Parliament Speaker Eiki Nestor gave an emotional speech at the opening sitting of the Parliament's autumn session, touching upon refugees and tolerance - the two topics currently in the center of public debate.
"The topic of refugees is a very delicate and complicated issue for many, and whenever it is brought up, we keep hearing one and the same accusation," Nestor said. "Apparently, the people of Estonia have been hit by nothing more or nothing less than a "tolerance attack".
In Nestor's opinion, this however, is not the case, since people who have spoken up in support of refugees and tolerance have simply exercised their freedom of speech.
"Contrary to this, however, torching a building where children are sleeping inside is not an expression of opinion. It is a crime," Nestor said. "Hate speeches in any form are nothing more than vulgar name-calling," he added.
"Some have said that open-minded people who respect diversity could leave Estonia, which is so full of hatred at the moment. No, they will not! Dream on! Instead, it would be better if they come back. And continue building up Estonia. A friendly Estonia."
"What irritates and frustrates me particularly is the fact that the people who feel hit by the so-called tolerance attack claim that they are protecting Estonia and the Estonian identity. Who gave you this right?" Nestor asked.
"In every country and nation there are more of some, less of others. It all depends on how we treat the minorities. Do you really not know that an Estonian can be a homosexual? There are even Moslem Estonians! There are people with dark skin! Granted, only a few or very few, but they are Estonians nevertheless. They speak our language, sing our songs. They work and study. They are born and they die."
In order to preserve the Estonian language and culture, we need to create and build, not have and burn, Nestor said, adding that people need to respect each other's views and choices, stop creating enemy figures and not induce hatred.
"We might think we are a tough nut to crack, but between two hard rocks we would be pulverised to dust," Nestor illustrated the current foreign and domestic situation.
"Estonia's choice is the free world. And this is a world that respects the multitude of opinions, human freedoms, including the right to be different. This world will not turn a deaf ear to those that need help, and it values human lives. In this world, the big and the small cooperate and make agreements, and common values are protected. This includes us as members of the EU and NATO. In simple words – all those who wish to show dark-skinned people the door also want us out of NATO. I hope this comes out of naivety and nothing more."
"Not for a moment should we forget that there is a de facto war going on in Europe, not far from us. It is basically the same conflict between open and closed views of the world," Nestor said. "This forces us to invest more into national defense, to be more active in our foreign policy. Hopefully this will be supported by mostly unanimous decisions of the majority of the parties of this Riigikogu as well."
Editor: M. Oll