The annual three-day Lennart Meri Conference (LMC) starts Friday and brings noted analysts, policy and opinion leaders, academics and military leaders to Tallinn. The conference is live-streaming many of this year's sessions, covering key security and foreign policy issues affecting the region and beyond.
The LMC 2021 is organized in conjunction with think-tank the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) and is the 14th of its kind.
This year in-person events are being held, by invitation-only, but those live-linked key discussions and presentations from the conference can be viewed via the official site here. (NB first panel discussion is in Russian)
The theme of LMC 2021 comes from the Roman poet, Horace: Nam tua res agitur, paries cum proximus ardet ("You too are in danger, when your neighbor's house is on fire"), organizers say, words which reflect the importance of keeping abreast of developments with Estonia's neighbors, near and far.
The theme draws on the well understood risks of isolationism as identified by Horace over 2,000 years ago and equally relevant today, organizers say.
Conference director Eeva Eek-Pajuste said: "In the Nordic-Baltic region, we are naturally most concerned with issues that directly affect us - the pre-election situation in Russia, war-torn Ukraine, the disturbing developments in Belarus, the changing security situation around the Baltic Sea, transatlantic relations and NATO's strategic choices, and the identity crises of the EU and the U.K."
"At the same time, India, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Central Asia, the Arctic, and the Western Balkans have also become our neighbors. Their problems are also our problems," Pajuste went on, adding that opposition to China and Russia is as much ideological as anything.
"Chinese president Xi Jinping and Russian president Vladimir Putin understood this a long time ago—but we are only now beginning to catch up," she said.
"The decisive factor in this ideological conflict will be our conviction that our choices are the right ones. If we do not trust ourselves or our values, we will not convince others. Preservation of the democratic order should depend only on the choices made in democratic societies," Pajuste added.
Estonia is a NATO and EU member state and holds a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2020-2021.
Speakers include Latvia's President, Egils Levits, former foreign minister of Sweden Carl Bildt and Finland's foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, as well as both President Kersti Kaljulaid and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
The LMC was conceived in 2007 as a way of ensuring Estonia continues to be seen as a country willing and able to be a partner in the identification of solutions to Europe's problems, the conference states on its website.
Lennart Meri (1929-2006) was Estonia's first president following the restoration of independence in 1991, and was in office as head of state from the following year until 2001.
This year's event is capped at 500 in-house participants, and as a public indoor gathering will be subject to coronavirus vaccine certification checks at the venue, the Tallinn Hilton.
The LMC 2021 agenda is here.
Two live-streamed talks take place at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Estonian time on Friday, September 3.
Five more sessions are live-linked on the Saturday, from 10 a.m. local time, and three more follow on Sunday, starting 9.55 a.m.
The live-links, including agenda, are here (please note the first video on the list is Russian-language, most of the remainder are in English) and the talks will be streamed as separate youtube videos.
Editor: Andrew Whyte