In his opening remarks at the fourth virtual forum for Estonians worldwide on Saturday, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) called on Estonians abroad to support Ukraine in their countries of residence, just as they did pressuring them to support Estonia's ambitions of freedom during its decades-long occupation in the latter half of the 20th century.
The fourth virtual forum for Estonians worldwide was held in Tallinn and online Saturday, focusing this time on the Riigikogu elections taking place next March, the role of the Estonian diaspora community in public matters in Estonia as well as the current and future roles of diaspora Estonian media, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release.
"The forum has become a tradition and the exchanges there reinforce our bond with our compatriots, because every Estonian, whether in Estonia or abroad, carries our culture, memory and values," Reinsalu said. He stressed that every Estonian in the diaspora is part of the country's cultural realm and that Estonians' mutual support and the endurance of its people and state are a force that make us thrive.
"Just as Estonians pressured their governments to support Estonia's ambitions of freedom when we had lost our state, I now call on Estonians to support Ukraine in their countries of residence and demand that they provide more weapons," he continued. "The outcome of this war is an existential issue for us."
A two-day training event for editors of diaspora publications preceded Saturday's forum as well.
"I am happy to see that Estonians in so many countries have maintained a close link to Estonia and that Estonian-language media is cherished, especially during recent difficult years of crisis," said Marin Mõttus, ambassador at large for the Estonian diaspora and director general of the Foreign Ministry's Department of the Global Estonian Diaspora and Cultural Diplomacy. "We had several substantial discussions regarding improving the information exchange of Estonians abroad both with Estonia and within the diaspora."
Saturday's forum discussion on the role of Estonians abroad included speakers Raul Rebane, media expert, Peeter Püvi, Consular Division director at the Estonian Embassy in Finland and Reet Marten Sehr, representing the Estonian World Council (ÜEKN) and Estonian Central Council in Canada (EKN).
The day's second discussion focused on the shared information space with the media, and panelists included Marcus Kolga, Canadian-Estonian journalist and political scientist, Sirle Sööt, editor in chief, Rahvuslik Kontakt magazine and chair of the Estonian Association in Sweden (REL) and Ülle Toode, a journalist and social scientist based in Italy.
Click here for more photos of last Saturday's forum.
Watch Saturday's forum, which was conducted in Estonian with simultaneous interpretation into English and Russian, below.
Editor: Aili Vahtla