Finland independence day marked nationwide in Estonia

Finnish and Estonian flags.
Finnish and Estonian flags. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Finnish independence day was marked in several locations across Estonia on Monday, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported.

In Tartu, which boats no fewer than three Finnish twin cities - Hämeenlinna, Turku and Tampere, around 100 people gathered in Raekoja plats to hear Honorary Consul of Finland in Tartu Verni Loodmaa make a speech, Program manager of the Finnish Institute Heidi Iivari presenting poetry from a bilingual (Finnish/Estonian) collection and writer and translator Maimu Berg noting that the spirit of Tartu, spelled Tarto, in Finnish, is also a part of Finland's culture and spirit.

The city's town hall bells rang out Sibelius's "Finlandia" tone poem at noon.

Meanwhile in Pärnu, Vaasa Park was the venue for the festivities, which included a flag-raising and national anthem ceremony.

Vaasa Park itself is named after the west coast Finnish city, while the friendship between the two towns began in 1956, AK reported.

As a favurite destination for summer travel, and indeed at other times of the year, Pärnu has strong links with Finland. Finns also own real estate there, and some Finnish companies also own apartments, which employees can rent out.

The Pärnu Finnish Society (Pärnu Soome selts), which has just celebrated its tenth anniversary, boasts almost 500 members, many of whom live permanently in the southwestern Estonian city, AK reported.

Finland marked its 104th anniversary of independence on Monday.

Both President Alar Karis and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted (in Finnish) about the event.

The president noted that: "Finland's Independence Day has always been a special day for Estonia. On that day, in front of the Kadriorg Palace, alongside the Estonian flags, the Finnish blue and white flag flies in honor of Finland. Congratulations to the entire Finnish people on your 104th Independence Day."

The prime minister addressed her Finnish opposite number Sanna Marin, saying that she was sending her: "Sincere and heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of Finland's Independence Day and on this holiday. I warmly greet the entire people of Finland on behalf of all Estonians."

While Finland was never annexed by the Soviet Union, it lost a vast swathe of territory during World War Two, in Karelia, the city of Viipuri, and also surrounding the arctic port of Petsamo (present-day Petšenga).

It also had to pursue a policy of neutrality in east-west relations, which included censorship of the media.

At the same time, Finns were able to travel by ferry to Tallinn long before the Soviet Union collapsed, while residents of northern Estonia are famed for having been able to receive Finnish TV during the 1980s.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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