowing in from an enterprise where everybody has an address where they work and an address where they live is over. Address where they work provides for tax flow, address where they live, this is the lottery for social services and education—that is over. More and more self-employed people are stepping out into the job market every day. We are totally overlooking it as governments.

So, what happens? Younger people opt out. Those who are very lucky, they get rich and buy private insurance services. Good for them, but what about solidarity for those who care about solidarity? We in Europe do care. Our people expect solidarity-based education and health care services. We have to care about solidarity. The poorer people who might not be so successful online, they would fall into the precariat. We do not want that. So, we need to rapidly re-think all our tax systems to have this kind of safe dock. We must tell our people that we have an agreement: you work wherever you want, you live wherever you want, we have a contract, you pay us this and we guarantee you the services wherever you are. These people whose job does not depend on physical location, in the summer they may prefer the Baltic States and in the winter the Mediterranean.

This is one problem, which I would now ask you to solve. The other problem I ask you to solve is education. The Internet has changed a lot the way children learn. A nine-year-old was perfectly predictable 20 years ago, regarding what they would know. Nowadays it is perfectly unpredictable. Every child knows a lot, and they need to go to school and somehow, based on the feedback system, develop what they know and be helped somewhere else. Teaching becomes supervised learning. For that you would need a curriculum online, so that the child could find out based on feedback, what he or she can do and already knows and then study it with the support of a teacher. For the teachers there would always be, never mind the technology, one job – to teach our liberal democratic values. How to be a human being, a compassionate human being. When all these mundane jobs are taken by computers, we can specialise in this, being compassionate human beings. That is our future. It is extremely necessary as well, because we do not know whether we would really be enjoying this new world of technology without too many worries, or whether we will be fighting horribly with climate change and have many worries. In both cases it is equally important how to be part of society and a compassionate human being. That is my last word about digital society. Finally, it does not change anything, we can simply specialise in being human beings.

Thank you!

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ENG Kõned Fri, 02 Nov 2018 07:00:40 +0000
At the European School Heads Association’s (ESHA) Biennial Conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14649-president-of-the-republic-at-the-esha-biennial-conference-in-tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14649-president-of-the-republic-at-the-esha-biennial-conference-in-tallinn Welcome to Estonia! I am very proud that this conference is taking place here in Tallinn this year. It’s interesting that while preparing for this presentation today I was asked to tell you why Estonia ranks so highly in PISA scores. Of course, in the end, nobody knows, but I think we need to delve into the history of Estonian education to answer that question.

In the decades following the end of serfdom, Estonians began fundraising for a school for Estonian children that would take them beyond primary education to the secondary level. Just imagine! These people had spent centuries in serfdom.

They gained their freedom; they became owners of their land. Yet they were not simply satisfied with the fact that they could now care for their land and their farms and have their children working for their own families. They realised that they wanted to give their children something more – a better education.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 18 Oct 2018 06:04:24 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the Hanaholmen Business Forum https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14749-president-kaljulaid-at-the-hanaholmen-business-forum https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14749-president-kaljulaid-at-the-hanaholmen-business-forum Hi everybody,

I am happy to be standing in front of you once again. Last year we spoke about e-governance for beginners. This year we will take it a step further and we will talk about the future of our Nordic societies and how Estonia can also catalyse the traditionally really wonderful Nordic economic and also socio-economic models. Because I do believe that Estonia has catalysed a lot of changes in the thinking of the Nordic countries.

One of my best friends who unfortunately passed away this year, Swedish politician Hans Gustav Vestberg once told me that: “You know, we established the tax reform committee, because we were looking at what Estonians were doing. I mean, your tax environment was so radically different that all our companies were rushing there. We realised we had to change.”

I think that is why the Nordic countries are best positioned to benefit from the Estonian catalysing factor in the digital, hopefully in the future also in the AI world. Because you are already there. You are close. Like during the time when Estonia did an innovative tax system. And, by the way, established e-governance and created the Estonian Genome Law, which has received too little attention, but is also part of this legal state innovation as is digital Estonia. You see it first-hand, because your companies are there anyway. There are far more Nordic companies in the Estonian business field than in any other region globally. That means, what you were doing, maybe not consciously, but unconsciously – you are experiencing the Estonian environment. And then you go back home and ask your governments: what is going on there, why don’t we have it? Similarly I am sure that Swedish business pushed Gustav Vestberg and other Swedish politicians to create this tax reform committee. Also I think that because your businesses and your people see what is going on in Estonia they come back home and they demand that their political governments do something similar (this probably happened with Finnish-Estonian cooperation in Palveluväylä).

Of course we still have a lot of problems with this cooperation. Technically, Palveluväylä and X-Road are hyper-super inter-operable. We can work all together, but the difference is that Estonians gather data and Finns gather paper (the digital format pdf). We still have to try to work better together, to make sure that this transformation is smoother and quicker. This is extremely important if we all want to further gain from our little sandbox way of thinking with artificial intelligence.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 16 Oct 2018 10:08:36 +0000
At the Opening of the Arvo Pärt Centre https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15393-at-the-opening-of-the-arvo-paert-centre https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15393-at-the-opening-of-the-arvo-paert-centre Dear Arvo!

Thinking about this day while I was far from here, on the other side of the world, I listened to your work Spiegel im Spiegel, Mirror in the Mirror, once again. That piece, which you wrote 40 years ago on the eve of your involuntary departure, says more in today’s confusingly multipolar world than perhaps ever before. Especially when you are far from home.

I listened and thought about the sun illuminating red maple leaves in the Estonian autumn at the very same moment. In my mind’s eye, I saw the ruddy trunks of the pine trees back at home momentarily glowing in the autumn sun before it sinks too low, transforming silence into song.

Spiegel im Spiegel. Ten minutes of dialogue, questions and answers, repetition, reflection, elucidation, and acceptance.

Through your music we can experience the multitude of sounds hidden within one carefully considered note.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 13 Oct 2018 09:41:21 +0000
President of the Republic at the opening of the Arvo Pärt Centre https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14629-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-the-arvo-paert-centre https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14629-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-the-arvo-paert-centre Dear Arvo, Thinking about today while I was far from here, on the other side of the world, I listened to your work Spiegel im Spiegel or Mirror in the Mirror again. This piece, which you wrote 40 years ago on the eve of your involuntary departure, says more in today’s confusingly multipolar world than perhaps ever before. Especially when you happen to be far from home.

I listened to it and thought about the sun illuminating red maple leaves in the Estonian autumn at the very same moment. In my mind’s eye, I saw the ruddy trunks of the pine trees back at home momentarily glowing in the autumn sun before it sinks too low, transforming silence into a song.

Spiegel im Spiegel. Ten minutes of dialogue, questions and answers, repetition, reflection, elucidation and acceptance. Through your music we can experience the multitude of sounds hidden within one carefully considered note. We come to realise that silence says more than verbosity, that determined, constant movement takes us further than restless fidgeting. Your music sharpens our ears until grief turns into comfort and sorrow thaws and gives way to joy. Distance becomes warm closeness.

The world turns and home remains with us, even if reality dictates otherwise. A lonely hotel room becomes a familiar forest. An Estonian bog. A view from the bench next to a shed door, stretching over fields and cairns towards the setting sun.

You and your work play a part in this reflection of the soul, but in reality, it is born anew with each listening, depending on the time, place and mood. This singular piece has tugged on the heartstrings of millions of people on this planet and reminded us that the external hides the internal and that goodness and peace of mind do exist. It has likely encouraged quite a few people to look up Estonia on a map.

But more importantly, it has delivered an understanding that people’s inner desires are universal – they are the same everywhere in the world. This piece becomes everyone’s own: it remains yours, but so many thoughts and feelings emerge from between the sounds that you can no longer consider what happens in the listener’s soul as the composer’s creation.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 13 Oct 2018 04:53:57 +0000
President of the Republic at the World Knowledge Forum https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14600-president-of-the-republic-at-the-world-knowledge-forum https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14600-president-of-the-republic-at-the-world-knowledge-forum Dear friends,

I am standing here representing the world's only digital society which actually has a State on its side – the Estonian digital society of 1.3 million people, our whole population, because in our case it is all-inclusive.

We have already gone through a societal disruption to make sure that our citizens and businesses have a digital environment to deal with both the State and with their private partners.

I would like to add two important notices – first it is very easy to design leapfrogging strategies and find ways to change your society if you have your partners and allies. Our multilateral cooperation, our international security architecture, which guarantees the right of small nations to exist.

Otherwise this could not have happened. So we have never been in this alone, never claimed that it was only us—Estonians—who made this possible. All our partners globally—in the United Nations, EU, NATO—you all have a part in making Estonia the digital society it is.

Second important notice: Estonia is not a technology developing country. At no point during digital transformation of our society has Estonia created cutting-edge technology. Tech-wise, all what we use is pretty mundane, it is commonly used by other actors, mostly private.

It is good, because it makes it cheap, it makes it reliable. Part of it is even open source, namely our e-voting system, so everybody can try to hack it, nobody has managed, but you can try, if you feel like doing it. We invite you all to please try.

Therefore, the difference in Estonian society compared to other developed societies, this disruptive innovation this is not technology itself, the innovation lies elsewhere – in the process of bringing businesses and government together to help all people, young and old, to benefit from technological developments invented by others.

1,3 million people and a small economy cannot create, but we can quickly follow. We are the quick followers, not creators of technology. I think this is encouraging to all similar nations.

Already for 17 years, Estonians have a digital ID and we can use this to sign and time stamp, very important – almost like block chain, but from the beginning of the century –documents, including private contracts, we can apply for different public services, pay fines and taxes on-line, query the registries, and simply send encrypted e-mails.

And we also use our private sector provided services on-line, on the same platform. This is important—everybody is on the same platform—government and businesses.

Estonian e-government is like an app store, everybody, you as well, can develop services on it: private companies, public sector, people-to-people. So welcome, you can too.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 10 Oct 2018 10:43:55 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the Ewha Womens University https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14597-president-kaljulaid-at-the-ewha-womens-university https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14597-president-kaljulaid-at-the-ewha-womens-university It is most natural that the academic environment inspires us to talk about the virtues of education. It is also easy to do it here, because although wide apart geographically, our two countries stand on a similar ground, both ranked amongst the world's best educational systems.

There is a lot of hard work behind it by our teachers, schoolmasters, educational reformers, shakers and movers both in the past and present – but first and foremost, it is our peoples' steadfast pursuit for education.

Despite the hardships that history has so plentifully brought our way, we have never ceased to seek our way out, knowing that the way out is always education.

15 years before Mary F. Scranton began here classes for women at her home – the beginning of today's Ewha Womans University – in Estonia there was nation-wide fundraising campaign for opening a school that would provide secondary education in Estonian language where children could continue learning after local primary schools. It was merely a few decades after serfdom ended in Estonia and Estonians became free.

Being released from bondage and having become the owners of their farms for the first time in centuries, Estonian peasants were eager to donate a portion of their hard-earned income in order to have a better future for their children. It took less than half a century from that moment of educational awakening of our nation to change the University, established in 1638 by Swedish king Gustav the II Adolf, into an Estonian language universitas, which today finds itself among top 3% of the universities globally.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 10 Oct 2018 03:01:26 +0000
Acceptance remarks at the Seoul Honorary Citizenship Award Ceremony https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14594-acceptance-remarks-at-the-seoul-honorary-citizenship-award-ceremony https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14594-acceptance-remarks-at-the-seoul-honorary-citizenship-award-ceremony Your Excellency, Mayor of Seoul and e-resident of Estonia, Won Soon Park

Distinguished Guests

oi

Ladies and Gentlemen

Anyoeng haseyo [an-jon ha-sejo]. And a Happy Hangul Day!

Thank you for the warm welcome. It is wonderful to be back in Seoul and a great honour to become an Honorary Citizen of Seoul.

Over a hundred years ago the first collection of Korean fairy tales was published in Estonia in Estonian language. This was a few years before the Republic of Estonia was born. Fairy tales always help to better understand other cultures and nations. In the preface of this fascinating collection the translator said to Estonian readers who knew of Korea or Koreans very little, that in these stories you will see Korean's deep love for human beings, spiritual kindness, exquisite talent for poetry, fine sense of humour and most importantly – impeccable ethics.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 09 Oct 2018 04:28:32 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the University of Southern California https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14595-at-the-university-of-southern-california https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14595-at-the-university-of-southern-california Dear friends,

I am very happy to be here in front of you representing the world's only digital society which actually has a State on its side – the Estonian digital society of 1.3 million people, our whole population, because in our case it is all-inclusive.

We have gone through a societal disruption to make sure that our citizens and businesses have a completely digital environment to deal with both the State and also with their private partners.

I would like to add an important notice – Estonia is not a technology developing country. At no point during the digital transformation of our society has Estonia created any cutting-edge technology. Tech-wise, all what we use is mundane, it is commonly used by other actors, mostly private.

It makes it cheap, it makes it reliable. Part of it is even open source, namely our e-voting system, so everybody can try to hack it. Nobody has managed, but you can try, if you feel like doing it.

Therefore, the difference in Estonian society compared to other developed societies, this disruptive innovation is not technology itself, the innovation lies elsewhere – in the process of bringing businesses and government together to help all people, young and old, to benefit from these technological developments invented by others. In other words, we are quick followers, not creators of technology. Already for 17 years, Estonians have a digital ID and can use this to sign and time stamp documents, including private contracts, apply for different public services, pay fines and taxes on-line, query the registries, and simply send encrypted e-mails. It is almost like block chain, but from the beginning of the century. We also use our private sector provided services on-line, on the same platform. Estonian e-government is like an app store, everybody can develop services on it: private companies, public sector, people-to-people. You can, too! If you become an e-resident, you have access to this app store and you can use it for developing your business. It will be an EU business, so you could actually do many creative technology things on this app store.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 03 Oct 2018 00:00:00 +0000
Address at the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in the US https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14577-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-73rd-united-nations-general-assembly https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14577-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-73rd-united-nations-general-assembly Madam President, Mr. Secretary General, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Ten days ago, I was in Ukraine. Picking up syringes and empty bottles in a park next to a kindergarten in the industrial city of Dnipro. It was for the first World Clean-up Day. The biggest-ever civil society action fostered by digital technology and the voluntary will of millions. Fifteen million people in 140 countries, including many presidents and prime ministers, decided to do something for our planet. It was in response to the cry for help made by Estonians, who launched a volunteer clean-up action ten years ago. It is very easy to merely talk about a cleaner environment or climate change. But if you really want to get things done, then often, you simply must get up and do it yourself.

In many ways, this is also the reason why Estonia is running for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2020-2021. Small countries have no time for small objectives: our aim is, among other issues, to bring all things digital to the Security Council. Cyber risks are something Estonians, as citizens of a fully digitised state, understand better than most. We want to offer our perspective to make sure that humans remain safe in this new world, where cyber-related threats compound with conventional ones. The vision we have for our candidacy and for the UN as a whole is based on three keywords: empathy, equality, and efficiency.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 26 Sep 2018 08:52:16 +0000
On the occasion of the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14567-president-of-the-republic-on-the-occasion-of-the-visit-of-his-holiness-pope-francis https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14567-president-of-the-republic-on-the-occasion-of-the-visit-of-his-holiness-pope-francis Your Holiness,

it is my great pleasure to welcome you to Estonia, the historical Terra Mariana, as we celebrate our centenary.

Our declaration of independence made on February 24th, 1918 pledged equal liberties for all people in Estonia, regardless of their political views, ethnicity, or religious creed. The freedom of religion is precisely one of the unyielding bedrocks upon which our democracy is founded.

In connection, I would like to bring up an exchange that took place in the Vatican nearly one hundred years ago. During Estonia’s War of Independence, as the country lobbied the international community for recognition, the Estonian diplomat Kaarel Robert Pusta met the Holy See’s Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Gasparri, who among other things inquired as to the relationship between church and state in Estonia. Pusta replied that there was absolute freedom of religion in the new republic, to which the cardinal cheerfully replied: ‘Then we must be friends.’

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ENG Kõned Tue, 25 Sep 2018 01:35:17 +0000
President of the Republic at the opening of the autumn legislative session https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14526-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-the-autumn-legislative-session https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14526-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-the-autumn-legislative-session Distinguished President Arnold Rüütel, President of the Riigikogu, honourable members of the Riigikogu, members of the government, esteemed Excellencies!

In the year of our national centenary, no one has spoken of Estonia more aptly than Rein Taagepera did in addressing you: "This government we have is too big, for compared to the population, it requires a greater share of civil servants than larger countries. Yet at the same time, our social fabric is too thin, because it is not able to cover all special needs. If we did not need to preserve a culture founded on our own unique language, no one would be so foolish as to go to the trouble of establishing so small a separate country. But we do have such a culture. And it is a culture that is astonishingly robust, to have made possible what seems impossible: a country that is both too thick and too thin and yet still functions."

How have we managed to accomplish this? The more I reflect on it, the more clearly I discern one thing in which we are more clever than other countries. Looking back on the constitutional assembly period and then moving closer to the present, we see the following:

- the tensions between different institutions that are hard-coded into the Constitution, which makes it difficult to govern the country, yet also provides stability – no one can get their way without their will being tempered by the other parties' bidding;

- an electoral system that brings sufficiently many different viewpoints and ideas to parliament so that all societal groups feel that they are represented in the Riigikogu;

- monetary reform legislation, which was rapid, risky and original but which, being balanced by strict budgetary requirements, gave us a secure currency up until the time we joined the euro;

- a tax system whose simple elegance could be understood by a society where citizens had not previously earned real income or actually paid taxes;

- the joint platform of the digital state and private sector – the X-road;

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ENG Kõned Mon, 10 Sep 2018 05:37:01 +0000
On the Anniversary of the Restoration of Estonian Independence in Kadriorg https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14502-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-reception-commemorating-the-27th-anniversary-of-restoration-of-independence https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14502-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-reception-commemorating-the-27th-anniversary-of-restoration-of-independence Dear visitors to the Rose Garden, dear people in homes across Estonia!

In 1988, speaking at the Song of Estonia event held at the Song Festival Grounds, Siim Kallas said: ‘We knew there would be a scandal. But we thought it would be worse if the people didn’t understand and the substance of our proposal would be lost in some kind of a fog. It all turned out differently. What has happened is actually unbelievable.’ Kallas continued, describing the discussions with the public over the IME (Self-Managing Estonia) proposal: ‘Two hours of questions that made us sweat because they were so to the point. That’s the kind of support we will need more of in future. Sober, intelligent.’

Reflecting on Kallas’s words, we had the strength to engage in politics back then. Complex politics with the entire nation. And we did so in much more complicated conditions than today.

Regardless, the words spoken by the Soviet-era dissident Erik Udam at the founding meeting of the Estonian National Independence Party characterised us well: ‘Maybe we have little experience as we were forced to live under duress: for their entire lives, people my age and younger haven’t been able to be politically active in a free country. Because of that, we may stumble, we may err, but I don’t have any doubt that we’re all led by a sincere desire to do our part for our homeland. That desire is unselfish, and I hope that our endeavours will not be without consequences.’

Today, we are a much more experienced, much more successful nation. Democracy is not new for us. It is not futile to hope that this coming autumn, winter, and spring will generate many good ideas about which political stratagems can shape the best possible future for us.

However, there is a key problem to this discussion that I wish to share with the Estonian people. The conversations we have to have amongst ourselves are not just simple talk. We have to talk about what would support the gains and benefits that come from thinking.

We do not have to talk about these things in overly complicated terms. Ultimately, a politician’s main professional skillset is to be able to make complex matters more or less comprehensible. The art of politics is making complicated things comprehensible, not actively selling simple promises. We will hopefully see this art in the upcoming political season.

I am not undervaluing those election pledges that are well articulated and aimed at bringing balance to the development of Estonia’s society – far from it. But it does not happen automatically. The best way to ensure that society develops in a consistent manner is to think things through with the electorate as well.

We have to talk about education. We have to talk about healthcare. The hopes of the next generation are created through a consistent, well-organised school system. Healthcare and social protection are the second and third pillars of society’s future-oriented sense of security. The social sphere, and perhaps more widely our caring for weaker members of society, tended to be neglected in the early phase after independence was restored. Estonia’s economic success now obliges us to focus on taking notice of others and supporting and helping them. What can we do to decrease violence, ostracism, and neglect? Perhaps the risk behaviour we see today, such as in traffic, is a reflection of a generation raised in less caring times that is now coming of age.

Education, a mindset informed by Estonian culture, a scientific approach to thinking: without these, we will not build a good society. Thanks to high-tech devices, children entering school have become much smarter than today’s adults were when they began their education. Elementary-form children pick up English on their own from the Internet and solve math problems disguised as games. They find themselves bored at school if their earlier skills are not taken into account and they are not given the chance to build further on the foundation they have laid. Yet of course, not all schoolchildren have such a base to build upon. Children’s knowledge can be strong, or weak, in very different ways. The earlier we achieve a system where education is based on feedback and takes into account what children know, the better future we will be creating for our children and our country.

We have to focus less time on teaching facts and more effort on teaching how to be a human being. The ability to use one’s freedoms without infringing on the liberty of others. The ability to defend oneself without becoming angry. We can’t offer our kids all the knowledge that they will need on a daily basis 30 years from now, anyway. However, we can give them a compass of democratic values and freedoms. In this way, we can help ourselves cope as a society, in society, no matter what the future holds for our children, be it arduous adaptation to climate changes or exciting new technologies.

A very important part of learning to be a human being is culture and the fine arts. The technocratic world may make us forget that it is the Estonian language and Estonian culture, which help to keep all of the components of our society cohesive. The European Union, too, is based upon a common European cultural history. The definition and protection of human rights, and even international security architecture are the outcome of centuries-long philosophical rumination. It is, then, logical to conclude that too little contemplation on life may pose a threat to these achievements of humankind. To keep this from happening, we need the aesthetic element; we need the thought-provoking, the provocative – we need our own culture.

At the same time, culture is what helps us get closer to the societal ideal, at which point we have hashed out our differences and reached agreement, consensus. This cannot be the case every day, but we can occasionally allow it. At the Estonian Song and Dance Festival. At Pärnu Music Festival. At a Konrad Mägi exhibition. At the Juu Jääb festival. We can do so at summer performances held all across Estonia. Yesterday, at the Song Festival Grounds. Whenever we leave a concert, performance, or exhibition, we do so with a pleasant feeling in our hearts. We do not realize, for the most part, that we have just gone to revitalise our spirits at our local cultural spring, but we are still quite obviously revitalised.

To be able to provide Estonian-language education that is compatible with the future, a smart government, preventive and high-quality healthcare, and a supportive society, we also need Estonian scholars and scientists. Without increasing our contribution to research, we will, over time, lose the ability to bring in foreign funding. If our people do not want 20th-century technologies, even if they are more refined than ever before, then we have no other choice but to spend towards having more renewable resources: good ideas and key abilities for implementing them.

The rough draft of Estonia’s future, the sketching of which will hopefully begin in the upcoming political season, desperately needs a scientific foundation as well as a cultural and educational base, so that the superstructure of the three pillars – education, healthcare, and social protection – might meet Estonians’ expectations and support their dreams.

And finally, we must talk about politicians. Where do Estonia’s politicians come from?

We have to debate our future. Those who care about Estonia’s future cannot say that they do not like politics. If we do not shape our own future, it will be done for us. If too few people in Estonia want to engage in Estonian politics, then our future as a country will truly be in serious jeopardy. If we do not want to think creatively about our future, the future will start to appear more frightening than it actually is. Panicked societies tend to rashly seek simple solutions, and instead of relying on democratic processes, they rely on one individual or one view that promises to shield them from all the world’s trials and tribulations.

In a democracy, the politician’s profession is just as important as any other job, without which society could not function. If Heinz Valk hadn’t spoken his famous words ‘One day, no matter what, we will win,’ would the whole nation have had the strength to hope? Would we have the Kumu Art Museum if Signe Kivi had not wanted to be minister of culture? And whenever Endel Lippmaa took part in a political debate, no one could depend solely on flowery rhetoric or curry favour with empty wordplay. He would always ask, ‘Sorry, but what is your assertion based upon?’ and then rummage around in his briefcase for a document to back up his argument. The Independent Monarchists, which I’d so much as call a populist political party that swam past the mainstream, was once able to lift the spirits of both the electorate and the elected, as well as foster hope for a better Estonia, with the poet Priit Aimla in its ranks. The age of scientists, scholars, writers, engineers, journalists, teachers, and doctors in Estonian politics is not over. On the contrary, we need you. The democratic process is just as torturous as the creative process, just as complicated as a scientific experiment, and just as risky as brain surgery, but just as necessary. In fact, it depends on us whether a similarly cool party will be raging here one hundred years from now, or there will only be the rustling of leaves high in the crowns of century-old oaks.

Every year when we gather here in the Rose Garden to think back on the days in which our independence was restored, someone leaves with a shard of stone taken from the boulders once hauled up to defend Toompea Hill. This year’s recipient provided the musical soundtrack for those days, singing solo or with several of his colleagues.

I hope that today’s shard will remind us of an era in which everyone wanted to be in politics and, looking back from nearly 30 years later, many good policies were accomplished. This gives us inspiration. Why can’t we do it again? Just like Ivo Linna sang in the bands In Spe and the Swing Song Sextet in 1988, to lyrics written by Jüri Leesment and music composed by Alo Mattiisen:

‘In the hopes the path we found was worth the wait/
in the hopes it’s easier to love than to hate.’

Ivo Linna was by our side during the restoration of independence, and neither he nor his songs left us during the years of economic bust and boom. I believe he still has much to teach us, because he is an invincible combination of optimism, wry warmth, and patriotism.

He is close to the entire nation, just like a politician dreams of being. He is a reminder of the times when politics in Estonia was influenced by the likes of Heinz Valk with the Popular Front and Lagle Parek with the National Independence Party, accompanied by patriotic songs and performers. Ivo Linna, please come up and take this stone with you. Take it across the sea or set it by the edge of a forest, as you wish. This weighty stone is a small expression of the gratitude felt by the people of Estonia.

 

 

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ENG Kõned Sun, 19 Aug 2018 19:00:00 +0000
President of the Republic at the opening of Vabamu Museum of Occupations and Freedom https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14495-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-vabamu-museum-of-occupations-and-freedom https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14495-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.]]> ENG Kõned Tue, 14 Aug 2018 10:54:23 +0000 President Kersti Kaljulaid at the International Westphalian Peace Prize award ceremony in Münster https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14475-2018-07-17-11-25-26 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14475-2018-07-17-11-25-26 President Steinmeier,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen

I sincerely thank you all for awarding Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with the eleventh International Westphalia Peace Prize. Thank you very much. Receiving the award for democratic development is a great honour and privilege for Estonia. Especially at the time when we are celebrating the centenary of our statehood. Especially here in Nordrhein-Westfalen that has traditionally had good relations with Estonia and in Münster with its history of fostering peace in Europe.

The Westphalian Peace Treaty signed here in Münster in 1648 marked the end of the Thirty Years' War. A war that we still remember for its cruelties. At the time, Estonia of course was not yet an independent country. However, maybe you did not know, but Estonian men were fighting in the Battle in Lützen in 1632 in the army led by the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf. The king lost his life in the battle, but just before the battle, he managed to sign an order to establish the first university in Estonia in Tartu.

So, something good comes out of every crisis and links us for centuries. The Westphalian Peace Treaty was the first all-European peace treaty. After the brutalities of the war, it shaped our thinking about war and about peace. It also laid a foundation for the modern international system of sovereign states. Of course, the Westphalian system was not perfect. As we know by now, it did not guarantee everlasting peace and prevent wars.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 13 Jul 2018 19:00:00 +0000
At the Sciences Po Graduation Ceremony in France https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14443-president-of-the-republic-at-the-graduation-ceremony-of-sciences-po https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14443-president-of-the-republic-at-the-graduation-ceremony-of-sciences-po Dear graduates!

Please accept my sincerest congratulations! You are coming to the end of your formal education path, which we, your parents’ generation, lovingly prepared for you.

We did it with your best interests in mind. However, we did it from the perspective of the past. You have acquired an education we thought would prepare you adequately for the challenges of your generation. Of course, as all loving parents before us, we got some things right and missed other opportunities.

At some point, we realized that the technological cycle has been shortening. We did foresee, to a certain extent, that the 21st century would witness the birth and death of many more inventions than the 20th century. After all, only the petroleum lamp and horse cart truly expired in the last century. Most inventions were merely made more efficient, but survived.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 29 Jun 2018 19:00:00 +0000
President Kersti Kaljulaid's keynote speech at the Northern Light Summit https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14440-president-kersti-kaljulaids-keynote-speech-at-the-northern-light-summit https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14440-president-kersti-kaljulaids-keynote-speech-at-the-northern-light-summit Ladies and gentlemen, dear listeners

It's an honour for me to stand before so many business leaders and decision-makers, and to describe to you the Estonian fairy tale of development of the last quarter of a century. All successful management strategies in rapidly changing or even unpredictable global environment involve grasping opportunities, while managing the risks. This applies for businesses and for states, even if their coping strategies have to be different.

I admit that for obvious reasons not all Estonians share the view that our development over the last 25 years has been 'great'. However, by the end of the day probably everybody understands that you cannot have the Scandinavian welfare system and Singaporean lean state, Scandinavian wage levels and Latvian low prices all at once. Anyway, this is roughly, what Estonian people demand from their rulers and I feel squaring these circles the best way is also a key to sustain the success what Estonia has achieved in last 25 years. Teething troubles of a young democracy, as you see.

In 1992, when Estonia exited the rouble zone and adopted Estonian krona, we did it in an innovative way. Our then President of the Central bank Siim Kallas, whom most of you here know very well, I believe, was facing resistance from the IMF to support our monetary reform. The reason? Nobody had gone so bold, so radical, so high risk and, from the other hand, so simple way. Simply adopting the krona, fixing its exchange rate to gain public confidence in it, floating it free from day one to avoid black market of currency exchange, and to adopt a law that budget has to balance, because you cannot sustain a currency board without fiscal stability. IMF said no. Impossible. Money would leave the country. You will never balance the budget, poor as you are. You will have to devalue at one point and therefore promising people that 8 kronas will buy you 1 deutsch-mark forever is not sustainable.

I am not saying IMF was not right about risks. Of course it was. But Estonia started to exhibit the character which later brought us the digital state which is now our global image. They could not consider this, as we ourselves could not say what it was. By now, we know. Estonia can, unlike no other country, create permissive legal environment for innovation, both public and private.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 29 Jun 2018 07:53:59 +0000
On Estonian Victory Day at the Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14417-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-at-the-victory-day-parade-23-june-2018-tallinn-song-festival-grounds https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14417-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-at-the-victory-day-parade-23-june-2018-tallinn-song-festival-grounds Dear members of the Estonian Defence League! My fellow people of Estonia here in Tallinn or in your homes throughout the country! Dear allies!

Today, at this parade organised by the Defence League here at the Song Festival Grounds, we can see the Estonian people’s will to defend their country. We can see our commitment, will, and readiness. Not only see, but demonstrate. This parade boosts our self-confidence as we see and show that the whole nation will be involved in our defence, if necessary. To our allies, this parade demonstrates that Estonians are prepared to stand up for themselves if needed. To our opponents, it demonstrates that Estonia’s power is not merely limited to professional soldiers or even trained reservists. Estonia’s power lies in the readiness of the entire nation to stand up for itself and support one another in hardship.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 23 Jun 2018 08:03:22 +0000
On Town Hall Square in Tartu 22 June 2018 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14413-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-on-town-hall-square-in-tartu-22-june-2018- https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14413-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-on-town-hall-square-in-tartu-22-june-2018- Dear people of Tartu and distinguished guests,

I am very glad to welcome you in the heart of the city of Tartu. On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, we are graced today by the presence of good friends with whom we share common values. A century ago, they, like us, went through a crucial period in the formative years of their statehood.

I am pleased that we can commemorate our country's anniversary here in Tartu in particular, as it is the home of our oldest and largest university. Our only Universitas. The university is what made Tartu into what it is for Estonians and the entire world.

Above all, Tartu is a key bulwark for Estonians' and Europeans' academic world.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 22 Jun 2018 07:28:02 +0000
Address of the President at the dinner in the white hall of the Museum of Tartu University https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14419-president-of-the-republic-on-the-occasion-of-the-visit-of-presidents-of-finland-georgia-iceland-latvia-and-poland-to-celebrate-the-100th-anniversary-of-the-estonian-republic-22nd-june-2018-in-tartu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14419-president-of-the-republic-on-the-occasion-of-the-visit-of-presidents-of-finland-georgia-iceland-latvia-and-poland-to-celebrate-the-100th-anniversary-of-the-estonian-republic-22nd-june-2018-in-tartu Dear colleagues,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure and great honour to welcome you in Tartu to celebrate among friends the centenary of the Estonian Republic with Gaudeamus – the Baltic students' song and dance festival held since 1956.

As a home to Estonia's oldest university, Tartu has always carried a sense of freedom. Greatest figures of Estonian national awakening time studied and worked in Tartu. And 30 years ago it was in Tartu where our national flag was waved again in public.

I remember that emotional spring day as a student very vividly. It truly felt like spring was everywhere, no clouds in the sky. At least for the young people.

Tartu is not only about being an Estonian, national awakening, independence and regaining it. Tartu, which we also call Athens of the River Emajõgi, has a special place also for Finland, Georgia, Iceland, Latvia and Poland.

As kindred people,

the relations between Finland and Estonia have always had a special importance and meaning. Our languages, culture and similar world perception have brought us close together.

Since 1991 Finland has permanently been present in Tartu – with its students, lecturers, Fraternitas Fennica, cultural and business relations and Tampere Maja to name

a few visible and noticeable links, but also through countless unnoticeable links. Integration between Finland and Estonia through cooperation has become part of our everyday lives. We used to say that our language brings us together, now it is the only thing which separates us.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 21 Jun 2018 19:00:00 +0000
At the Global Leadership Summit in Gothenburg https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14374-at-the-global-leadership-summit-in-gothenburg https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14374-at-the-global-leadership-summit-in-gothenburg First, thank you for inviting me. Estonia and Volvo are perfect partners, because globally you employ close to 100 000 people. Estonia on the other hand has 117 000 people working in industry – everybody else is in services. Therefore, we are a perfect match. However, there are other similarities. Your annual turnover is 5 billions bigger than Estonia’s GDP. So we are actually very well matched.

Estonia is globally the only digitally transformed society that has the full support of its state.

First, I would have to prove to you why I believe that we already have a digitally transformed society.

Up until last year, we thought that we can have a digital environment and if something goes wrong – because as you know in digital it always does, as you are always in Beta versions —there could be a paper alternative. Then last year it went wrong as a lot of digital chips were withdrawn from global market. One billion in fact.

Most of them opened doors in factories, but for us and some other countries it worked as a digital identity. In those other countries, these cards were simply closed down – nothing happened, nobody noticed.

Obviously, there were no services linked to digital identity. In Estonia, however, we almost had a riot. Not because we closed down the services – we did not–, but because some ID-cards would not get the patch online, so people had to go to the Police and Boarder Guards` office to get the patch.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 13 Jun 2018 19:00:00 +0000
At the WHO Conference „Health Systems for Prosperity and Solidarity: leaving no one behind" https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14366-at-the-who-conference-health-systems-for-prosperity-and-solidarity-leaving-no-one-behindq https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14366-at-the-who-conference-health-systems-for-prosperity-and-solidarity-leaving-no-one-behindq First of all, it is a privilege to celebrate jointly with you the centennial anniversary of the Estonian Republic this year and also the 10 year anniversary of the Tallinn Charter.

In 2008, 53 countries signed the Tallinn Charter: Health Systems for Health and Wealth. The underlying values in the charter were solidarity, equity and universalism.

Already at that time, the Charter was extremely broad raising the philosophy, which is now deeply rooted in the European societies, that health is a fundamental right of all people.

The Charter described that people´s well-being is at the centre of the triangle of strong and resilient health systems, health and wealth. It is needless to state, that at this time, these values were forward-looking.

Universal health coverage is one thing that makes it tolerable to have income inequality in societies because people know that one of their basic needs is covered. As you may know here in Estonia we have a single payer scheme where patients do not pay. We are very proud of it and we believe that we have a system that is also efficient and effective at the same time inclusive. These are the principles that were raised also in Tallinn Charter. It would be very sad if we arrived here in year 2018 and we would have to say that even if it is the Tallinn Charter we do not respect it. We do, I can assure you.

The Charter did describe that people's wellbeing is at the center of the triangle of a strong and resilient health systems – health and wealth. Of course at that time these values were quite forward looking and world did not yet resemble too much what the Tallinn Charter was stating. I feel it is still relevant today. It does address major health challenges ahead. We have demographic change, widening socioeconomic disparities everywhere, limited resources, technological development which makes of course treatment more expensive and people´s rising expectations towards healthcare systems.

Economic outlooks predict increasing inequalities in income and this does put pressure on everybody's health and social budgets.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 13 Jun 2018 09:27:12 +0000
President of the Republic on the occasion of the state visit of His Majesty King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands to the Republic of Estonia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14365-president-of-the-republic-on-the-occasion-of-the-state-visit-of-his-majesty-king-willem-alexander-of-the-netherlands-to-the-republic-of-estonia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14365-president-of-the-republic-on-the-occasion-of-the-state-visit-of-his-majesty-king-willem-alexander-of-the-netherlands-to-the-republic-of-estonia Your Majesty,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to receive Your Majesty in Estonia at the time we are celebrating the centenary of our statehood.

Our diplomatic relations date to 1921, but our historical connections go back as far as the times of the Hanseatic League and Moedernegotie (Mother of all trades), the most important source of income for the Dutch, even before the Gouden Eeuw. It consisted of the trade with countries around the Baltic Sea in goods such as graan (grain) and hout (wood). Goederen (goods) that the Dutch traders were clever enough to invest in. For example, the timber shipped through Narva, the town on the border of the Western and Eastern civilisation, was partly used to build Amsterdam. The good economic and trade relations continue until now with the Netherlands being the third biggest foreign investor. And I am pleased that the traditional trade with grain and wood has expanded to more innovative, digital fields, sometimes combining the two.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 12 Jun 2018 14:49:13 +0000
At the Lennart Meri Conference dinner https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14332-president-of-the-republic-at-the-lennart-meri-conference-dinner https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14332-president-of-the-republic-at-the-lennart-meri-conference-dinner Dear organisers, dear participants of the Lennart Meri Security Conference!

This magnificent week is almost over. It’s been a great week for Estonia – a ‘security Woodstock’, as someone said. And as always with festivals, the best is kept for last to hold our attention and make us crave more. Thank you, Riina Kaljurand, for organizing the Lennart Meri Conference for so many years, and also a happy birthday to you!

As we sit here in Tallinn and discuss cyber- and conventional security matters, the world around us has not stopped turning. In Ukraine, during the last week alone, four people, including a 15-year-old girl, have been killed in shellings, and another 15 people have been wounded. That’s not a frozen conflict: that is war. And while we celebrate the centenary of the Georgian Republic, we also have to accept that for ten years – ten years already – we have not been able to do much about the partial occupation of Georgian territories. We tread carefully with our words, calling the evil line of occupation in Georgia something else. When I asked the EU Monitoring Mission in November about why exactly we use euphemisms like ‘Administrative Boundary Line’, he could not give me a clear answer. I felt sympathy for him, because he had to stick to the agreed vocabulary. He noted that Georgians, though, do call it ‘an occupation line’. Why don’t we at least give Georgians that little bit in our every word and gesture: recognition that part of the country’s territory is occupied? Calling an occupation an occupation is something our political predecessors did not hesitate to do, down to the final little detail.

Today at the conference, we heard from my Austrian colleague, President Alexander Van der Bellen, who had an Estonian passport until he was 15 years old: only then did he realise that his passport had been issued by a country which, at that moment, was not free. Still, that passport was recognized.

About two months ago, I had the chance to board a brand-new military transport plane of our eFP framework nation, the United Kingdom. The plane had hardly done a few rounds around the globe yet. Everything on it was 21st century, apart from a number of old-fashioned paper maps that were probably there only for looks. As a result, the maps were old. Very old, from the Cold War era. And you know, even 26 years after the occupation ended, I was deeply moved by the fact that these maps made it very clear to all users: Estonia – occupied; Latvia – occupied; Lithuania – occupied. Not just ‘parts of the Soviet Union’.

If we are unable to figure out how to solve the issue of Georgia’s partial occupation, let us at least be blunt in our recognition of the situation. If we are unable to find a concrete solution for this problem, then let us at least remind ourselves sometimes, on a slightly larger scale than the European External Action Service and its brave monitoring mission – the only body that cares at all about what is going on in Georgia every day, that this evil line of occupation is calcifying daily. First comes a road, then a ploughed strip, and this way, it is more and more impenetrable. Russia is using to its own advantage our ability to turn our heads away and not look.

Last week, I was in Ukraine. It is a country that has regularly frustrated us because it’s not fighting corruption quickly enough. We know that an even playground to all businesses and more freedom for SME development will make the country a promising investment climate, therefore kicking off quick economic development as a result of its size, natural resources, and educated workforce.

I myself have felt that impatience many times. Even so, I can see that Ukraine’s civil society is hopeful, and even if we fail to see much change, they themselves feel the reforms are gaining momentum. This in healthcare, in the pension system, and in empowering local governments. There is hope among Ukrainians, and therefore there are good grounds to keep our faith and hope alive, too.

Last Thursday, less than 30 kilometres from the line separating Ukraine and its occupied regions, I experienced something, which convinced me most that we must continue our efforts to support the country. I was sitting in a building that offers various forms of aid to the internally displaced people of Ukraine who have lost their homes: 1.5 million of them. In May alone, 150 new families were added to the list of those whose houses had been bombed by the Russians. But that is not the story that I wanted to tell you, even though it is absolutely worth being told.

We were sitting and talking to people in a garden in a village called Proliska, where the locals are used to hearing shelling every night. It was I and Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Hennadiy Zubko. People were expressing gratitude to the Estonian government and others for our support, and to the EU for its financial aid. And then, the discussion turned sour for the deputy prime minister. People were truly unhappy with how little the Ukrainian government is doing, or not doing at all, to help them.

I listened to women giving the minister a hard time and suddenly, it dawned upon me: I was seeing free people in a democratic country lashing out at their political leader. Fearlessly demanding their politicians do their work better. And then, I understood why it struck me. Just an hour earlier, we had made several attempts to talk to people from the occupied territories who had come to free Ukraine to get their pensions or some supplies. They did not want to talk, even without any cameras nearby. They did not want us to see them. They did not dare to talk to us. They were people afraid that in retaliation for expressing their views, their difficult lives might become even more horrible.

You know, I’m sensitive to this kind of fear. I grew up in the Soviet Union and was constantly reminded by my mother and grandmother that free Estonia was not a subject matter ever to be discussed outside the family. Not even with those whom I considered friends at school, as in the Soviet Union, you never knew who was a true friend. So, when I see this kind of fear, I have a familiar feeling from the past. These people from the occupied territories of Ukraine are living under serious oppression. They are afraid to speak out.

Thus, whatever we may think of Ukraine’s quality of administration, its people are free. This is a huge advantage to have. You can build an economy upon it; you can build a country based on the rule of law upon it. All is not lost if people can be angry with their political leaders without fear of repression.

However, all can be lost if we forget. If we ignore. If we offer no hope of a better future. If we put our economic interests first and our values second. Or, simply, out of a sense of powerlessness, trying to make it look like as there is no war going on for already the fourth year right here in Europe. By avoiding using the words ‘war’ or ‘occupation’. By refusing to recognise that sometimes, solutions based on the respect of international law may take a long time to achieve; much longer than our own political lifetimes will last. Even in this century, in which people demand quick fixes for everything from us as political leaders.

Even if we have nothing more to offer than strategic patience combined with frank admission of the failures we encounter in upholding the rule of law for countries like Georgia and Ukraine, we should at least offer that. Our political predecessors managed to do so for the Baltic states under conditions that left the West with much less room for helping occupied nations. At the time, they could not, for example, offer us free trade or visa-free travel as we can today for Ukraine and Georgia. They could not offer us much more than making sure asylum seekers from occupied countries could settle in the free world. But even that helped, because they never said that freedom might take half a century, or that all is lost anyway, or that we should all move on and get back to business.

Yet, we can offer Georgia much more. While the country celebrates its first big, round anniversary, we should recognise that it deserves inclusion in our discussions about future EU enlargement: something that should not be limited to the Western Balkans only. It should also be about successful Eastern Partnership countries that wish to take their place among us. It should not be with fixed dates, and it should be with all proper conditionalities. These countries need to be strict on human rights, democracy, freedoms, and rule of law. There can be no special treatment because of war or other difficulties with which these countries may be wrestling. All conditions must be met. But there must be hope.

And not only for them. It’s necessary for us, too. For the rules-based, democratic, liberal world order can only survive if we stop pretending that we were not under pressure by those who believe that the interests of the powerful are much more important than the freedom of people and nations. Because freedom is important. My examples have concerned an empire in decline, but there are also other players who are increasing their capacity to limit the freedoms of their own citizens and others.

The least we can do is to be open with our partners and allies in regard to how much closer we are to the edge of the abyss compared with at the beginning of this century.

My final words today come from Lennart Meri, the first President of Estonia after we regained our independence: ‘Estonia’s message to the world is simple: do not trade in principles. The conclusion, in light of which we so diligently close our eyes, is simple and cruel: a principle, once betrayed, will unleash a domino-effect, and stopping it will be more difficult and costly then remaining true to the principle.’

Thank you for listening.

 

 

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ENG Kõned Wed, 30 May 2018 19:00:00 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the opening of CyCon https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14325-president-kaljulaid-at-the-opening-of-cycon https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14325-president-kaljulaid-at-the-opening-of-cycon Ladies and gentlemen, dear guests!

Welcome to Tallinn for CyCon. I am very happy to speak here. And am also a little bit nervous as the whole legacy comes from Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the former President of Estonia, who has made possible for the whole world to understand that this Woodstock-kind of place for cyber is here in Tallinn. Please, let's give a round of applause to President Toomas Hendrik Ilves! Estonia have been strong in the digital world, and Estonians understand better the risks related to digital. This has been indeed largely President Ilves's doing, and the promotion work for Estonia he has been doing for over 15 years, is incredible and I am forever grateful to President Ilves for what he has undertaken and still does undertake.

I also thank thank Merle for this introduction and for organizing this conference. And since the focus of the 10th CyCon is about maximising effects, then I would like to point out the most important take-aways and lessons-learned from these developments that could really be used to do exactly that – to maximise effects in order to keep our societies and citizens safe.

What has changed globally since the last year's conference, is mainly the awareness. I think that the awareness levels on cyber related risks are today much higher than a year ago. Yes, cyber risks and cyber attacks, the attributions that have been made, are all things that were openly talked about, but the last year has brought cyber risks close to normal people. People have started to understand, that a new set of natural laws, if you wish, have been created by evolvement of the technology sphere. People normally know that if you jump out of the window then you fall down. But for some reason people didn't realise that if you are out in the internet then you are visible. Now they understand this much better. And of course, numerous efforts have been made to make companies and governments responsible for keeping their people safe in the cyber sphere, but that alone is not enough. Therefor it must come down to individual action and individual level of cyber hygiene. How you must choose what is visible about you, and how you must also understand that some parts of you, your character, your interests will remain visible in the internet. People just have to learn these new natural laws of the tech sphere. And this is also a great opportunity for all of you who deal daily with cyber risks, because now all of a sudden everybody's is really eager to learn. Now it is your time to make sure that the general benefits from your work will be maximized for the whole society.]]> ENG Kõned Wed, 30 May 2018 07:30:10 +0000 President Kersti Kaljulaid on the occasion of the official visit of the Royal Highnesses, Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit to the Republic of Estonia 25 April 2018 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14265-president-kersti-kaljulaid-on-the-occasion-of-the-official-visit-of-the-royal-highnesses-prince-haakon-and-crown-princess-mette-marit-to-the-republic-of-estonia-25-april-2018 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14265-president-kersti-kaljulaid-on-the-occasion-of-the-official-visit-of-the-royal-highnesses-prince-haakon-and-crown-princess-mette-marit-to-the-republic-of-estonia-25-april-2018 Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Hjertelig velkommen til Tallinn.

Your visit takes place in an important year as we are celebrating the centenary of Estonian independence. This would not be possible without our good friends and allies like Norway.

Defending freedom is a core value for both Norwegians and Estonians – freedom of our nations, but also our individual freedoms.

Both of our countries know what it means to lose your independence and to regain it. We also know that we need to protect the freedom of our friends with similar values. I am thinking about the Estonian volunteers that came to defend Norway in 1940. They sang both Norwegian and Estonian National anthems while swearing their oaths in Alta church. It was in Narvik, where the first Estonian lost his life in the Second World War. Only a few months later Estonia lost its independence.

Norway never recognised the illegal annexation of Estonia by the Soviet Union. You allowed Estonian honorary consuls in Oslo and Trondheim to continue their work. You also did let us to declare the Estonian government in exile in 1953 in Oslo when such political activity was not allowed in many other countries. We are grateful for your support at these difficult times.

In early nineties, me and my friends went to see these historic places for our military history. The wonderful Alta canion offered us much more than lessons of history. It offered beautiful nature, wonderful views and many mushrooms and berries, by the way. However, Alta was also a site of civic debate about the environment, preservation of the nature versus renewable energy production.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 25 Apr 2018 14:06:53 +0000
Address of the President of the Republic at the charity dinner of the Carolin Illenzeer Fund at the Tallinn Creative Hub https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14233-address-of-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-charity-dinner-of-the-carolin-illenzeer-fund-at-the-tallinn-creative-hub- https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14233-address-of-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-charity-dinner-of-the-carolin-illenzeer-fund-at-the-tallinn-creative-hub- Esteemed President of the Riigikogu, Commander of the Defence Forces, dear friends,

Two weeks ago the former Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, General Aleksander Einseln, reached his final resting place. He was the first commander of the Defence Forces following the restoration of Estonia's independence, to the Americans he was Colonel Einseln. He taught us defence diplomacy; he taught us that on the modern battlefield just one country – no country in the world, for that matter – will be able to call all the shots. He also taught us that defence diplomacy can only succeed, when words are backed up by deeds. Estonia's words are backed up by deeds. That is why we have been successful and are able to carry on today, in the particularly tense atmosphere that prevails currently.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 11 Apr 2018 19:00:00 +0000
President of the Republic at the Tallinn Music Week Creative Impact Conference 2018 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14224-president-of-the-republic-at-the-tallinn-music-week-creative-impact-conference-2018 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14224-president-of-the-republic-at-the-tallinn-music-week-creative-impact-conference-2018 It is wonderful to see so many friends of music, arts and ideas. First of all welcome, welcome to Tallinn!

Back in time and thousands of miles away, in southwest of Tennessee, 50 years ago this week, this was where Martin Luther King Jr. held his last and one of the most powerful speeches.

There was a huge thunderstorm outside when he took the stage that night in Memphis, amid the black garbage workers' strike over unjust working conditions. It was there when he said what is now quoted on his memorial on the National Mall in Washington, DC, right up where you see it immediately. The one which reminds us that the choice for mankind was – and still is – not between violence and nonviolence, but between nonviolence and nonexistence.

Next day he was assassinated on the balcony of a motel, his last words being the ones said to a musician whom he asked to play a gospel hymn in the meeting later that night: "Play it real pretty!"

We all know Memphis as the birthplace of rock'n'roll and soul, both important not only as music styles, but as agents of change.

For us, who we can eat our lunch wherever we want to, it may be difficult to imagine all the dehumanizing intimidation that people then faced. It is not so long ago at all. All these separate drinking fountains, entrances to the movie theatres, or zoos where black people were allowed to go only when they cleaned the cages.

Just think what an effort – and therefore how much more impressive – it was to respond to all of this with... love.]]> ENG Kõned Fri, 06 Apr 2018 07:25:37 +0000 President Kersti Kaljulaid at Chatham House in London https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14261-president-kersti-kaljulaid-at-chatham-house-in-london https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14261-president-kersti-kaljulaid-at-chatham-house-in-london Thank you for these kind words about me, myself and Estonia.

Indeed, digital is not the first big wave of legally permissive environment creation, which has brought investment to our country. I would think the first one was actually in the early 1990s when our cost levels were everyone's dream and you could easily attract money to your country by having a much easier tax system. We did it and later it was copied a lot. The next time, was indeed digital, but not only digital. At the turn of the century we created a permissive environment for population-level genome investigations, and now we are able (with the cost of hopefully not more than 25 euros per capita) to provide quite soon for 10% of our population information on how easy it is for them to get diabetes type 2 and other common genetically hereditary diseases. This demonstrates that if you do not have money but you want to provide your people with services, there is a way to do it, and this is to create a digitally permissive environment. Right now, we are indeed already thinking about how to regulate artificial intelligence.  Even if we know that we are very far from creating artificial intelligence, probably further away than Elon Musk is thinking, we do have lots of automated systems and regulating for one will also cover the other, the liability issues, etc. So we are thinking of how to make sure that this wave of technology will not pass Estonia by. For example, our Traffic Code can regulate for a situation of a car and a robot having an accident, and we have already had such an accident with a package delivery robot and a car. The car driver was found guilty. It shows you that it is more general. It is not just that we happened on a digital gold mine, we do it systematically in Estonia.

Seventeen years ago, we wanted to provide our people with digital services like Industry 4.0. We thought that if we would automatize processes and remove people from the chain of providing the services and delivering goods, then we could afford more, with our small workforce in the public sector and low tax burden of the GDP, which has never exceeded 35%. At the same time, we have a population that is looking toward Scandinavia for public services to be at a good level. Now all of our people count on online as a part of everyday life. Last year we had a hiccup because of a technology provider, some people had to go to a government office to restart their digital identities, and we almost had a riot. People had to wait for an hour at a government office, shock and horror. This is when we realized that societal disruption is complete. We have digitally disrupted the society. It is not any more "digital with if needed paper alternative", it is now "digital, which needs digital alternatives". Luckily, we had several ways of digital identification so we could continue with digital Estonia.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 27 Mar 2018 05:57:04 +0000
President of the Republic at the 5th Annual Tallinn Conference on the Eastern Partnership https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14165-president-of-the-republic-at-the-5th-annual-tallinn-conference-on-the-eastern-partnership https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14165-president-of-the-republic-at-the-5th-annual-tallinn-conference-on-the-eastern-partnership Welcome to wintery Tallinn just a week after Estonia celebrated its 100th Independence Day. The celebrations here in Estonia will continue all year around but this does not mean that we wouldn't be working this year. Our EU Council Presidency turned a lot of attention to Eastern Partnership. I remember talking to your business community, your civil society and a very lively press conference with many interesting questions in Brussels on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit. It is now time to take this momentum forward and continue with these topics. Estonia will continue to support Eastern Partners and to make sure that the bus will not drive away and we will try to help all Eastern Partnership countries to achieve your objectives of state building and economic development. We know ourselves how difficult these kind of reforms can be. And I would also like to congratulate the Estonian Centre of Eastern Partnership on their fifth anniversary and thank them for organizing this conference.

Summits are important political landmarks. They enable us to take stock of what has been achieved and also to set new benchmarks. And sometimes summits can still be counted successful even if they only manage to hold on to the status quo or if only smaller practical steps are being taken. I believe that the last Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels was of this category. We didn't slide back, we understood that the isn't great enthusiasm or very much understanding on where the Eastern Partnership is going. Yet we managed to get concrete results and concrete small steps. And we managed to have a declaration that satisfied all concerned parties.

Now it is time to move forward. I noticed that as EU is talking about projecting its values beyond its borders, it is again also talking about new areas of cooperation with countries who are close to the EU, but not ready to join yet. As Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations has said, "We need to be ambitious, but also realistic and credible".

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ENG Kõned Fri, 02 Mar 2018 11:45:24 +0000
Opening speech in the honour of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia at the Latvian National Opera House https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14162-opening-speech-in-the-honour-of-the-100th-anniversary-of-the-republic-of-estonia-at-the-latvian-national-opera-house https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14162-opening-speech-in-the-honour-of-the-100th-anniversary-of-the-republic-of-estonia-at-the-latvian-national-opera-house 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.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 26 Feb 2018 20:00:00 +0000
On Estonian Independence Day in Tartu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14154-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-estonian-national-museum https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14154-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-estonian-national-museum ‘I would like to extend to all of you my sincerest congratulations on the anniversary of our Fatherland. This day unites us in joy and worry, in work and hardship. On behalf of the nation, allow me to confirm: Estonia is grateful to be joined in our celebrations by all our neighbours on this most important of days; by the full family of Nordic countries, particularly Finland; by the Member States of the European Union, and by the Members of the Atlantic Alliance, our political partners.’

That was how President Lennart Meri began his speech celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. And I am sincerely delighted to state that all those named continue to stand alongside us – with the slight difference that we are now a fully equal actor in line with them.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 24 Feb 2018 08:51:35 +0000
President of the Republic at the Ceremony for Awarding Decorations https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14133-president-of-the-republic-at-the-ceremony-for-awarding-decorations https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14133-president-of-the-republic-at-the-ceremony-for-awarding-decorations

Around this time 25 years ago, in his first Independence Day speech as president, Lennart Meri said the following: "I saw Estonia as if for the first time: it is a new land, full of hope and potential, but also a land burdened with worries. At the moment, we live on idealism more so than bread. The bearer of this idealism is the older generation, which knows and remembers that Estonia, between the two world wars, was transformed into a powerful and dynamic republic only through hard work. Idealism is also borne by the Estonian youth, just as at the time the Manifesto was proclaimed."

The concluding words of Meri's address were borrowed from August Ots, a pre-war parish elder from Saaremaa: "A man must work so hard that he does not need to cut his fingernails."

Since then a new generation has been born: the children of 25 years ago are now in this hall. The youth of the 1990s have reached a mature middle age. And our grateful thoughts are with the older generation, the one referred to by President Meri, with those who are still with us today and with those who have passed on.

One Generation of Work.

You, the people who have gathered here today, are a beautiful embodiment of this work and of its fruit. All of you have built Estonia like you would build a home – whether your tool is a compass or a plane, art or music. This is work well done, because you have put your heart and soul into it. It does not matter if you did what you did in return for a salary or during your free time in the evenings and at weekends. Thanks to your work there are more friends, more knowledge, more security, more memories in this home. And this is how it should be in a proper home. Compared with the time 25 years ago there is definitely more bread, but not less idealism.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 21 Feb 2018 08:40:38 +0000
Keynote speech by the President of Estonia at MSC side event “NATO’s Challenges on the Eastern Flank: Enhancing Forward Presence and Maintaining Cohesion“ https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14125-keynote-speech-by-the-president-of-estonia-at-msc-side-event-natos-challenges-on-the-eastern-flank-enhancing-forward-presence-and-maintaining-cohesion https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14125-keynote-speech-by-the-president-of-estonia-at-msc-side-event-natos-challenges-on-the-eastern-flank-enhancing-forward-presence-and-maintaining-cohesion Dear Ambassador Ischinger, Minister Schmidt, Admiral Nielson,
Ladies and gentlemen

First of all I would like to thank the German Atlantic Association and the Munich Security Conference for organizing this side-event. As Estonia is one of the four host nations of the eFP Battle Groups, I would like to use this opportunity to give an overview on what has been done during the last one and a half years since the Warsaw Summit, and what should be done further. And finally also a couple of thoughts on what we should NOT do in regards to eFP and the cohesion of NATO as a whole.

What has been done

Although the creation and deployment of eFP-s was primarily triggered by the 2014 events in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, for Estonia the aim of getting Allied military presence on our soil goes back much further. Against the background of the constant negative tendencies in European security, gaining NATO membership in 2004, becoming part of the collective security space, was a huge and positive development for the Baltic Sea region. But it was certainly not "the end of history" for us. We understood already back then that in order to have fully credible collective defense, one needs also to work on interoperability, realistic contingency planning and military presence by other Allied countries.

Looking towards the East, we see a steady military build-up and modernization of the Russian Armed Forces that started already some 10 years ago. Originally, this was explained as a matter of a long-postponed defence reform. More recently, it has been called a reaction to the small Allied contingents deployed in the Baltics. Whatever the reason for the build-up, it is a fact that today the permanent size of the troop contingent in Western Russia is equal to the level that in 2009 was only attained for a short period of time during the exercise ZAPAD 2009. This, unfortunately, is the new normality for us.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 15 Feb 2018 17:00:33 +0000
Keynote Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Germany https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15395-keynote-speech-at-the-munich-security-conference-in-germany https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15395-keynote-speech-at-the-munich-security-conference-in-germany Honourable Ambassador Ischinger, Minister Schmidt, Admiral Nielson, ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I would like to thank the German Atlantic Association and the Munich Security Conference for organising this side-event. As Estonia is one of the four host nations of the eFP Battle Groups, I would like to use this opportunity to give an overview of what has been done during the last year and a half since the Warsaw Summit, and what should be done further. And finally, I will also share a couple of thoughts on what we should not do in regard to eFP and the cohesion of NATO as a whole.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 15 Feb 2018 11:07:17 +0000
At the Ceremony for the 140th Anniversary of A. H. Tammsaare’s Birth https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15392-at-the-ceremony-for-the-140th-anniversary-of-a-h-tammsaare-s-birth https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15392-at-the-ceremony-for-the-140th-anniversary-of-a-h-tammsaare-s-birth Just last Saturday, I attended a performance of Andrus Kivirähk’s play The Witching Hour on Koidula Street. It is a play about love, though it pretends to be about writers and literature. However, for a moment, let us believe what it pretends. Let us truly take it as it seems. We have two classic Estonian writers: A. H. Tammsaare and Mati Unt. Two ghosts, two spirits. But in the play, there is something important between the two ghosts that also sets them apart in the afterlife. What this is, is time. All Estonians can still remember Unt. The way he was. His mannerisms. His patterns of behaviour. His tricks. Time doesn’t allow Unt to be played any other way than how he was. It’s at least a good thing that similarity in outer appearance wasn’t pursued in the case of either ghost!

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ENG Kõned Tue, 30 Jan 2018 10:11:25 +0000
New Year’s greeting from the President of the Republic on Freedom Square https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13868-new-years-greeting-from-the-president-of-the-republic-on-freedom-square-31-december-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13868-new-years-greeting-from-the-president-of-the-republic-on-freedom-square-31-december-2017 My dear Estonian nation,

On the 1st of July of this year, something very special happened right here on Freedom Square. A spontaneous dance celebration, which went from idea to reality in just a few hours. This event was an emphatic way to enter a new century in the history of Estonian statehood. This is exactly how we will start living in the second century of Estonian independence. At light speed. No time given for last-minute adjustments.

But this new pace of life has its charm. Everybody's ideas count. Everyone's actions are a part of our society. Our entire society is the sum of our collective acts. Everyone has an equal opportunity to accomplish something great.

As to whose idea is turned into action, that depends on their initiative. As to which achievement becomes a symbol or sign of the times, this is something that will become clear in hindsight. Symbols both good and bad can trigger something that changes the pattern of our society.

In 2017, the pattern-changers were people we didn't expect. Or they changed the patterns in ways we perhaps weren't able to fear.

In our new century of independence, everyone has more independence. Anyone's dream can end up determining the future course of life in Estonia. Anyone's misfortune, worry, even mistake can be the factor that makes you and me take action to make this a better society. Nowadays, we are ever less reliant on government institutions when it comes to bettering our society. Increasingly, what we need from these institutions is simply their support.

For example, it took the Tallinn City Office no time at all to realize the significance of the dance celebration on Freedom Square. As seamless society grows and becomes stronger, the state is increasingly a supporter, an enabler in the positive sense of the word.

That doesn't mean the state's role in our lives is shrinking, only that it is changing into something different. Security, healthcare, education, coping with great misfortunes in life – the state provides all of this according to its abilities, to the extent that we as taxpayers approve. If we want to go beyond that in coming to someone's rescue or preserving something – or just to improve our spirits – we can. We're allowed to. But, as the organizers of the dance celebration on Freedom Square emphasized implicitly with every step – it won't happen through divisiveness and opposition.

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ENG Kõned Sun, 31 Dec 2017 17:39:42 +0000
Speeches given during Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14116-speeches-given-during-estonian-presidency-of-the-council-of-the-eu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14116-speeches-given-during-estonian-presidency-of-the-council-of-the-eu Here you can find the speeches given by President Kaljulaid during Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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May
Address by the President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid on the Future of Europe and the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU at the State of the Union Conference 2017 in Florence on 5 May 2017
"We take on our presidency with a strong sense of responsibility, but also with enthusiasm. And we have set ourselves some ambitious goals. We aim at a European Union that is competitive, prosperous and secure. We are determined to keep Europe safe but also open to the outside world, including its immediate neighbourhood. And, of course, being Estonia, there is the horizontal digital aspect of practically every policy goal of EU that we want to highlight."

President of the Republic at the Tallinn e-Governance Conference on 30 May 2017
"Here in Estonia, we have managed the balance between security and freedom by providing a network of public and private e-services based on a secure online identity. I am proud to be the president of the only digital society that has a state. As of last year, we are proud to be the first in the world in Internet freedom according to Freedom House – we are No. 1 yet again."

June
President of the Republic at the Opening of EuroDIG 6 June
"We do not have to see freedom and security as mutually exclusive: indeed secure online interactions are a precondition for enjoying full Internet freedom."

July
Address of the President of the Republic to the Estonian people on the eve of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union 1 July
"The European Union we are a part of is not ideal. It will not be ideal after our Presidency either. The democratic system of decision-making also provides technically imperfect results in a single state, where we balance our own differing desires. The same applies, albeit in a more complex way, to international cooperation based on democratic values."

September
President of the Republic at the Annual Baltic Conference on Defence 2017 – European Defence Cooperation: Out of the Shadows? September 6
"While we gather here in Tallinn for the ABCD conference – a conference that has become a traditional and anticipated event – there is a gathering of a completely different kind in the training areas of Russia's Western Military District and Belorussia. Namely the Russian military exercise Zapad 2017, meaning "west" in Russian. An event that has also become sort of a traditional one, but certainly nothing that is well-anticipated on this side of the border."

President of the Republic at the Young EUROSAI (YES) Conference September 12
"You are young and enthusiastic, it is for you to achieve that in next 10 years you can return to your office and say that underlying data was not available, unless it is presented on an analytical, sortable database."

President of the Republic at the "Future of Work: Making It e-Easy" 13 September
"Instead of curbing people's ability to adapt by talking sustenance fees we should focus on the ability of modern technology to rise the earning capacity of the society as a whole, inclusively."

President of the Republic at the award ceremony of EUCYS 2017 26 September
"If the Artificial Intelligence develops sufficiently, you may actually even start delegating some thinking, for example the creation of algorithms to seek through a mass of data, to a robot. But there is one thing which will never change. Your responsibility to your discoveries, but also to humanity."

President Kaljulaid at the Tallinn Digital Summit 29 September
"Going digital – this was also an opportunity of radical rethink and simplification because simply making an existing paper process digital is not such a good idea. In some ways, the current public processes, paper processes, they are like fossil fuel – they have formed over generations of people and lawmakers, getting more and more complex over time, and more and more political compromises weave their way into these regulations."

October
President Kaljulaid at the conference: Soil for sustainable food production and ecosystem services 5 October

"We must ask ourselves: have we done enough to protect our soils? Have the implemented measures made it more probable that our children and grandchildren can enjoy life and food the way we are able to enjoy them?"

Closing keynote by the President of the Republic at "Health in the Digital Society. Digital Society for Health" 18 October
"Last but not least, the future is brighter for everyone, if we make use of the vast amount of data generated every day in health sector to contribute to the outcome based organisation and financing of health and care services by allowing monitoring of healthcare quality, providing more transparency and enabling evidence based policy and decision-making."

President Kaljulaid at the Manufuture 2017 Conference in Tallinn 24 October
"It is encouraging that nothing we have done in Estonia has been created any cutting-edge technology. Tech-wise, all we use is pretty well tried and tested by other actors, mostly private, in the world. It makes it cheaper, and more reliable."

November

At the Digital Transport Days 2017 in Tallinn 11 November
"Countries around the world are facing the challenge of understanding the rise of AI, which is increasingly affecting the daily lives of their populations. The transport sector is one of the key stakeholders in this strategic debate, a definite frontrunner, but it should not egoistically attempt to legislate sectorally."

President of the Republic At the Plenary Meeting of the LVIII COSAC 27 November in Tallinn
"Better respect for the principles of subsidiarity will create in itself much space for solidarity in our budget."

December
President of the Republic at the Business Europe Council Meeting in Tallinn 1 December
"Estonians care about online enough to make sure they are also well protected. They are by definition better protected than citizens of those governments who have not provided their citizens with safe identification online. The only thing the state does here is to provide a digital passport, a digital ID."

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ENG Kõned Sat, 30 Dec 2017 20:00:00 +0000
Welcome remarks at the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Estonian and Latvian accession to the Schengen area https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13854--welcome-remarks-at-the-commemoration-of-the-10th-anniversary-of-estonian-and-latvian-accession-to-the-schengen-area https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13854--welcome-remarks-at-the-commemoration-of-the-10th-anniversary-of-estonian-and-latvian-accession-to-the-schengen-area Honourable President Vējonis,

ladies and gentlemen.

police and border guard members,

the good residents of Valga and Valka,

Time flies – it has already been ten years since the physical border between our countries disappeared. Being neighbours, we had close relations before that time as well, but the lifting of border checks at the Estonian and Latvian border crossings upon accession to the Schengen visa area made interactions between people even simpler and smoother. The dividing line vanished and gave the inhabitants of the border regions impetus to do things and build their home communities together because doing things alone just doesn't yield the same outcome. Together, we have contributed to creating a business-friendly environment in the border regions – it can't be denied, we have done our share to make the Latvian border regions among the most popular destinations for many Estonians, improved services related to health care, developed a joint vocational education system, laid the conditions for cross-border employment, improved our living environment and found solutions to individual problems on our agenda.

We perceive this change best here, in the twin cities of Valga and Valka, where the cooperation between the two communities has always been mutually beneficial and necessary to both sides. A very good example is the way the public urban space is shared by the twin towns, the development of the city centre, and the collaboration in providing art and music education. Valga County Vocational Training Centre offers education to Estonians and Latvians and the inhabitants of both countries receive medical care from Valga Hospital. We can deepen and improve that cooperation and solidarity even further to prevent new barriers from taking the place of the former physical border and getting in the way of people.

We tend to grow quickly accustomed to good things It's the same way with the freedom that the Schengen Area has given us. We take the lack of borders for granted, but to keep it that way, we have to do work every day because calls to dismantle the Schengen system are still heard in Europe.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 20 Dec 2017 20:00:00 +0000
President of the Republic at sTARTUp Day 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13807-president-of-the-republic-at-startup-day-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13807-president-of-the-republic-at-startup-day-2017 I know it took several years to set up a Startup Day for Tartu, but now you have already made it happen a second year in a row so in the Estonian mindset we can already call it an old tradition. I am convinced that new entrepreneurial environment for Tartu has already been born.

I have also heard that the idea for this day was born in a sauna, also something very Estonian. We embrace new technologies and do it in a radically disorganised way, in a way that a normal country would never do. But planning long ahead was so 20th century. In the 21st century the technology changes so quickly.

As we all know, industrial area jobs are vanishing quickly. As McKinsey`s newest study shows, digitalization and automation have the potential to rebuild a major growth path, within a resilient job market. It is very important to be an innovator and a frontrunner in the field of digitalization. We think that by the end of 2030, 27% of all current jobs in Estonia will be replaced. And this will all come from the fact that we use our digital society to promote our economy, to promote our entrepreneurs and enterprises. Otherwise, if we suddenly started to be afraid of the future and to complain that all this cyber thing is so dangerous, then we would end up with a net loss of jobs by 0,4% during this period. The same dynamics apply to everybody, a developed or a developing country.

When Estonia started to go digital it was not a rich country. On the contrary. Estonia realised that since we were a relatively poor country we had to do things differently. This is a very encouraging sign that you can be innovative at every income level, GDP per capita does not matter. What matters is courage, the ability to cooperate between private and public sector and the states readiness to create a legally permissive environment for investment. Actually the first time we did it was when we created a really good tax system and year later we repeated it when we created a permissive environment for the Estonian Genome Foundation. Estonia and Iceland were the two countries that created such an environment for gene technology development and they managed to get private companies involved. You know what happened then? Other states joined the market. They paid public money to get things done. Let`s make sure that the same thing doesn`t happen with digital innovation.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 08 Dec 2017 08:42:13 +0000
President of the Republic at the Annual Human Rights Conference 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13831-president-of-the-republic-at-the-annual-human-rights-conference-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13831-president-of-the-republic-at-the-annual-human-rights-conference-2017 I have to say that with Kristina united we stand (Danish ambassador in Estonia, Kristina Miskowiak Beckward) against everybody who says that the United Nations are a big behemoth who spits out faxes by kilometers a day (yes faxes—Estonians, these are the machines that send you paper) and small countries have no chance to even read all that, let alone react to it. We small states have taken this into our own hands and supported by the bigger ones, we've actually managed to bring a change to the UN. The Secretary General of the UN is now promising us a more coherent UN, a reformed UN that is more efficient and effective, therefore easier to handle, also for smaller countries. Actually, it is the same current Secretary General, who came into office by a renewed election procedure. And it was Estonia, strongly supported by Costa Rica and 25 other countries that brought along this change. We actually had a big part in creating a merit based election for the Secretary General post of the United Nations.

It was New Zealand who brought climate as a security issue to the Security Council. It was Senegal who brought the lack of clean water as a security issue to the Security Council. It was Lithuania who brought the Ukrainian question to the Security Council. We have now moved to a situation where we will maybe finally have - with the support of the OECD - a UN mission in Ukraine. Hopefully it will be this way that leads to ending the partial occupation of the country.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 08 Dec 2017 04:49:59 +0000
Welcoming remarks at the Christmas reception to diplomatic corps https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13806-welcoming-remarks-at-the-christmas-reception-to-diplomatic-corps https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13806-welcoming-remarks-at-the-christmas-reception-to-diplomatic-corps Excellencies, dear friends,

Glad to see you all here tonight and I hope that today's reception is one of the last firewalls before your Christmas break.

Having worked and lived abroad myself, I know very well the feeling many of you have at this time of the year. There is still plenty to do but the thoughts start to get distracted by the warm feeling of either getting home for Christmas or having your family over, spending time together and cherishing what is most important in life. Quite often, we appreciate these occasions even more when serving our countries abroad as you do here in Estonia.

Occasions like today are first and foremost festive ones. It is an opportunity to be among friends and partners. An opportunity to thank you all personally for the hard work you have done away from home and quite often from family to further strengthen the relations and cooperation between your countries and Estonia. I personally appreciate it a lot.

Christmas and the end of the year comes with traditions. Reflecting how the past year has gone being one of them. 2017 has been yet another extraordinary year when developments in the world did not go often as planned or predicted. And therefore we constantly need to adapt ourselves. The past year has further convinced me that during the unpredictable and turbulent times we live doing things alone does not pay off. It has equally demonstrated that in the 21st century small countries can be bigger than defined by the mere number of square kilometres and punch above their weight.

Highlighting something specific is always a tricky thing to do. Nevertheless, I would mention two developments that have made 2017 an exceptional one for Estonia. First, the deployment of NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence to Estonia that helps to defend NATO's borders. Thank you all who have made this deployment go smoothly. I promise we will work on it together also in the future that every single soldier feels welcome, feels valued, and feels like they can spend their time usefully in Tapa. We make sure that exercising together with our first infantry brigade is useful for all, and helps NATO to understand better what it means to be able to deter and if necessary, defend its eastern flank. The lessons learned have already added enormously to our common understanding on how eFP's capacity to defend can be further developed.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 06 Dec 2017 20:00:00 +0000
President of the Republic at the Business Europe Council Meeting in Tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13866-president-of-the-republic-at-the-business-europe-council-meeting-in-tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13866-president-of-the-republic-at-the-business-europe-council-meeting-in-tallinn On Brexit, I have to say that the Estonian Presidency is still hopeful that sufficient results will be achieved in the final General Affairs Council of this year. We are holding out hope that these three most important issues can be solved to a certain extent. In the beginning it seemed that the financial settlement is a complicated issue but in the reality, the most difficult issue to settle is the question of the Irish border. If our Irish colleagues and partners say that they are satisfied with what can be agreed still this year, then one of the final decisions of the Estonian Council Presidency could actually be that we might be able to move into the second phase of the negotiations. Estonians are very much hoping that this will happen because we realize that clarity is essential in this situation.

I would like to return to something Tiit Kuuli said about Estonia: he mentioned that in Estonia people like me fluctuate relatively freely between the public and private sector. This is a sign that we have a permissive legal environment for people moving and disseminating ideas between private and public sector. This is a big part of our society and also the foundation of the digital Estonia, which you had a chance to see yesterday. I happen to know that the paperless government of Estonia in 2000 was born because the technology expert and adviser at the Prime Minister's office came to the public sector from the private sector and was wondering why digital databases, which were used widely in the private sector, were not at all common in the public sector. The Prime Minister decided that, "let us go paperless as a government", and we did.

It was actually astonishing for that adviser—Linnar Viik, and me and all the others – we stood by and observed how people from really good newspapers like the Financial Times and Economist, they stood in awe, and said, "oh my God, here is a government where ministers push buttons". They asked: "Who is helping them to go through the system?" We knew that in the private sector, this had existed for 10 years. You could not imagine a big company's board meeting without some kind of online paper filing system. We noticed that in the public sector this is something that no one has done, and it seemed a competitive advantage.

We sold our paperless government internationally very successfully and with no technical innovation, it was quite old-fashioned already for the private sector. It actually earned the money spent on it back in a couple of months, just counting the pages we covered in the international media. This was still important for us. In 2000 Estonia was not a member of EU or NATO and was not so well known. We could have gone the traditional route and bought some ads with a message like "Estonia Positively Transforming". We did not do it. Instead we created a paperless government and got coverage for that. We found it worked very well. This was the beginning of the digital Estonia.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 01 Dec 2017 12:34:42 +0000
President of the Republic At the Plenary Meeting of the LVIII COSAC https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13782-president-of-the-republic-at-the-plenary-meeting-of-the-lviii-cosac https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13782-president-of-the-republic-at-the-plenary-meeting-of-the-lviii-cosac Speaker of Riigikogu, Mr Eiki Nestor,

Mr Barnier,

Mrs Hübner,

Your Excellences,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my pleasure to welcome you in Tallinn for the Plenary Meeting of EU's Parliaments EU Committees (COSAC) meeting. This is one of the biggest events of our EU Council Presidency here in Estonia. In slightly more than a month, the active part of the Presidency, first ever has finished. The people who have been engaged with the Presidency both here in Estonia and in Brussels, they can finally relax and enjoy their Christmas holidays. I am very grateful for their hard work. But of course we will remain firm supporters and cheerleaders for the next Presidencies, Bulgaria and Austria our trio partners.

184 days to solve all the challenges that Europe faces is not a long time. It is not yet the time to look back to our ongoing Presidency and draw final conclusions. But our overarching aim – breaking the ice of negativity about our Union – seems to be really happening and I am glad about it.

The hard work on common security policy approach is finally reaping the results. The digital agenda has focused the minds of policymakers on the fact that important part of our people's and our businesses' activities takes place online and the governments have a certain obligation to facilitate and protect in the cyberspace.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 27 Nov 2017 10:25:50 +0000
At the European Defence Agency Annual Conference in Brussels https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13766-keynote-speech-at-the-european-defence-agency-annual-conference-qsecurity-in-the-digital-age-the-added-value-of-european-cooperationq https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13766-keynote-speech-at-the-european-defence-agency-annual-conference-qsecurity-in-the-digital-age-the-added-value-of-european-cooperationq I know that I am the last firewall between you and lunchtime, so let me get straight down to business. There are three issues that I deem important and want to share with you: the importance of cyber hygiene for all our citizens, the importance of truly understanding cyber security for all decision-makers, and the role that the European Defence Agency could play in all of this.

There is probably no need to stress the importance of cyber security to anyone in this room. However, I am not equally sure that this sense of importance and urgency is shared by most people outside this conference venue. It is crucial to move from cyber defence to cyber hygiene, as technology will not help us against the human factor.

Take, for example, the e-mail hack of the US Democratic National Convention in 2016. Whatever we might think of who was behind the operation or how much influence the incident had on the US presidential election results, the fact seems to be that it was largely made possible by hacking the accounts of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. It was not an elaborate technical operation, but rather a very simple phishing act: someone posed as Google Mail and fooled both Mr Podesta and his IT-support staff into giving them his passwords. This, combined with not having a two-factor authentication, caused one of the most talked-about e-mail hacks of recent years. And it shows, among other things, how little people adhere to basic cyber hygiene and what the consequences might be.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 23 Nov 2017 10:34:40 +0000
At the Digital Transport Days 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13744-at-the-digital-transport-days-2017- https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13744-at-the-digital-transport-days-2017- Dear distinguished guests and participants of this conference.

I really would like to offer you a belated welcome to Tallinn at the Digital Transport Days. I want to thank the organizers from the European Commission and organizers from the Estonian Presidency team for making this important event happen. As you know, the digital agenda is very close to our hearts in Estonia. Therefore I am extremely glad to welcome you all here.

In Estonia, we have already gone through a societal disruption to make sure our citizens and our businesses have a totally digital environment to deal with both the State and with their private partners. I hope you understand that we will also be at the forefront of digital transport solutions. It cannot be otherwise. Digital transport will definitely be a part of digital society, and it is of course easier to have a transport partner already in digital society than creating everything at one step, so I think we are one step ahead and challenge more to catch up.

The movement and connectivity of people is the core of today's society. It is clear that the future transport systems need to meet society's economic, social and environmental needs, while minimising their undesirable impacts, mainly related to pollution and accidents.

During Commissioner Violeta Bulc's last visit to Tallinn, she brought to our attention a sad fact that every day in Europe, we lose 70 people in traffic incidents and 350 more are seriously injured. In transport, we create 24% of the pollution. An average person spends a horrible 6 weeks every year in traffic. Part of it is unavoidable, but can be made shorter and smoother by clever congestion management. Part of it is totally unnecessary already by Estonian standard, like driving some place to register the birth of your child, signing a document, applying for kindergarten place. The first, like the latter, will ultimately depend on online solutions.

Therefore, I welcome all discussions that highlight the importance of the future technology and innovation in transport.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 09 Nov 2017 20:00:00 +0000
Public lecture at the Akaki Tsereteli University, Kutaisi https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13695-president-of-the-republic-public-lecture-at-the-akaki-tsereteli-university-kutaisi https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13695-president-of-the-republic-public-lecture-at-the-akaki-tsereteli-university-kutaisi Excellences, ladies and gentlemen,

To start with, I would like to convey my appreciation for the possibility to speak to this audience today, at the last day of my State Visit to Georgia. I firmly believe that in addition to the official meetings, tête-à-tête talks, press points and interviews, it is equally important to reach out to the wider public as well. It is an honour to be in the Akaki Tseretli University in Kutaisi.

In the former capital city of United Georgia. In the city that holds a distinguished place in Georgia with is cultural, educational and business traditions.

Kutaisi and Estonia are geographically far from each other but we are closer than many would imagine. Your hometown has good relations with our university town Tartu. I was for 5 years Chairman of the Board for Tartu University, that's why I know - Estonia and Tartu were very much valued in Georgia almost 200 years ago.

Prince and poet Grigol Orbeliani suggested in 1830s to his nephew, the great Georgian poet Nikoloz Baratashvili to study in the University of Tartu that was well known for its free spirit and good education.

This free spirit was back then seen as something contemporary and forward-looking. Tartu was well known for it then and Estonia today. So the link is there. It is spiritual and future orientated.

I am pleased that the audience in front of me is comprised mostly of young people as the future of your country is in your hands. Majority of you have been born after Georgia regained its independence. You have grown up in a society that has had tough and turbulent times. Nevertheless, you are lucky and privileged to have had the opportunity to grow up and to be educated in a free country and democratic society.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 02 Nov 2017 09:44:19 +0000
At the Formal Dinner of a State Visit to Georgia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13692-president-kaljulaid-at-the-dinner-in-the-honour-of-the-state-visit-to-georgia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13692-president-kaljulaid-at-the-dinner-in-the-honour-of-the-state-visit-to-georgia Esteemed President Giorgi Margvelashvili,
honourable Mrs Maka Chichua,
Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen!

A state visit is the most formal form of relations between two countries and is used to validate our close relationship. It is quite remarkable that this visit is taking place now, as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Georgia and Estonia. This represents a quarter of a century of uninterrupted friendship and co-operation.

However, this time, I will start by speaking about people, as they represent the foundation of close relations between our two countries. Some days ago, I attended the premier of The Confession, a new film by Zaza Urushadze and Ivo Felt. This film, just like his earlier work, Tangerines, and Scary Mother by Ana Urushadze, represent the most excellent examples of co-operation between the people of our countries. Films can only be successfully made in co-operation when we can rely on open communication and understanding. The film crews from our two countries have done a superb job that serves to demonstrate the similarities of our ways of thinking, as it would have been impossible to create these magnificent and highly-acclaimed works otherwise. We value both the wisdom to maintain mutual respect and the skill to listen to each other. Or, in the words of the great poet Shota Rustaveli: ‘The wise listen to advice; the foolish act of their own accord.’ Therefore, the spiritual closeness between Georgia and Estonia is much closer that we might expect, despite the distance.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 31 Oct 2017 16:31:38 +0000
President of the Republic at the 4th Eastern Partnership Business Forum https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13679-president-of-the-republic-at-the-4th-eastern-partnership-business-forum https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13679-president-of-the-republic-at-the-4th-eastern-partnership-business-forum We a so proud to have you here on the first winterday!

The Eastern Partnership is an extremely important instrument in relations between the European Union and the partner countries.

All the Baltic states, formerly occupied by Soviet Union, have kept our Eastern partners close to our hearts and always in our minds. We have not and will not let the fate of Eastern Partnership countries fall off the European Union table.

We feel responsible. Vilnius and Riga organised Eastern Partnership Summits, Tallinn has decided to hold one in Brussels. It is symbolic – Eastern Partnership is an European Union issue, not an issue for Eastern Europe. It is a central element of European Union neighbourhood policy.

Yes, we feel responsible. Responsible not to shut the door of the bus and drive off to the better future. Responsible to keep the discussion about unifying Europe alive. Responsible for seeking alternatives if enlargement is not an option.

But – there are several issues for which we cannot take responsibility. Eastern Partnership countries themselves and only themselves are responsible for the development of their societies. Responsible for the rule of law in their countries. Responsible for the economic environment in their countries, including level playing feel for home and foreign capital, lack of corruption, comprehensible and stable tax regimes. Responsible for developing democratic values.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 26 Oct 2017 03:38:22 +0000
At the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13674-president-of-the-republic-at-the-eastern-partnership-civil-society-conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13674-president-of-the-republic-at-the-eastern-partnership-civil-society-conference Honourable representatives of civil society! Dear government representatives who care about co-operation between civil society and the government!

I welcome you all to Tallinn, to Estonia, where we hope to make our society seamless so that the public, non-governmental, and social entrepreneurial sectors work together for the benefit of our people.

Even if peering from behind the Iron Curtain or observing developed Western societies with freshmen eyes, a system in which citizens simply pay taxes and governments take all responsibility for all processes, all people, and all communities does seem attractive. However, we have realized here that this is not sustainable in real life in a mid-term perspective, and is far from being so in a long-term perspective.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 25 Oct 2017 04:23:05 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the Manufuture 2017 Conference in Tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13731-president-kaljulaid-at-the-manufuture-2017-conference-in-tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13731-president-kaljulaid-at-the-manufuture-2017-conference-in-tallinn What other see as efficiency gains, the others may see as job losses, so obviously there are many elements, which we need to consider when we are talking about „moving up the value chain".

Your conference has a history since 2003. The first Manufuture conference took place in 2003 in Milan. This event became a good tradition of gathering every second autumn in a country holding the presidency of the EU and discussing European manufacturing of the future with entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and politicians.

As you saw from the introduction, you are in a country, which is a starry-eyed fearlessly future-looking first-time EU Council presidency. It is indeed the first time for Estonia to be in this spot and we are really enjoying this position, trying to irritate people with the discussion about the future. It is so close to us but sometimes we still fail to recognize how close it already is.

In Tallinn, you are discussing the 4.0 industrial revolution and how to make European nations more productive and competitive in our digital age. As President of Estonia, I proudly represent a digital society, which actually has a supportive state behind it. Yes, we here have already gone through a societal disruption to make sure that our citizens and businesses have a completely digital environment with the state and private partners. This means that when enterprises try to move up the value chain by going digital they only need to join the dots, since outside of their own production chain the environment is already completely digital.

When you are talking to the Estonian state, you never do it on paper. When you are signing documents with your partners or contractors in this country, paper does not come into play. You do not necessarily have to go somewhere. Obviously, we still have business lunches with our partners and friends but still, you do not need to move. The environment surrounding you and your developments is digital.

For seventeen years, Estonians have been using digital signatures to sign contracts and apply for public services, pay taxes and make requests to our government. What does this mean? That means that by having a digital signature they are protected in the internet, as they are able to identify each other safely. While using technology you all know that safety is all-important. Our government provides our people this safety in cybersphere because we have a passport function, which operates in cybersphere.

For some reason it has taken most other governments too long to recognize that safe identification, a passport, is also necessary in the digital era in the internet to allow people to communicate and transact safely.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 24 Oct 2017 06:13:00 +0000
President of the Republic at the Futureforum Espoo https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13666-president-of-the-republic-at-the-futureforum-espoo https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13666-president-of-the-republic-at-the-futureforum-espoo Dear ladies and gentlemen,

We have gone through a societal disruption to make sure our citizens and businesses have a digital environment both in their dealings with the state and with their private partners. By the way, at no point during this process has Estonia created any cutting-edge technology. Tech-wise, all we use in our digital society is well tried and tested globally by other actors, mostly private. Which makes it cheaper and more reliable. Part of it is even open sources, namely our e-voting system, so all and sundry can try to hack it if they can – but they have not managed in the past 7 or almost 8 years' time.

The disruptive innovation of Estonians is thus not at all technology,

the innovation lies elsewhere – in the process of bringing businesses and government together to help all people, young and old, so that they could benefit from the digital service options. It is now 17 years - almost a generation- that Estonians have a digital ID and can use this to sign and time stamp their documents, including private contracts. They can also apply for different public services, pay fines and taxes online, query registries, change their service packages and simply send encrypted e-mails.

It took some special effort to get all people in all generations to use it,

but through patient coaching plans (which we called Tiger leap) this was achieved also for older generation. They soon realised the advantages of taking to the PC instead of taking the bus in order to communicate with, say, their pension's office. Even if the computer was not at first on everyone's desk, more often in village library or at school, it was still remarkably closer than any office. As you know, Estonia has a big territory with a small population. So offices are a few between.]]> ENG Kõned Thu, 19 Oct 2017 11:52:17 +0000 Closing keynote by the President of the Republic at “Health in the Digital Society. Digital Society for Health.” https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13659-closing-keynote-by-the-president-of-the-republic-at-health-in-the-digital-society-digital-society-for-health https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13659-closing-keynote-by-the-president-of-the-republic-at-health-in-the-digital-society-digital-society-for-health Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished participants of the concluding session of eHealth conference!

First, I sincerely congratulate you for these three days of wise discussions, inspiring exhibition and fruitful meetings about health in the digital society. It is of utmost importance to understand what digital society can offer to improve well-being of people in Europe and beyond.

Indeed, one may ask, what will change now, after this conference in the life of a 60-year-old lady in Tartu, Southern Estonia or somebody else, let's say, man in Rouen, France? Perhaps what they both expect from life is to enjoy it happily and healthily. As WHO has phrased it in the Preamble to its Constitution 71 years ago – people do expect a physical, mental and social well-being. It is no different in digital society. Human dignity comes before digital.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 17 Oct 2017 19:00:00 +0000
President of the Republic at the Aftenposten's Technology Conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13671-president-of-the-republic-at-the-aftenpostens-technology-conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13671-president-of-the-republic-at-the-aftenpostens-technology-conference People do not necessarily see tax reforms, social security reforms and pension reforms as digital, but indeed, there is a digital element. Estonians were travelling around Europe, notably most in Nordic countries, and they were demanding similar level of services from their state. Of course, we could not provide it by traditional means and therefore we started to look at different options.

First thing we did, we took papers away on government level. I was advising the Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar at that time. We also had a digital advisor. That move actually was nothing special. If you think, then at the turn of the century, every private company already had some digital document management system. We were actually very astonished that removing papers from the government meeting created international attention. If we count the articles, which were written about the paperless government it paid back the price of the advertisements of "Estonia is positively transforming, please come, and visit our country!" I think it took about three months to earn back all the money we had spent. In addition, it was nothing special. The technology was well known and often used. By the way, it still applies that the technology that Estonia is currently using is not cutting edge. Estonian digital society runs on very basic and therefore also tried, tested and reliable technology. It is also true in the normal analogue world – it is the washing machine, which transformed the society not sending a rocket to the moon. In fact, our digital society is very similar.

In Estonia, we have entered the digital world step by step, kind of at the same time. This is important because we did not do it alone from the government side –we did it together with our private sector. I remember the discussions in the Estonian government and it was a three party coalition where not everybody was sure that we would need to do this. We planned to sneak digital identity on everybody's ID-card, so that everybody would have one. Whether they would use them or not was initially not so important. However, there was this exclusive opportunity for everybody to use it if they chose to. It is still like that today – it is possible to use paper but nobody wants to – there is no obligation to use digital government services. However, people are normally quite lazy so they do use digital services if they can avoid visiting government offices. However, those who want to, can do so.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 16 Oct 2017 09:39:02 +0000
At the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13654-president-of-the-republic-public-lecture-at-the-norwegian-institute-of-international-affairs-qsecurity-in-the-baltic-sea-region-an-estonian-perspectiveq https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13654-president-of-the-republic-public-lecture-at-the-norwegian-institute-of-international-affairs-qsecurity-in-the-baltic-sea-region-an-estonian-perspectiveq Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen!

First of all, I would like to thank the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs for organising and hosting this public lecture. I do believe that in addition to all the official meetings and tête-à-tête talks that I always have on my visits, it is equally important for me to also have opportunities to describe Estonia’s views to wider audiences. I hope to use this lecture to give a wider overview on how Estonia sees the current security situation and challenges in the Baltic Sea region, as well as on what has been – and for that matter still is – the general Estonian approach to national security.

The conceptual choices that Estonia made in the early 1990s in establishing the main principles of Estonian security policy are largely a reflection of the disaster that struck Estonia during the Second World War.

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ENG Kõned Sun, 15 Oct 2017 19:00:00 +0000
President of the Republic at the 40th anniversary of the European Court of Auditors https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13638-president-of-the-republic-at-the-40th-anniversary-of-the-european-court-of-auditors https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13638-president-of-the-republic-at-the-40th-anniversary-of-the-european-court-of-auditors Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, but above all – dear friends!

In the name of the Estonian Council Presidency – congratulations for this important milestone, 40th anniversary of this institution! You have been a true thorn in the executive side of the EU and you can be truly proud of your achievements! May your teeth stay sharp, because European taxpayer needs you. And may your tongue remain sharp as well, because the main tool of this institution is its leverage through public opinion. The Court has a mandate to report to EU taxpayers. This reporting trail starts from the European Parliament and ends with the proverbial man on the bus. Obviously, for the leverage to be truly effective the Court must find the right means, the right words, and the right level of anxiety over protection of the public finances.

When the main worry of the European Parliament used to be the quick spending of the EU budget, there was practically no demand for exact audit data. I still remember the times when the Court used qualitative, rather than quantitative basis for its reporting. It was not easy to understand the level of problems and they went mainly unnoticed by the wider public.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 12 Oct 2017 18:35:21 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the conference: Soil for sustainable food production and ecosystem services https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13616-president-kaljulaid-at-the-conference-soli-for-sustainable-food-production-and-ecosystem-services https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13616-president-kaljulaid-at-the-conference-soli-for-sustainable-food-production-and-ecosystem-services Dear participants of the Soil Conference,

Welcome to Estonia! The Estonian EU Council Presidency has seriously taken note of the fact that we currently live the decade of soils. Therefore it has organised this conference.

I have to confess, when our ministry of agriculture put forward this idea for our Council Presidency planning, it was not exactly self-evident for the urbanites among the presidency planners, whether such a classic topic really fits into our modern, tech-laden, dynamic and forward-looking Presidency.

We soon realised though that there is nothing more acute than making sure that we do not forget amid our numerous technological disruptions that some things remain purely organic, no matter what.

As such, this conference on soil for sustainable food production and ecosystem services, is an essential part of Estonian Council Presidency, because it keeps us firmly grounded.

Soils have always been associated with agriculture. They form our familiar landscapes. Even though the soil is mainly invisible, as it is covered with vegetation, soils are part of our cultures, our traditions and our beliefs.

They are the source of the food we use every day to cook our traditional dishes.

The black colour of Estonian blue black and white tricolor represents the soil that our ancestors have cultivated for centuries. Our folklore confirms that soils have an important role in our cultural identity and heritage values.

"As you sow, you shall reap", is an old Estonian farmers' metaphor which may be interpreted directly and indirectly. I would like to interpret it directly and ask: what if you sow as you are used to but you have nothing to harvest? Would it not be a deep cause for a reflection on what has gone wrong?

We are moving towards the era that requires us to reflect on our usual farming practices. In long-term crop yield and its quality depends highly on the way we take care of our soils.

Decreased soil functioning endangers not only productivity but leads to greater impact on natural environment and our health.

It was after the "dust bowl" in 30s, when a former President of the United States of America Franklin Delano Roosevelt said "a nation that destroys its soils destroys itself".]]> ENG Kõned Thu, 05 Oct 2017 03:48:30 +0000 President Kaljulaid at the Tallinn Digital Summit https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13605-president-kaljulaid-at-the-tallinn-digital-summit https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13605-president-kaljulaid-at-the-tallinn-digital-summit Presidents, prime ministers, ladies and gentlemen,

The first naturally digital generation will be almost middle-aged by 2025. Yet, most digital states they are still to be born. How long do people in otherwise developed countries have to manage the cyber world without the support of their states? For how long must people of Europe live without universal, time-stamped, digital signatures accepted all over our Europe? We do provide passports, they are a safe means for identification, to our citizens in analogue world. We recognize these passports cross-border and globally.

What about the cyber world? Are our citizens protected by our states? Do they have the means to identify each other online, securely, safely and in real time? I think not yet. And this is why you have gathered here in Tallinn today to seek urgent solution to this situation where our people and our business - they are online, but our states have left them alone there.

We often deplore the power of the internet giants, yet give our citizens no other option than to rely on those same giants for safe identification and therefore safe communication and transacting online. Even those who provide at home the digital ID, even those are not able to help their citizens to transact and communicate safely cross-border. There are even a few states where digital signatures are mutually recognized by law, but unfortunately not practically – they are not practically applicable online, these agreements. This must change.

Digital society could do so much to help those living in rural areas – they face the heaviest burden to travel to government offices and businesses. Digital services would also help those with lower incomes – digital services are cheaper to use, much cheaper than those on paper. They are a big equalizer. Big businesses, rich people – they have their means of managing big bureaucracies, but simple people suffer in the hands of heavy bureaucracies. Digital services mean also that people with irregular working hours or high family care burden – they are also usually vulnerable groups of the society – they can also access government services 24/7. It will remove lots of stress from their life of having to take time off to administer their lives.]]> ENG Kõned Fri, 29 Sep 2017 10:23:11 +0000 President of the Republic at the award ceremony of EUCYS 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13593-president-of-the-republic-at-the-award-ceremony-of-eucys-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13593-president-of-the-republic-at-the-award-ceremony-of-eucys-2017 Dear young scientists!

The philosophy of science gives us many ways and means to describe what scientific activity is and what it is not. Despite all the theories, we are still not in the position to define science so that we could be certain we have indeed a way to know what is and what is not.

Some thinkers seek to articulate axiomatic assumptions on which science may be based, a form of foundationalism. The following basic assumptions are needed to justify the scientific method:

(1) that there is an objective reality shared by all rational observers;
(2) that this objective reality is governed by natural laws;
(3) that these laws can be discovered by means of systematic observation and experimentation.

Proponents argue that these assumptions are reasonable and necessary for practicing science. There are, of course other theories of what science is, but I have always personally found foundationalism as the suitably simple and practically applicable definition. It has some youthful absolutism and there is no relativism in this axiomatic approach to defining science. Therefore it must describe adequately what our young scientists´ community is trying to achieve.

Scientists have many times in history observed certain aspects of life with certain assumptions in mind, and found that their observations do not match what they presumed. Therefore, lack of coherence has led to seeking additional elements, additional parts of the system in order to explain why the calculated result does not fit the result observed.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 26 Sep 2017 06:39:44 +0000
Statement at the Security Council Open Debate on the Reform of UN Peacekeeping https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13573-statement-at-the-security-council-open-debate-on-the-reform-of-un-peacekeeping-new-york-20-september-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13573-statement-at-the-security-council-open-debate-on-the-reform-of-un-peacekeeping-new-york-20-september-2017 Mr President,

Thank you for convening today's open debate. Estonia also aligns itself with the statement by the European Union.

We remain committed to Sec Gen Guterres's reform agenda. Reforms should take us to more effective UN, with clear emphasis on conflict prevention and mediation.

Our peacekeeping operations must have tangible targets and exit strategies. To be effective, the operations must have built-in flexibility, as the surrounding situation is inevitably volatile.

The best information about the changing needs come from our mission commanders and other field entities. Applying their suggestions guarantees automatic adaptation to the changes on the ground. In addition, listening to those on the field and taking into account what they have to say is good to the motivation of our people. We need those with courage to reach out to decision makers. These people are only with us if we respond in a receptive manner. Thus, we create a positive circuit of adaptation necessary to achieve our objectives.

To achieve sustainable peace, partnership with regional organizations, host governments and local communities is essential. It is best done by demonstrating day after day how important it is for us to protect civilians, assure the sustainability of the rule of law, respect of human rights and international law and involving the local actors in supporting these core values.

Peacekeeping operations need to be complemented with activities aimed at effectively improving the living conditions of the affected populations, including the quick implementation of effective and visible projects that create jobs and deliver basic social services in the post-conflict phase.

It is our utmost responsibility to implement all measures to protect children in Mission Areas. All mechanisms to support women's full participation in peace and security are vital and must be implemented.]]> ENG Kõned Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:28:25 +0000 Address by the President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13568-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-general-debate-of-the-72st-united-nations-general-assembly-september-19-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13568-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-general-debate-of-the-72st-united-nations-general-assembly-september-19-2017 Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen

Our world is unpredictable. Much of this unpredictability stems from climate change. Climate change can be counterbalanced by rapid technological disruption of our wasteful ways of life. But it is easy to see that technological development, at this moment especially the rapid upscaling of digital technologies into the hands of billions, while it certainly has a positive transformation potential, adds to the difficulties of understanding our future.

This new world offers opportunities. Unfortunately, it also enhances the risks. To grab the first and manage the last we need flexible and quick action also on global stage.

Estonia, a nation of just over one million, is sensitive to the fact that unpredictability is especially hard to cope with for those who are inherently weak – poor, disabled, very young or very old. It is hard for those made weak by discrimination – often women, ethnic and religious minorities. Estonia itself has gone through a rapid transformation period of a quarter of a century, after regaining independence. As our economic and social statistics prove, we were quite good to protect the weaker in our society while rapidly adapting and growing our economy. We know it can be done.

We suffered long from Hobbesian position of international community that liberty might bring chaos, that bad rule is better than no rule. Therefore, our guiding principles have been those of John Locke, of rule of law, of checks and balances, of individual rights. Notably, Locke also initially believed what Thomas Hobbes had postulated – but changed his mind while on a diplomatic mission observing a civil society of Brandenburg, the way of life where different ideas had the right to "quietly coexist", as he put it. This debate is still with us in the current world.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:39:33 +0000
President of the Republic at the "Future of Work: Making It e-Easy" https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13549-president-of-the-republic-at-the-qfuture-of-work-making-it-e-easyq https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13549-president-of-the-republic-at-the-qfuture-of-work-making-it-e-easyq Welcome to Tallinn!

For centuries we have seen work and employment in a shift from the agriculture to the industry and from the industry to the services. Today, we understand that rapid technological development of ITC technologies provides the opportunity for something really new. This is happening. And it's happening almost everywhere in economy, in industry and absolutely wherever you look you see change. Countryside, townside, in society - everywhere. It may be shift exactly as general as there was with steam engines or use of electricity in the past. This time it is not so much moving jobs from one sector of economy to another. It will probably lead to a radical reorientation of work and is moving employment from the standard, well known and understood form to something which will be quite different.

I realize that yet recent data and the employment trend structures are mixed and they won't necessarily everywhere support this statement. The data shows that during last years there hasn't been much growth in non-standard forms of employment, at least not in EU.

But the data show to us, what has happened in the past and the existing trends. In times of disruption we usually are capable of fixing the weak signals of the future only. We have to go by these weak signals. And, after all, instead of seeing these early signals in the employment structure, it is possible to see them somewhere else, for example, on the scientists and innovators work tables, in younger generation's behavioral models and values etc.

At the same time I would like to point out that the number of self-employed people has already grown very rapidly in countries which have historically innovative employment forms. For example, take UK. The number of self-employed has increased by 30% lately, in absolute terms more than 834 thousand persons. Or the Netherlands: 45%. That means around 300 thousand persons.

At the same time industrial area jobs are indeed vanishing fast and we hear weird voices saying we need to therefore pay everybody a sustenance fee and get money for that from taxing - who? Robots. It sounds pretty absurd. I think it's as absurd as would have been taxing tractors. I really doubt that we would have reaped the full benefits to our societies from industrial revolution if we had decided to tax tractors and pay a sustenance fee to everybody who lost their job in agriculture. Of course, there is no denying that that transition was socially really painful and costly for majority of people, but that was because of lack of education, medical treatment and other social services we offer to people nowadays. It is not so scary - this change, this disruption for lower middle class and poor people. This time around, the deterioration of industrial employment can easily be compensated by the development of educational and social systems if we play our cards right. But we have to start playing now.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 13 Sep 2017 05:11:30 +0000
Introducing a Lecture by the Nobelist Kurt Wüthrich https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14995-president-of-the-republic-at-the-lecture-by-kurt-wuethrich-basic-research-in-nuclear-magnetic-resonance-and-its-impact-on-daily-human-life https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14995-president-of-the-republic-at-the-lecture-by-kurt-wuethrich-basic-research-in-nuclear-magnetic-resonance-and-its-impact-on-daily-human-life Honourable Professor Wüthrich!

My sincerest congratulations on receiving the first Endel Lippmaa Medal. Lippmaa was a brilliant scientist and a member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences. However, he was something much more as well. He was a masterful, sharp, and astonishingly persuasive when moving through the corridors of the enemy. He managed to convince the Soviet regime to finance his ambitious scientific projects, then delivered this knowledge to the service of Estonia when it really mattered. He was among those who managed to extract from the Communist Party an acknowledgement of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact’s existence. It was an important step, as by this acknowledgement, the communists’ common claim that Estonians had voluntarily joined the USSR was overturned.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 12 Sep 2017 10:07:07 +0000
President of the Republic at the Young EUROSAI (YES) Conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13547-president-of-the-republic-at-the-young-eurosai-yes-conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13547-president-of-the-republic-at-the-young-eurosai-yes-conference Dear young, agile and responsible auditors, welcome to Tallinn!

I was once one of you. In 2004, I stood in front of the EU Parliament's Budget Control Committee and answered their questions in order to qualify for the first Estonian member of the European Court of Auditors. The only question I had to face even twice related to my age. I was 5 years younger than the man who now leads France or the previous Italian Prime Minister. Of course, I was also only 4 years younger than another applicant going through hearings at the same day, but he did not face the same question – he was male, of course. Men where not exempt from ageism directed towards young though – when arriving at ECA, I learned that the previous youngest member of the honourable institution was particularly happy for our youthful appearance – at least it stopped other colleagues calling him baby Vitor.

He was 40 at arrival at the Court. Only 4 years after leaving his babyhood though,

he became the President of the Court for next 9 years, indicating that also ECA was changing with the times. My own youthful energy was happily harnessed by the colleagues to make me responsible for the audit of Cohesion funds, the most error-prone part of the EU budget at the time, and later for the whole Statement of Assurance, putting me into the role of the toughest member of the Court, as defined by Commission president Barroso.

I have lived an eventful life as EU auditor and when presenting last week my thoughts to the EU Parliaments' conference on European Foreign and Security policy, I easily fell back into the role seeking MEP-supported leverage for my statements. I may be the only president in the world who can get passionate about statistical sampling measures and the effect that the used methodology may have on the auditor's ability to draw conclusions and report on the findings.

I am happy that you are nowadays facing a world much more open towards young leadership. I think the world has since realised that quickly changing technological landscape, which is also changing the societies rapidly, demands that younger generations take their responsibilities for designing our future decades earlier than was habitual in the beginning of this century.]]> ENG Kõned Tue, 12 Sep 2017 07:08:25 +0000 President Kaljulaid at the Opening of the First Session of Riigikogu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13545-president-kaljulaid-at-the-opening-of-the-first-session-of-riigikogu https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13545-president-kaljulaid-at-the-opening-of-the-first-session-of-riigikogu Dear Riigikogu, Honourable members of the Riigikogu,

First, I would like to express my respect for you. Respect for something seemingly simple and natural – your participation in a democratic process. However, the times are such that we obviously have to repeat it so that we do not forget it.

As members of the Riigikogu, you know that the public will not always support your positions. Despite this, you have expressed them. You are prepared to present and defend your positions, and give up the role of a peaceful observer for the sake of your ideas. You have suggested action and you have acted when supported by the voters.

You have not stepped into the convenient role of a critical bystander. You have also known that the solutions you have offered are not technically perfect, but you have acted with the understanding that they are the best compromise society has been prepared to accept.

You do not share your view of the world in anonymous comment sections, but with the public. Thoughtful and constructive criticism is not your only reward. "Feedback" based on your personal characteristics, appearance, marital status, number of children or lack thereof, sexual orientation or the guesses made about it, even the way you prefer to spend your free time, is also your reward.

Regardless whether I share your views, you have my respect. However, there have been and there are people in this hall who have deliberately, or out of stupidity or carelessness, contributed to the negative image of politicians in Estonia. We all remember violations of the law or racist remarks. Our political parties still carry out their campaigns by any means, or use public funds for them. People still do not understand the cash flows of parties – how do they get their money, and how do they spend it? This is not good.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 11 Sep 2017 10:28:31 +0000
President of the Republic at the Annual Baltic Conference on Defence 2017 – European Defence Cooperation: Out of the Shadows? https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13535-president-of-the-republic-at-the-annual-baltic-conference-on-defence-2017-european-defence-cooperation-out-of-the-shadows https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13535-president-of-the-republic-at-the-annual-baltic-conference-on-defence-2017-european-defence-cooperation-out-of-the-shadows Ladies and gentlemen,

The security situation and challenges Europe faces today are difficult ones. Difficult situations need honest and sincere debates, and I wish that your discussions today will be honest and sincere.

First let me begin by thanking Mister Sakkov, Mister Praks and their good colleagues from the ICDS and MoD for organizing this conference. The fact that so many distinguished participants have found their way to Tallinn, is itself a testimony that the ABCD has truly developed into one of the most renowned security-related forums in the region.

Let me take this opportunity to share some of my views on the security challenges facing Europe today. And on what has to be done to confront these challenges, and what are some of the aspects that should be kept in mind.

Conflicts, instability and humanitarian crises continue to plague wide areas in the Middle-East and Africa. In the Mediterranean Sea Region and in Europe-proper this has manifested itself through a migration wave which is difficult to control, to say the least. Religious extremism has spread its roots in some parts of the migrant diasporas or among their descendants.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 06 Sep 2017 07:14:06 +0000
President of the Republic upon bestowing certificates of citizenship https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13511-president-of-the-republic-upon-bestowing-certificates-of-citizenship https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13511-president-of-the-republic-upon-bestowing-certificates-of-citizenship Dear Estonian citizens,

I am delighted to honour and thank you all on the occasion of the important decision you have made – to become citizens of the Republic of Estonia.

Choosing Estonian citizenship was a decision you made freely, according to your own best judgment and feelings.

We all have many ways to define ourselves. We all belong to our family, our home community; we have colleagues and fellow practitioners of interests. We all undoubtedly also have an ethnic group we belong to. In addition, we also make up a natural part of a country, the affairs of which we ourselves can shape.]]> ENG Kõned Mon, 21 Aug 2017 04:46:41 +0000 On the Anniversary of the Restoration of Estonian Independence in Kadriorg https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13506-president-of-the-republic-6th-anniversary-of-the-restoration-of-estonian-independence-in-kadriorg-20-august-2016 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13506-president-of-the-republic-6th-anniversary-of-the-restoration-of-estonian-independence-in-kadriorg-20-august-2016 Dear people of Estonia!

August 20th is the day when we restored our independence. The day when the Estonian people’s audacity coincided with a great historical opportunity. A time when the Estonian people were of one mind and able to take advantage of this opportunity.

Of course, even at that time, we did not agree on everything. Why should we? Among other things, independence also means the opportunity to disagree. One idea, one opinion, one right – this is what we wanted to be free of. At that time, we explicitly recognised that this way of thinking meant totalitarianism.

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ENG Kõned Sun, 20 Aug 2017 10:45:48 +0000
President of the Republic on the opening of the summer co-operation event of umbrella organisations of Estonia and national minorities https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13514-president-of-the-republic-on-the-opening-of-the-summer-co-operation-event-of-umbrella-organisations-of-estonia-and-national-minorities https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13514-president-of-the-republic-on-the-opening-of-the-summer-co-operation-event-of-umbrella-organisations-of-estonia-and-national-minorities Dear all who have gathered here!

I am pleased to see that people in Estonia organise a variety of events on a variety of grounds. They do so with pleasure, voluntarily and they do so with different people. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion on whether it is appropriate to feel proud to be an Estonian at all. I do believe that this discussion can be extended to include all other nations too – is it appropriate to feel proud to be a nationalist?

My answer to this question is the following – it is very appropriate. I am an islander and Estonians have a president who is an islander and they just have to accept it. As we know, identity is very important for each and every one of us. Where we come from ourselves, and where our grandparents and our grandparents' ancestors came from. Here are people with ancestors that came from the Nordic countries, people whose ancestors may have come from beyond the Urals – perhaps the roots of all of us, all Finno-Ugric peoples, can be traced back to beyond the Ural mountains.

Our origin is important for us; we cherish our origins and in Estonia everyone can and should certainly be proud of his or her origin. Proud of our language, our culture and even the food you offer to your families and in your homes, honouring your own traditions.

Nationalism is not egoistic; nationalism is open. We have lots of events through which we proudly show the whole world what it means to be an Estonian, and what Estonian folk music, Estonian culture, Estonian national culture and Estonian song festival culture are. Yes, I'm still very proud of our song festival. And we always extend invitations to such events. Representatives of other nations are present, for example, at Viljandi Folk Music Festival, proud of their tradition, their gorgeous traditional culture.

You have all come together here, at the Estonian Folk Museum today, which represents a consolidated portrait of being an Estonian. Yet everyone feels good here today, regardless of our nations. I think that this is the very idea established in the Estonian Declaration of Independence – "to the Peoples of Estonia!"

I'm happy to see that you've all assembled here today to discuss how together we can develop the patterns for Estonia in the 21st century. And I support you in coming up with an Estonian pattern that represents a multiplicity of colours. Lots of diversity of colours, loads of linguistic plurality and, of course, cultural diversity.

For me, one of this year's most powerful symbols was an Estonian folk skirt combined with Ukrainian blouse sleeves that I saw at Viljandi Folk Music Festival. And you know, I liked it a lot. One doesn't have to wear a folk costume assembled from items of the set of the same nation. As I saw myself, different folk costumes can be successfully combined; I had never seen anything like that before and, for me, it became an excellent symbol of the idea of open nationalism.

Needless to say, you will not be limited to thinking of your roots and descent today. You are to co-operate and will think of things that are different altogether. Not just about what has been, but also what will be, what your hopes and expectations are for the future via your own happy voluntary activities and co-operation. I'm quite sure that the future will be creative, logical and our society in general will gain from it.

The more co-operation there is between very different people, the better our comprehension of the features of interest that are included in the spectrum we enjoy. The more we involve all the participants in our society – people of all backgrounds and also more vulnerable people, such as disabled persons – in our activities and efforts, the better our comprehension of the meaning of humanism, of being a human being.

As we look at the events that take place in the world, including those in Europe, and consider the incident in Barcelona, we understand that the era of explaining the essence of being a human being is definitely not over in the world. The essence of a man being a friend, not a wolf, for another man.

Our Estonia is a peaceful place. Physically peaceful, but our souls don't always feel peaceful, as we all know. The more we talk to each other and the more we can see that we're all exactly the same – despite being different – the greater peace we will feel in our souls. The greater will be the confidence that we have the power to maintain this island of peace here, in this region and Europe, to the benefit of everybody. And I do believe that we are linked by the wish to offer happiness to our grandchildren and give them confidence that we keep moving in the right direction.

Have a nice day; thank you for listening! I wish you a successful co-operation not just for today but for the year ahead, up to your next convention. Enjoy your day!

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ENG Kõned Fri, 18 Aug 2017 07:12:22 +0000
President Kaljulaid at the Cyber & Innovation listening session https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13488-president-kaljulaid-at-the-cyber-a-innovation-listening-session https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13488-president-kaljulaid-at-the-cyber-a-innovation-listening-session A quarter of a century ago when Estonia restored its independent statehood we were a poor country. The crucial question stood in front of us – how to overcome the legacy left to us by the Soviet occupation? Our response was – we need to build up a modern, efficient and democratic state. We carried out radical reforms in all spheres of life. Our principle idea was to harness the innovative potential of ICT. We have since discovered that smart and knowledgeable use of ICT is an efficient tool for bringing about fundamental changes in governance. The benefit to government institutions, businesses and citizens from e-services offered by government and also private businesses far outweighs the cost of investment made to create and maintain these e-services.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 31 Jul 2017 07:40:47 +0000
Remarks by the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid at the International Peace Institute "How small states can maximize their impact in global affairs" https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13469-remarks-by-the-president-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-international-peace-institute-qhow-small-states-can-maximize-their-impact-in-global-affairsq- https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13469-remarks-by-the-president-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-international-peace-institute-qhow-small-states-can-maximize-their-impact-in-global-affairsq- Let me begin by thanking the International Peace Institute for hosting this discussion today. I am pleased to be here at such a critical time for the UN as well as for Estonia.

Indeed, this is an important month for us. Two weeks ago, on July 1st, we assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time ever. And another ‘first’ will take place later today when we officially launch our first ever candidature for a non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council.

In the next six months, we will do our best to provide leadership in Europe. And should we be elected to the Security Council, then we will, of course, do our best to make sure that the UN is able to meet the demands of our rapidly changing world. Doing our best is what we, as a small state, have to do in order to make an impact and survive in an ever more unstable world. Where rules are not only bent but broken. Where unpredictability has become the norm. Where peace and security is always under threat.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 15 Jul 2017 02:18:48 +0000
Address by the President of the Republic at the launch of Estonia´s candidacy for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13463-2017-07-14-04-56-47 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13463-2017-07-14-04-56-47 Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends of Estonia!

Two weeks ago, Estonia assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For the first time, we will be responsible for steering the EU. We will do our best to provide leadership in these challenging, but also hopeful times for Europe. We will work hard to resolve current issues but also on bringing forward the digital agenda in Europe.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 14 Jul 2017 01:54:02 +0000
At the StratCom Dialogue Conference in Latvia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13437-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-the-riga-stratcom-dialogue https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13437-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-the-riga-stratcom-dialogue Communication is everywhere. A dog wags its tail. A bird chirps a warning. A politician looks angrily at a little child in a shopping mall and someone snaps a photo. We live in a world of meaning, stories, emotions, interpretations, fears, and hopes. All these are parts of communication.

Obviously, creating some direction in the chaos becomes ever more important. But going overboard and adopting propaganda measures leads to limiting freedoms. It is extremely important that we manage to deliver strategic communication without compromising media freedom.

What do we mean by strategic communications, and why do we need it?

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ENG Kõned Wed, 05 Jul 2017 05:57:44 +0000
President of the Republic at the 12th Youth Song and Dance Celebration “Here I’ll Stay” https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13424-president-of-the-republic-12th-youth-song-and-dance-celebration-here-ill-stay https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13424-president-of-the-republic-12th-youth-song-and-dance-celebration-here-ill-stay Dear Estonian people, dear singers, and dear dancers!

Thanks to you Estonia is filled with joy this week.

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ENG Kõned Sun, 02 Jul 2017 09:14:49 +0000
Address of the President of the Republic to the Estonian people on the eve of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13419-president-of-the-republic- https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13419-president-of-the-republic- In just about three hours, Estonia will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

Presidency. To preside. These words describe exactly the role we are taking on at midnight. The Presidency means assuming responsibility for the functioning of the European Union.

The Presidency is assisted with a large team from EU institutions. But in the hall where their colleagues, ministers from other Member States, are sitting, the President is in charge of the quality of the decisions made as well as the feelings of the decision makers. The feelings they have after making a decision are not a matter to disregard.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 01 Jul 2017 02:20:58 +0000
On Estonian Victory Day in Rakvere https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13395-president-of-the-republic-at-victory-day-23-june-2017-in-rakvere https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13395-president-of-the-republic-at-victory-day-23-june-2017-in-rakvere Dear Estonians, dear allies!

Dear people here in Rakvere and in your homes throughout Estonia!

Take a look around this square. What you see is a sense of security – the members of our Defence League, who are standing here in their free time, side by side with our allies. Estonia’s security is guaranteed and today, the guarantee is more steadfast than ever. We are strong, we are visibly ready to defend ourselves, and we are not afraid. There is no reason to be.

NATO ensures peace. NATO’s trustworthiness has been tested by the Cold War and is being tested today by the international situation in our region, as well as farther afield. NATO is persuasive and credible, always appropriately prepared. That is why the NATO deterrence is always operational and has always functioned.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 23 Jun 2017 09:04:33 +0000
President of the Republic at the Opening of EuroDIG https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13336-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-eurodig https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13336-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-of-eurodig Dear citizens of the world wide web of democracies,

We live in a digital age. We are connected by optical cables and computers, but most importantly, by the faith in the sanctity of the individual human spirit and freedom.  We believe in these values. They are universal.

By this, I mean the whole package of freedom and democracy: free and fair elections, rule of law, independent judiciary, respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. In the modern digitized society, a free Internet is just as natural a part of the package.

The exponential growth of the use of information technology and the Internet has changed our societies so much we can no longer imagine life without it. The Internet affects our cultures, our economies, the way we think and communicate, the way we govern our states and handle international relations.

While there are some authoritarian regimes out there who would like to replace the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance we have today into something different, "a governance of Internet", I firmly believe that security cannot be used as an excuse to limit freedom of expression. Cyber security, while important, cannot lie in highly restrictive legislation that plays into the hands of those who have a fundamentally different value system and no regard for human dignity and freedom of speech. Or who want to quash or limit free expression in the name of "domestic security". Those we should not trust to regulate our Internet.

We do not have to see freedom and security as mutually exclusive: indeed secure online interactions are a precondition for enjoying full Internet freedom.

Here in Estonia, we have managed the balance between security and freedom by providing a network of public and private e-services based on a secure online identity. I am proud to be the president of the only digital society that has a state. As of last year, we are proud to be the first in the world in Internet freedom according to Freedom House – we are No. 1 yet again.]]> ENG Kõned Tue, 06 Jun 2017 08:31:12 +0000 President of the Republic Opening speech at CyCon 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13324-president-of-the-republic-opening-speech-at-cycon-2017-31-may-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13324-president-of-the-republic-opening-speech-at-cycon-2017-31-may-2017 Dear CyCon audience,

The use of ICT technologies has made societies and organizations more connected. However, it has also introduced new vulnerabilities and threats to public institutions, critical services and private entities.

This April marked the tenth anniversary of the cyber-attacks that hit Estonia in 2007. In 2007, several Estonian private and public e-services faced malicious cyber operations. These coordinated attacks focused the international community's attention on the severe risks posed by the increasing reliance of states and their populations on cyberspace. In retrospect, these were fairly mild and simple DDOS attacks. Far less damaging than what has followed. Yet it was the first time one could apply the Clausewitzean dictum in cyber space: war is the continuation of policy by other means.

Ten years on, it is clear that the decision made by Estonia not to withdraw, but stay and fight for the security of our cyberspace was the right one. We have high-functioning e-government infrastructure, reliable digital identity, a system of security measures that is obligatory for all government authorities, and a central system for monitoring, resolving and reporting cyber security incidents.

The most important element of protection is, of course, common understanding that protection can never be guaranteed technically, in system, on background. Finally it comes down to cyber hygiene of human beings. Also, we must understand that cyber-attacks are something which is here to stay, but that it does not mean honest societies must steer clear of benefitting from technological advances. Quite to the contrary – we must speed up offer of public goods through cyber space, not to abandon it to the bad guys. We do protect our street space – we never accept to withdraw. It should not be different in cyberspace.

What threats do we face, what sorts of risks must be considered, and how to protect ourselves better? Year 2016 will be remembered for a number of unprecedented cyber incidents around the world. We saw one country attempt to influence the electoral process in another country. We saw how Wanna-cry exploited the fact that people do not update what they use, therefore demonstrating we are not yet using protective gear we have. Most people act in cyber space as recklessly as those driving on highways without seatbelts fastened. We saw how the Internet of Things was exploited to attack core services of the internet, the effects of which transcended national and continental borders.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 31 May 2017 04:51:48 +0000
President of the Republic at the Latitude59 conference https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13296-president-of-the-republic-at-the-latitude59-conference-on-25-may-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13296-president-of-the-republic-at-the-latitude59-conference-on-25-may-2017 Dear guests of Latitude59!

I am proud to greet you in Tallinn.

As president of Estonia I represent the world's only digital society which actually has a State – the Estonian digital society of 1,3 million people, our whole population.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 25 May 2017 03:40:04 +0000
President of the Republic at the EuPhO 2017 in TUT Mektory https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13292-president-of-the-republic-at-the-eupho-2017-in-tut-mektory-on-24-may-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13292-president-of-the-republic-at-the-eupho-2017-in-tut-mektory-on-24-may-2017 Dear participants of the First European Physics Olympiad!

Whoever wins – you are all winners! Because you are here, because you are interested in the subject which reaches both inwards – into the depth of cells – and outwards – the universe. The span of physics is just amazing, understanding life as only scientists can is awesome and I believe it also creates enormous amount of respect into the complexity of our world as we know it.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 24 May 2017 04:29:08 +0000
On Mother’s Day in Tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15363-on-mother-s-day-in-tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15363-on-mother-s-day-in-tallinn Dear Mother, this letter is to you. And to all other mothers, both in Estonia and farther afield, but to Estonia’s mothers especially.

We all have a mother. Many of us are mothers ourselves. It is so ordinary, being a mother. Motherhood includes so much mundane life that repeats day after day, becoming more and more difficult as the child grows and as the number of your children increases. A mother is so plain to understand. Of course, a mother must be plain to understand for her children. A child’s little soul shouldn’t actually realise that having a good mother is a blessing. However, every child grows up over time. Now is the time to realise that a good mother is a great blessing; is incredible fortune and a gift from fate.

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ENG Kõned Sun, 14 May 2017 08:32:14 +0000
Remarks by the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid at the Lennart Meri Conference dinner on 12 May 2017 in Tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13261-remarks-by-the-president-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-lennart-meri-conference-dinner-on-12-may-2017-in-tallinn https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13261-remarks-by-the-president-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-at-the-lennart-meri-conference-dinner-on-12-may-2017-in-tallinn Welcome to Tallinn, to Kultuurikatel, to this year's edition of the Lennart Meri conference, to the premier foreign and security policy conference in Northern Europe. A free exchange of minds, where competent people do not read out their speeches but express their true thoughts.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 12 May 2017 14:54:22 +0000
At A Conference on the Future of Europe Held in Italy https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13246-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-on-the-future-of-europe-and-the-estonian-presidency-of-the-council-of-the-eu-at-the-state-of-the-union-conference-2017-in-florence-on-5-may-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13246-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-kersti-kaljulaid-on-the-future-of-europe-and-the-estonian-presidency-of-the-council-of-the-eu-at-the-state-of-the-union-conference-2017-in-florence-on-5-may-2017 Let me begin by thanking the European University Institute for inviting me to speak here today. I am honoured to speak to you about the upcoming Estonian Council Presidency and to share with you some thoughts on how the future of our Union looks from the northeast corner of Europe

First, a little case study which proves that responsible national policies can result in recognition of the EU’s values by the wider public. It is important to give the EU the recognition it is due for the opportunities it offers to national policy makers. It is just as important not to blame Brussels for things that go wrong. People in Estonia look at our union with trust, because all Estonian governments have said that they can. This messaging is even more important than EU support schemes, for, as we know, countries that receive equal and high levels of EU support can differ in their public analysis of the Union. Therefore, money is not defining peoples’ attitudes; ideals are.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 04 May 2017 18:48:04 +0000
At the 47th International St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13242-president-of-the-republic-at-the-st-gallen-symposium-on-3-may-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13242-president-of-the-republic-at-the-st-gallen-symposium-on-3-may-2017 Honourable Chairman Peter Voser, honourable Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, and honourable members of the ISC Team! Thank you for making this symposium happen!

As president of Estonia, I represent the world’s only digital society that actually has a state: 1.3 million people, making up our entire population.

We have undergone a societal disruption to ensure our citizens and businesses have a completely digital environment to deal with both the state and with their private partners. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that at no point during this process has Estonia created any cutting-edge technology. Tech-wise, everything we use is pretty well-tried and tested by other actors, mostly private, around the world. This makes it cheaper and more reliable. Part of it is even open-source, namely our e-voting system, so anyone can try to hack it if they may. Still, no hacker has managed to do so in seven years’ time.

Estonians’ disruptive innovation is not technology, but something else: building bridges between enterprises and the state in order to help people, young and old alike, benefit from the digital services we offer. For already 17 years, Estonians have had a digital ID which they can use it to sign and time-stamp documents (including private contracts), utilise a broad range of public services, pay taxes and fines, make registry queries, change service packages, and simply send encrypted e-mails.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 03 May 2017 16:13:39 +0000
Address of the President of the Republic at the charity dinner of the Carolin Illenzeer Fund at the Seaplane Harbour on 19 April 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13220-address-of-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-charity-dinner-of-the-carolin-illenzeer-fund-at-the-seaplane-harbour-on-19-april-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13220-address-of-the-president-of-the-republic-at-the-charity-dinner-of-the-carolin-illenzeer-fund-at-the-seaplane-harbour-on-19-april-2017 Ladies and gentlemen,

This morning I was in Paldiski, where I saw off our latest mission to Lebanon – troops who will be serving in UNIFIL to maintain peace alongside fellow soldiers from Ireland and Finland in IRISHFINBAT. As I was leaving, I stood before the monument there and read every name listed on it. This is something I do every time I find myself in Paldiski. I read all of the names and reflect on their sad stories.

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ENG Kõned Wed, 19 Apr 2017 14:01:48 +0000
President of the Republic at the opening event of the Republic of Estonia's 100th anniversary celebrations in Kurgja on 16 April 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13199-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-event-of-the-republic-of-estonias-100th-anniversary-celebrations-in-kurgja-on-16-april-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13199-president-of-the-republic-at-the-opening-event-of-the-republic-of-estonias-100th-anniversary-celebrations-in-kurgja-on-16-april-2017 Dear Estonian people!

It feels good to stand here in Kurgja, a small place in Estonia with a great history, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia.

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ENG Kõned Sun, 16 Apr 2017 08:16:26 +0000
President Kersti Kaljulaid's opening speech at Tallinn Music Week Conference on 31 March 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13159-president-kersti-kaljulaids-opening-speech-at-tallinn-music-week-conference-on-31-march-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13159-president-kersti-kaljulaids-opening-speech-at-tallinn-music-week-conference-on-31-march-2017 Welcome to Tallinn Music week!


The Tallinn Music Week is an interdisciplinary festival.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 31 Mar 2017 06:33:53 +0000
Address of the President of the Republic to the Conference "Women, Peace & Security" of the Estonian Atlantic Treaty Association 9 March 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13112-address-of-the-president-of-the-republic-to-the-conference-qwomen-peace-a-securityq-of-the-estonian-atlantic-treaty-association-9-march-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13112-address-of-the-president-of-the-republic-to-the-conference-qwomen-peace-a-securityq-of-the-estonian-atlantic-treaty-association-9-march-2017 Dear participants,

In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, and set the goal that the international community must always consider the gender perspective in the resolution of conflicts.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 10 Mar 2017 07:02:25 +0000
Illallispuhe Viron tasavallan presidentin Kersti Kaljulaidin valtiovierailulla Suomen tasavaltaan, 7. maaliskuuta 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13109-illallispuhe-viron-tasavallan-presidentin-kersti-kaljulaidin-valtiovierailulla-suomen-tasavaltaan-7-maaliskuuta-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13109-illallispuhe-viron-tasavallan-presidentin-kersti-kaljulaidin-valtiovierailulla-suomen-tasavaltaan-7-maaliskuuta-2017 ARVOISA PRESIDENTTI SAULI NIINISTÖ JA ROUVA JENNI HAUKIO,


KIITÄN TEITÄ KUTSUSTA SATAVUOTISJUHLIAAN VIETTÄVÄÄN SUOMEN TASAVALTAAN. TÄMÄ ON MINULLE SUURI ILO JA KUNNIA. SUOMELLA ON AINA OLLUT VIROLLE JA VIROLAISILLE ERITYISLAATUISEN TÄRKEÄ MERKITYS.

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ENG Kõned Tue, 07 Mar 2017 17:12:22 +0000
On Estonian Independence Day in Tallinn 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14740-president-of-the-republic-at-the-estonia-theatre-and-concert-hall-on-24-february-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/14740-president-of-the-republic-at-the-estonia-theatre-and-concert-hall-on-24-february-2017 ‘…the land is thawing, the grass is sprouting, the trees are budding and in the shadow of a leaf, a bird is again singing its eternal spring song. Is it the sentimental nightingale or the romantic bluebird siuru – what difference does it make! What matters is it is proclaiming new life with new buds, blossoms, and grain.’

Good people of Estonia!

Dear guests!

The romantic who wrote this was Friedebert Tuglas. One hundred years ago. Estonia would soon become an independent state and there was hope that, year after year, things would slowly improve for future generations.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 24 Feb 2017 12:02:24 +0000
Address by the President of the Republic of Estonia at the Annual Meeting of the German Association for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses in Berlin, on 13 February 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13055-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-at-the-annual-meeting-of-the-german-association-for-small-and-medium-sized-businesses-in-berlin-on-13-february-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/13055-address-by-the-president-of-the-republic-of-estonia-at-the-annual-meeting-of-the-german-association-for-small-and-medium-sized-businesses-in-berlin-on-13-february-2017 Ministers, Excellencies, Honourable Audience,


It is a great pleasure to be here this evening.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 13 Feb 2017 16:48:16 +0000
President Kersti Kaljulaid on the 97th Anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty on 2 February 2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/12899-president-kersti-kaljulaid-on-the-97th-anniversary-of-the-tartu-peace-treaty-on-2-february-2017 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/12899-president-kersti-kaljulaid-on-the-97th-anniversary-of-the-tartu-peace-treaty-on-2-february-2017 It is my pleasure to address you on the anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty.

Dealing with an aggressive state that ignores democratic principles and international norms is never easy. Estonia started planning peace negotiations with Bolshevik Russia in conjunction with its closest neighbours – Finland, Latvia and Lithuania.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 02 Feb 2017 15:03:15 +0000
New Year’s Eve greetings from the President of the Republic on 31 December 2016 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/12842-new-years-eve-greetings-from-the-president-of-the-republic-on-31-december-2016 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/12842-new-years-eve-greetings-from-the-president-of-the-republic-on-31-december-2016 Good people of Estonia,


At least one thing has gone according to prediction this year – the 31st of December will still be the last day of the year and in the waning minutes of this day, the President has an opportunity to assess the past year and try to anticipate developments in the next one.

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ENG Kõned Sat, 31 Dec 2016 10:21:49 +0000
Speech delivered by President Kersti Kaljulaid at a meeting with university students, academic staff and NGO representatives on 28 October 2016 at University of Tartu Narva College https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/12670-speech-delivered-by-president-kersti-kaljulaid-at-a-meeting-with-university-students-academic-staff-and-ngo-representatives-on-28-october-2016-at-university-of-tartu-narva-college https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/12670-speech-delivered-by-president-kersti-kaljulaid-at-a-meeting-with-university-students-academic-staff-and-ngo-representatives-on-28-october-2016-at-university-of-tartu-narva-college Distinguished Attendees, People of Narva College and Other Narva Residents,


I am glad to be in Narva again for the first time in a few years. I used to travel here more often when I worked for Eesti Energia, but I talked to local community leaders here at least once when I was affiliated with the University of Tartu. At the time, the discussion concerned relating to the European Union and its EU assistance.

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ENG Kõned Fri, 28 Oct 2016 09:55:24 +0000
At the Inauguration Ceremony https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/12553-president-of-the-republic-at-the-inauguration-ceremony-10-october-2016 https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/12553-president-of-the-republic-at-the-inauguration-ceremony-10-october-2016 Esteemed Mr. President,
members of the Riigikogu and the Government,
Your Excellencies,
ladies and gentlemen,
dear people of Estonia.

Twenty-five years ago, in this very same hall, the Republic of Estonia was restored. We now have a state that is a 21st-century democratic state. This has been achieved through the contributions of all Estonian people, irrespective of where they live, their profession, or their standard of living.

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ENG Kõned Mon, 10 Oct 2016 09:23:14 +0000
My Letter to All of Estonia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15362-my-letter-to-all-of-estonia https://president.ee/en/official-duties/speeches/15362-my-letter-to-all-of-estonia Last Saturday, when ballots for the two candidates who made it into the final round of the presidential selection process were counted at the Estonia Concert Hall, and it turned out that no winner would be declared in spite of a campaign lasting over six months, people were disappointed. I shared in that disappointment, and I still feel it now. No doubt everyone had a personal candidate preference. As did I.

This certainly is not a constitutional crisis, nor is it bankruptcy of the democratic system. The election will now simply go back to the Riigikogu. Therefore, the Riigikogu Council of Elders began seeking a new candidate post-haste. It was clear that no matter who would become the candidate, their moral capital for taking the office would be quite scant. They would be a backup president. A porcelain figurine on the mantelpiece.

That is what people were saying even before the Riigikogu had the chance to start looking for a candidate. The brunt of this displeasure will inevitably be transferred to the new candidate. I understand. However, a solution to this situation must be found.

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ENG Kõned Thu, 29 Sep 2016 07:31:23 +0000