Prime Minister Jüri Ratas thanked members of the defense forces who are stationed abroad and the police, during his speech on the morning of Independence Day, saying society also needs to be vigilant and prepared for unexpected situations.
In his speech at the laying of wreaths at the War of Independence Victory Monument in Tallinn on Monday morning, Ratas said that just like after the signing of the Tartu Peace Treaty it was taken for granted that vigilance and preparedness needed to be maintained and today society needs to maintain this preparedness.
Ratas recalled the words of Jaan Tõnisson, prime minister at the time, on the eve of the second anniversary of our independence in 1920: "With a sense of pride, the Estonian people still see their victorious national forces guarding the borders of the republic as a living wall to protect the security of our nation and state against any eventuality, until we have once and for all secured the hard-fought peace concluded with a treaty with our enemy."
"The Estonian Defense Forces stand on a wall even today. The wall, however, is different. One can even say there is no unequivocal line at all separating stability from instability in the different regions of the world. This line between peaceful lives and evil intentions must be drawn again and again, and guarded just as diligently," Ratas said.
The prime minister mentioned that members of Estonia's defense forces taking part in international operations also bear the duty to protect those in need and to support our allies, our friends.
"This task is not easy and it is not safe, as we saw recently regarding the attacks on our soldiers in Mali and Iraq. I thank you, good members of the defense forces participating in international operations, but also you, good police officers or civilians on international missions, for trying to bring peace and stability to the world on behalf of Estonia," he said.
Ratas said that, today, we can say that the security of Estonia and our region is assured.
"This is reliant upon, among other things, the knowledge that we have many friends in NATO and in the European Union we can count on both in everyday matters and in more difficult times. We greatly appreciate the presence of the United Kingdom, Denmark, Poland, France, the United States of America, and other allies and partners in Estonia and in our region. However, it would be short-sighted to take this support for granted. Estonia is a small state and therefore we can never have too many friendly relations, but we must first and foremost focus on maintaining our current allied relations and notice of the concerns of our friends," he said.
He said that we must also be vigilant and prepared for unexpected situations.
"The ability of state agencies, local governments, entrepreneurs, and the people of Estonia as a whole to handle everyday crises gives us confidence that we can also manage more difficult situations. The past year has shown that we have to be the most prepared for an everyday, weather-related crisis concerning communications, electricity, or fuel supplies," he said.
Ratas stressed vigilance and preparedness are commonplace for members of the defense forces. This is also true for exercises, including for reservists participating in additional reservist training. The same applies to the police and rescue officers who protect our internal security, but also to medical workers and anyone else who acts as a safety net for the people of Estonia in both critical and everyday situations, either in official capacity or voluntarily.
"I thank you and your loved ones for this dedication!" the prime minister said, wishing everyone a happy birthday of the Republic of Estonia.
Editor: Helen Wright