Wednesday is flag day, marking Tartu Peace Treaty signing 102nd anniversary

The original Tartu Peace Treaty, signed 102 years ago today.
The original Tartu Peace Treaty, signed 102 years ago today. Source: EV100

Wednesday is a flag day in Estonia, marking the 102nd anniversary of the Tartu Peace Treaty, the primary document which signed an independent Estonia into being.

All state and local government agencies must fly the blue-black-white, as must legal persons as defined under public law. For private citizens, flying the flag is optional.

The flag should be raised no later than 8.00 a.m. on Wednesday, while it should be lowered at sunset – 4.37 p.m. in Tartu on Wednesday, and three minutes later in Tallinn.


The day's festivities focus on Tartu, venue for the treaty's signing in 1920, an act which signaled the end of the 1918-1920 Estonian War of Independence.

At 9.00 a.m. in Estonia's second city, memorial wreaths are to be laid at the War of Independence Memorial in the Paulus Cemetery (Pauluse kalmistu), and at the Raadi cemetery (Raadi kalmistu), at the grave of military officer Julius Kuperjanov (1894-1919), who fell in the independence war.

At 10.00 a.m. at the Kalevipoeg war memorial, Tartu council chair and former culture minister Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa), Tartu mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform), Col. Riivo Valge, who is deputy rector of the Estonian Military Academy (Kaitseväe Akadeemia), and Henri Pehk, a representative of the E!K!L! student fraternities, will speak, followed by speeches by high school students at Tartu Peace Square (on Vanemuise 33) at 11.00 a.m. Student councils will place candles and a wreath at the bas-relief of Jaan Poska, one of the founders of Estonian independence.

More speeches follow at 12.00 p.m. at Tartu Peace Square (Vanemuise 33).

The two major museums in Tartu, the city museum (Linnamuuseum) on Vene 17, and the Estonian National Museum (ERM), are hosting thematic exhibitions to mark the day.

The city museum exhibition (link in Estonian) introduces the history of the Tartu Peace Treaty and the role of the city in peace talks, with tapestry of the textile artist Anu Raud "Tartu Peace"on display, as well as a virtual showing of the Tartu peace negotiations, using 360-degree technology which allows the viewer to feel like an observer of the negotiation process. 

At the ERM, the permanent exhibition "Meetings" ("Kohtumised") allows browsing the original Tartu Peace Treaty with the help of a digital tablet, while at 4 p.m. a tour takes place entitled "For Freedom" ("Vabaduse eest").

Those who don't want to leave home can follow a virtual exhibition (link in Estonian) here (link in Estonian).


Wreaths will be laid at 12.00 p.m. at the Victory Column in Freedom Square (Vabaduse väljak), attended by President Alar Karis, Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets and Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jonatan Vseviov.

A gala concert takes place in the large hall at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater's (EAMT) concert hall at 6 p.m.


Festivities begin at 6 p.m. in the western town of Haapsalu, by which time members of the Defense League's (Kaitseliit) youth wings, the Kodutütred and Noored Kotkad, will have placed 102 on the candles next to the War of Independence Memorial. Bishop Tiit Salumäe will lead the memorial service.

The Treaty of Tartu was signed on February 2 1920, by the Republic of Estonia and the fledgling Soviet Russian state, establishing Estonia's borders and guaranteeing the independent state. The anniversary has been marked annually in free Estonia ever since, while a legal act, the 2005 flag act, codifies this.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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