Lt. Gen. Riho Terras, Estonian chief of defense, said trust between the state and the people is the best defense against all threats.
“Estonia has chosen a broad-based approach for its defense where every one of us can make a contribution – at work, with service or through volunteering. Everyone’s clear understanding of their role in national defense ensures that the state functions, even at the most difficult of times.” he said, speaking in Narva on February 24, Independence Day.
“Fellow countrymen, the Estonian Defense Forces is a force for every one of us. We have worked for close to a quarter of a century so that we can say that the Defense Forces and Defense League are a realistic military power,” he added.
He said Estonia participated in its first foreign mission 20 years ago, in Croatia. “Croatia is now a European Union and NATO member. This is a remarkable achievement that the Estonian Defense Forces members helped bring about.“
Speaking about Narva, Terras, whose father was born in the city, said Narva has been Estonia's most multicultural city. He said Narva and territory around the city saw the most tense battles of the War of Independence.
“Estonians and Russians stood shoulder to shoulder in the Independence War. In the struggles and battles legends and heroes were born. Many Estonian officers and soldiers of Russian decent with their deeds of valor and heroism in battle earned the highest military decoration in Estonia – the Cross of Liberty. Without exaggeration we can say that Sub-Polkovnik (Lieutenant Colonel) Konstantin Troitski and Captain Piotr Feofanov were true heroes of the Independence War.” Terras said.
“Estonia is big enough to have rich regional diversity, in the context of practices and traditions. At the same time Estonia is too small to have divides set in stone. It is important that today here in Narva we confirm that there is only one Estonia and all of us together must defend it. It must be clear to us that our national independence and liberty has never been nor never will be self-evident. The state of Estonia exists to defend our people and our freedom.” he said.
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Editor: J.M. Laats