President Kersti Kaljulaid said in a video posted on social media on Saturday that Admiral Gottlieb von Bellingshausen is "our man," of whom we have cause to be proud of.
The president joined the Admiral Bellingshausen expedition arranged by the Estonian Maritime Museum and NGO Thetis in Antarctica on Tuesday.
"Admiral Bellingshausen - although, in fact, he was admiral on a Russian ship - is our man. He is a Saaremaa man, he has seen the same juniper bushes and boulders that we have," Kaljulaid said. "We can be proud of it. And maybe it's because of this that our scientists have kept coming here too."
"I would very much like for this message - that Antarctica in fact is the world's fastest warming area - for it, too, to reach Tallinn and every one of us from here on the Bellingshausen. And of course we can say that it is difficult to combat climate change, but not combating it definitely will be more expensive still," the president said.
Kaljulaid said she hopes Estonia will join the Antarctic Treaty and the Madrid Protocol very soon.
"I hope that we will also be admitted to the Antarctic Council as observer members. Maybe what we are doing here today will work also for the sake of these objectives. The world often is quite an ugly place, but this here is still relatively untouched, and we very much hope that it will also remain so: that when there is Bellingshausen 300, it will still be possible to sit here and look into nature's void," she said.
The Admiral Bellingshausen expedition is organized in honor of the Estonian-born explorer Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen, who was one of the first people to see Antarctica in 1820. The expedition began on July 4, 1819 from Kronstadt, Russia and reached the Antarctic coast on January 27 or 28. This year's trip repeats the journey.
Editor: Helen Wright