Speeches

- Reset + Print

At the charity dinner of the Carolin Illenzeer Fund 

Esteemed ministers and Chief of Defence, veterans, ladies and gentlemen,

Two weeks ago, the last Estonian flag still flying in Afghanistan was lowered at Kabul International Airport. The last Estonian military policemen and medics arrived home in time for Victory Day. This marked the end of a mission that had lasted for almost two decades; one which had a lasting and at times devastating impact on thousands of Estonian soldiers and their loved ones.

Their mission came to an end, but the wounds they brought back from Afghanistan, both visible and invisible, will be with them and many people in Estonia for decades to come. This was not merely the Afghans’ war, or the Americans’ war, or our allies’ war. It was also Estonia’s war; the longest in our modern history.

We have not left behind the Afghanistan we were hoping to see when we launched the mission 20 years ago. We must be honest with ourselves: the international community today has no cast-iron guarantees that the country will become a stable and peaceful place that is able to cope on its own. It was with these same conflicting feelings that I saw off a unit of the Estonian Defence League on their way to Baghdad in May, to serve on a mission that was originally launched for much the same reasons as the mission in Afghanistan. A mission which proved fateful to Master Sergeant Arre Illenzeer. A mission which we have already once declared ended, around 10 years ago. Our responsibility before the thousands of Estonians who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq behoves us, here and now, to give a clear answer to the question: Where those missions worthwhile? Was what was gained from it worth the losses? We have to be able to both ask questions and answer them, especially in the knowledge that we are constantly making new decisions about where to raise the Estonian flag.

Losses are always irreplaceable. What you have gained is often difficult to comprehend. Weighing things up is impossible. There is only one way of seeing how those weights can be balanced: that is through the eyes of a soldier, whose job it is to protect their country and its people.

Read more

 

June

May

February

January

December 2020

November 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

December 2018

November 2018

October 2018

September 2018

August 2018

July 2018

June 2018

May 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018

December 2017

November 2017

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

December 2016

October 2016

September 2016