President Toomas Hendrik Ilves's traditional New Year's Eve speech, broadcast in the final minutes of 2014, focused on education, security, the upcoming elections and people's subsistence.
The president assured people that Estonia was protected despite the complicated security situation, but pointed out that security really covers more than just military defense. "Security means sticking together and understanding each other. Estonia is truly protected when we know that everyone matters, irrespective of their origin, gender, nationality," he said.
To this end, he also called for people to be more open and tolerant. "An educated person is not afraid of different opinions, and does not give in to intolerance and small-mindedness. Intolerance and hostility are not things that will help us move forward."
"The months before the parliamentary elections are the time when [the people] demand dialogue between politicians and voters. There are no closed or forbidden topics here," he added, advising people to demand meaningful answers and explanations from the parties.
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Critic: 'Weirdly superficial and contradictory'
Political analyst Ahto Lobjakas said that the speech had a political flavor. "All this talk of sticking together, subsistence, coping, and social security: it was clearly social democratic," said Lobjakas. Ilves was a Social Democrat before becoming president, a non-partisan position.
Lonjakas added that the dilemma that the leaders of Estonia face when talking about the current security situation was also manifest in the speech. "They fail to find a balance between saying that things are really bad and that we have hope. Ilves's analysis was weirdly superficial and contradictory at its core. On the one hand he was saying that the post-WWII security order in Europe has come crashing down, and then two sentences later, that Estonia is protected," Lobjakas said.
PR specialist and political analyst Ott Lumi said that the president concentrated on topics that were central to the upcoming elections. "I think the president mapped the state of the current public debate, rather than coming up with new topics," he said.
Media expert Daniel Vaarik added, referring to the Cohabitation Act: "The discovery that there are people different from us living by our side, people who want some kind of rights, and the discovery that there are people who are not happy with that - I think this became much more apparent this year than in the previous years."