President Alar Karis' New Year's greeting

President Alar Karis.
President Alar Karis. Source: Kairit Leibold/ERR

President Alar Karis sums up the outgoing year and urges people in Estonia to care for one another and speak softly to make next year one of no regrets.

Dear Estonian people.

We are once again stood in the main hall of time where turbines are waiting to be engaged, waiting for that bright flash to illuminate the way.

Even though each of us has bright moments to take along from the outgoing year, we nevertheless have no cause to wave it goodbye in fondness. It has been a difficult year, one of tensions. A year of war nearby, security risks, soaring prices and inflation.

The rulers of Russia, sending their army against Ukraine, brought suffering and war crimes back to Europe. Estonia had military support for Ukraine even before the war started and is urging allies to ramp up relevant efforts. I am grateful to all Estonians who opened their hearts and doors to refugees, as well as those who have sent aid to Ukraine, from wool socks to ambulances, camouflage netting to a field sauna. I hope that we – the government and civil society – will not run out of steam in the new year as evil is not quick to disappear and will drag its feet.

We all want peace to come to Ukraine. But peace – and I'm talking about just peace, not an armistice imposed by the aggressor – will come once the war is over, once Russia's offensive army has left or been pushed out of Ukraine. Once Ukraine wins, peace is restored, we will see to it that Europe will have no gray security zones. This needs to amount to a credible security guarantee for states close to Russia, which is why I see no alternative to EU and NATO expansion if we want to ensure peace in Europe.

There are organisms capable of entering a dormant state for long periods of time when the environment around them deteriorates. Man has no such ability to wait for the circumstances to improve and come back to life during better times. We need to go through the good times and the bad.

I sympathize with everyone frightened by the grimace of today's cluster crisis. Those who need help must have it. While everyone else should take a moment to consider the past and the future.

Thirty years ago, we said we would be willing to walk barefoot through Estonia and Livonia. Do you remember? Because we had a goal – free Estonia – and we believed that weathering crises would present the opportunity to shape our future ourselves.

We have come so far into that future today that more than a few started wondering if we had not arrived. The outgoing year delivered a sobering effect and rolled obstacles in our path to shake our trajectory towards the future. But if there is something to recall from decades back, it is the power of having a goal. Without one, every hardship is multiplied.

What is our goal today? It is still free, self-sufficient Estonia that does not leave its citizens out in the cold. But more so – prosperous Europe that defends freedom and looks to the future with clear eyes. The year 2022 proved that building such a Europe is both our responsibility and in our power.

I hope that this view will help us understand the temporary nature of difficulties.

I am convinced there is enough entrepreneurial spirit in the Estonian economy to turn today's crises into tomorrow's opportunities. Give us courage to look to the future, hopeful in knowing that every slump has been followed by a rise. Despite news of a recession, better times are always ahead, and fertile soil left by crises helps nurture possibilities for new growth.

A country can only be as successful as its entrepreneurs. As successful as its artists, scientists and engineers. As successful as its teachers or people in any other walk of life.

This leads to one of my wishes for the coming year: let us be demanding. Let us be demanding of ourselves and those we elect to run our country in March. Let us not allow campaigns to fade into the seeming but take a demanding look at what is behind the promises – which of them would make grander just a particular political party and which would add to the greatness, success and security of Estonia.

​My dear fellow Estonians,

It is a night of hope again, of letting go and believing in the new.

I cannot promise you that next year will be better, no one can promise that. But I am convinced of one thing. If everyone in Estonia cares for their country, their city or village, themselves and their family; if we take care in traffic and when handling fire, leave no one alone and allow no one to be hurt; learn to listen and speak softly – we will see a year of no regrets.

​Then, all these sparks of good will come together as common energy to help us everywhere and in everything.

Happy New Year!


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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