Former President Rüütel wants December 24 named day of national importance ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Former President Arnold Rüütel.
Former President Arnold Rüütel. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Former President Arnold Rüütel, Jüri Kraft and Ivar Raig have proposed that December 24 should be given additional new meaning and be declared the anniversary of the annulment of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and that the day should be added to Estonia's list of days of national importance.

Rüütel, Kraft and Raik sent the Riigikogu a letter in which they recalled that the authors and signatories of the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, better known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which was signed in Moscow on August 23, 1939, decided to strip Estonia of its independence.

Rüütel noted that it took more than 50 years for both sides to more broadly disclose the pact and and declare it void, adding that a breakthrough in the raising of the issue of freedom for the Baltic countries came during Roland Reagan's term as president of the United States.

Germany's Bundestag decided to declare the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact void on September 1, 1989, however the Soviet Union did not publicly acknowledge their existence until December 23 that year, and a political and legal assessment followed with a decision of the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union on December 24, 1989.

"The document of the Congress of People's Deputies of the Soviet Union regarding the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact should be considered the birth certificate of the restoration of the independence of Estonia and other Baltic states, and the date it was passed, December 24, should be commemorated at least to the extent that February 2, August 23 and November 16 are in Estonia," Rüütel, Kraft and Raig wrote.

They found that December 24 should be marked in calendars not only as Christmas Eve, but also as the anniversary of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact being declared null and void, the date Estonia was de jure liberated from occupation on the basis of legal continuity.

The signatories of the letter, which was addressed to Henn Põlluaas (EKRE), Siim Kallas (Reform) and Aadu Must (Center), proposed amending the Public Holidays and Days of National Importance Act, adding an eighth paragraph to section 3, Days of national importance, listing December 24 as the anniversary of the annulment of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the day on which the Baltic states were de jure liberated from occupation.

"Adding a new definition to December 24 in calendars in Estonia, the Baltic countries and other European countries is necessary to ensure that the memory of Stalinist and Nazi crimes and major countries' secret deals at the expense of small countries are not forgotten, and to remember one of the most important achievements of all time of Baltic politicians in international politics, which aided significantly in the breakup of the Soviet empire," the authors wrote.  

Days of national importance currently observed in Estonia:

-January 6: Epiphany
-February 2: Anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty
-March 14: Native Language Day
-second Sunday in May: Mother's Day
-June 4: Flag Day
-June 14: Day of Mourning
-August 23: Day of Remembrance for Victims of Communism and Nazism
-second Sunday in September: Grandparents' Day
-September 22: Resistance Day
-third Saturday in October: Finno-Ugric Day
-November 2: All Souls' Day
-second Sunday in November: Father's Day
-November 16: Day of Declaration of Sovereignty

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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