Ratas: We will not surrender Estonia's most important holiday to evil
The meaning of Estonia's Independence Day, which coincides with the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine a year ago, will not change and will always symbolize freedom to Estonians, President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas (Center) said at the traditional dawn flag raising ceremony on Friday morning.
Ratas said, a year ago, Russia had just attacked its neighbor Ukraine a few hours before.
"Putin had launched a full-scale war of conquest, the like of which had not yet been seen in the 21st century. That day crushed our hopes that big wars have eternally become a thing of the past in Europe," he said.
Ratas underlined that this was a moment of truth for us all: if Ukraine should fall, the same fate could be in store once again for many European nations.
"Ukraine is not fighting only for the survival of its independence, nationality, and culture – Ukraine is fighting for the existence of us all. Today our message is as clear as can be – Estonia, and our allies, will continue to support Ukraine until it has won the war," Ratas said.
The president of the Riigikogu recalled that on visits to Ukraine, he had repeatedly witnessed first-hand the willingness of the Ukrainians to defend their country, their tenacity, their determination, and their gratitude for what Estonia and the Estonian people had given to Ukraine.
"We are also well aware of the importance of having friends and allies. On February 24, 105 years ago, we established our country and secured its independence in the War of Independence thanks to the efforts, sacrifices, and support of the Estonian people and our friends" he said.
Ratas admitted that February 24 had forever changed its meaning for Estonians as well.
"But I refuse to yield the most important day in the calendar of the Republic of Estonia to evil. February 24 shall not be a day of terror and fear. It shall be a day of goodness, when despite the acts of destruction and will to conquer, it was the kindness and generosity of people that won. It shall be a day of courage because on February 24, the overpowering enemy was countered with fearlessness and disregard for personal safety. It shall be a day of unity because it united everyone who valued freedom, humanity, and the right to life and peace. It shall be a day of justice because those who unleashed the evil will be punished," he said.
Ratas added that this was what our National Day was and would be for us and for future generations around the world.
"With this in our minds, we will stand firm as long as needed. 24 February has symbolized and will symbolize freedom," the President of the Riigikogu said.
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Editor: Helen Wright