President: Petserimaa monument reminds us of hard-won independence

The President at the unveiling of the Petserimaa War of Independence monument. Source: Office of the President.

A monument to the War of Independence in Pechory County was unveiled in Värska, Võru County on Monday to remember 300 people who died in the war.

Speaking at the unveiling President Kersti Kaljulaid said the statue is a monument to the difficult arrival of Estonia's independence.

It is not our duty today to only remember the fallen, but also to justify our existence in our free Estonia, the president said. 

"This monument is a monument to all those who risked or sacrificed their lives in the name of these victorious mornings. This statue is a monument to our freedom. But the story of this statue also tells us of difficult times in Estonia's history, of being left on our own, of the loss of independence and the horrible and difficult fates of the heroes of the War of Independence under foreign occupation," Kaljulaid said. 

The President at the unveiling of the Petserimaa War of Independence monument. Source: Office of the President.

"Those heroes, whose names were read out aloud here today, deserve that we preserve our hard-won independence, which we managed to restore without blood being shed. I hail all our units far away from home in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali. What you are doing is your duty to these fallen. Just like the day-to-day work of our diplomats in international organizations to maintain our allied relationships and partnership so that the fallen did not die in vain."

Kaljulaid added that when erecting monuments and thinking about the past we must also keep in mind our present work.

"I would like to turn now to members of the Riigikogu present here --  we need fast internet, good and well maintained roads also in this remote corner of Estonia, because also in this way we remember and keep in our minds the things sacred that we are thinking about today," the president added.

Lt. Gen. Johannes Kert noted that it was not possible to erect a monument in Pechory for obvious reasons. "Therefore, the men and women of this area have decided to erect this memorial hill in Värska. Very famous pages for the Estonian Defense Forces have been written here," he said.

The Petserimaa War of Independence monument. Source: Office of the President.

Petseri County (Petserimaa) was established as an Estonian county in 1918. Since 1944, however, most of the county has been administered as Pechorsky District of Pskov Oblast, first by the Soviet Union and then, from 1991, by Russia.

Estonia retains territories that today constitute Mikitamäe Municipality, Värska Municipality, Meremäe Municipality and the south-eastern corner of Misso Municipality.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Estonia raised the question of a return to the borders under the Treaty of Tartu in 1920. Estonia dropped this claim in November 1995. An international border treaty was signed between the two countries in 2005 which mentioned the changed border.

In Estonian, the capital of Petseri County is Petseri which is known as Pechory in Russian, and is on Russian side of the border.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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