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Estonia's MPs hail Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Riigikogu appearance

Volodymyr Zelenskyy address the Riigikogu on January 11, 2024.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy address the Riigikogu on January 11, 2024. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) was at the Riigikogu on Thursday and spoke to several leading MPs, from coalition and opposition parties, who welcomed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's address to parliament and his official visit to Estonia Thursday.

Riigikogu Speaker Lauri Hussar (Eesti 200) said that the aspect concerning "the will to win" stood out most. "There were several very important points stressed in the speech by Ukraine's president, but the most important of these in my view related to the phrase 'the will to defend'. In other words, that we all pull together towards the goal of Ukraine emerging victorious from this war," the speaker told AK.

Opposition party Isamaa's chair and former foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu called Zelenskyy's speech a message to all humanity, with Ukraine's struggle against tyranny being one conducted on behalf of Estonia and all the free world.

Coalition party the Social Democrats' (SDE) chief whip Jevgeny Ossinovski, called for more to be done to help Ukraine, by the EU and by the U.S. "I think that if the major countries of Europe and EU allies as a whole did significantly more, the message to Washington that the issue is actually the security and future of the entire Euro-Atlantic space would be much more clearly delivered, while this would hopefully help to move forward with the necessary decisions there too."

Opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) leader Martin Helme said that much of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the larger Western nations, since Estonia would run the risk of leaving itself defenseless by providing too much alone.

"We are extremely critical of today's government's policy on this of course; that these risks, which we have been discussing since the beginning, in giving our weapons, but then if Ukraine is not victorious in any case, it will leave us completely defenseless," Helme said.

Center Party MP Andrei Korobeinik, in opposition, noted Estonia has advocated for Ukraine at the international level for a long time. "Estonia is a kind of advocate, which defends Ukraine's interests at the EU level, but if Europe cannot stand united, that is the worst outcome for Ukraine right now."

Reform Party MP Liina Kersna, from the coalition, said Zelenskyy had been inspirational and had motivated the will to defend across the entire free world, as well as in Ukraine itself.

Zelenskyy's next stop was Riga, having already been to Vilnius on Wednesday.

Zelenskyy's address to the Riigikogu was his last official act during the Estonian leg of his two-day visit to all three Baltic states, having arrived Wednesday night and given press conferences with the president and the prime minister earlier in the day.

Zelenskyy thanked Estonia, via the Riigikogu, for supporting Ukrainian freedom, and also noted the significance of the full-scale invasions starting on February 24 – Estonian independence day – 2022.

The free world is still intact nearly two years later, he said in his speech.

"On February 24, we did not bend. Our people, our friends, the entire free world. Ukraine decided that we would fight. The free nations of the world supported us. Some supported us immediately, like Estonia, and I am grateful to you for that. Others supported us later, and we appreciate that as well. And now, most of the world is on Ukraine's side, on the side of international law and against Russia's genocidal aggression."

"Tyranny must lose. Tyranny must always lose, and this is the message that all countries that value freedom, all peoples who do not want their children to fall into the hands of dictators, and all leaders who wish to be on the side of light in history, must convey."

"I am confident that the day will certainly come when we can all unite in another thought: The will to win," Zelenskyy concluded

As if to underscore this, Zelenskyy had donned a sweatshit gifted to him and emblazoned with the slogan "the will to defend" (Estonian: Kaitsetahe), before speaking before the Riigikogu.

Zelenskyy signed the Riigikogu's guest book prior to his speech, and appeared in a group photo with MPs afterwards.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Hanneli Rudi.

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