ETV to broadcast Independence Day reception from Paide, no guests

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President Kersti Kaljulaid giving her speech at last year's Independence Day event. Source: Siim Lõvi / ERR

This year's Estonian Independence Day festivities will be broadcast by ETV without the traditional reception or invited guests, as a result of coronavirus considerations. The events on the day, February 24, will take place in the central Estonian town of Paide.

President Kersti Kaljulaid's press adviser Taavi Linnamäe told BNS that: "This time, the epicenter of all events on the evening of February 24 will be Paide, the heart and center point of Estonia."

"We had actually weighed Paide as a location before; however, under ordinary circumstances, the Paide Cultural Center would not have been able to accommodate all reception-goers. As things are different this year, we can continue the good custom of bringing the celebrations to as many places in Estonia as possible," Linnamäe added.

ETV will broadcast the day's events starting with the traditional hoisting of the blue-black-white Estonian flag on Toompea, usually open to the public but this year likely to be restricted as well.

No reception will take place, meaning the president is spared the annual two-to-three hour process of greeting invitees at what may be her last ever Independence Day reception, and another significant change is that the president will hand out state decorations on the day, rather than in advance, as is usually the case.

Taavi Linnamäe added that state award recipients' stories will be highlighted with dignity.

The president will give a speech as per usual, and a concert will also take place

Kinoteater, organizers of the concert, said that this year's planned event was inspired by a notion expressed by literary scholar Jüri Lotman, where the main positive stimulus for cultural development takes place at the meeting point of differences. 

Kinoteater spokesperson Paavo Piik said: "While we need people who are similar to us, what really inspires us is the meeting points and friendships with those who differ from us. Development and growth occur at joints and in border areas."

Paavo Piik joins Henrik Kalmet, Paul Piik, Sander Molder, Anneli Arusaar and Priit Mikk on the concert's creative team.

Karmel Killandi, Editor-in-Chief of ERR's life experience programs, said:    "Going live from the heart of Estonia with a concert performance and a speech from the Head of State is the first, and a very special, such event for us. The surprises that television allows will not be missing this evening either."

Martha-Beryl Grauberg of the Paide cultural center, venue for the Independence Day events, said the honor was: "...a great recognition and confirmation for the music and theater house, as well as for the whole town, that what is happening in a small town in the middle of Estonia has been noticed and considered important."

"The current restrictions provided an extraordinary opportunity for us in this case, because the event would not have fit in our house, in the usual way, with the audience. We are excited and happy that the most important event of the republic's anniversary and the president's speech will reach Estonian homes via the TV," she added.

Paide also hosts the annual Festival of Opinions (Arvamusfest) in August.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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