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Global Estonian Report: February 7-14

Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) awarding former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves – born in Sweden – the Jaan Poska Medal on the 104th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Tartu. February 2, 2024.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna (Eesti 200) awarding former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves – born in Sweden – the Jaan Poska Medal on the 104th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Tartu. February 2, 2024. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

A roundup of Estonian news and events taking place around the world from February 7-14.

Between 165,000 and 200,000 Estonians are estimated to live outside the country right now, accounting for some 15-20 percent of the total number of Estonians worldwide.

With many diaspora communities located throughout the world, both in English-speaking countries and beyond, ERR News, in conjunction with the Integration Foundation (Integratsiooni Sihtasutus), has launched a weekly Global Estonian Report which will provide a weekly window into Estonian communities and culture from all over the globe.

Applications open for grants supporting projects of Estonian communities abroad in 2024

The goal of the application round is to support projects that strengthen Estonian diaspora communities' sense of unity with Estonia, contribute to the preservation of the Estonian identity abroad or help enhance Estonia's image as well as increase awareness in Estonia of diaspora activity.

Financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The budget for this application round is €100,000, with a maximum grant size of €5,000 per project.

Applications can be submitted until 11:59 p.m. Estonian time on Wednesday, March 6. Apply now!

Two Estonians from the diaspora awarded Jaan Poska Medal

At a reception held on February 2, on the 104th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Tartu, former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and, posthumously, Laas Leivat were awarded the Jaan Poska Medal for their remarkable services to upholding the principles of Estonia's historic peace treaty internationally.

Both Ilves and Leivat's families escaped Soviet occupation in Estonia during World War II.

Ilves was born in Sweden, where his family had lived before moving to the U.S. in 1957. He became a U.S. citizen in 1962 – a citizenship he rescinded in 1993.

Leivat was born on the Western Estonian island of Hiiumaa in 1941. His family likewise fled to Sweden, but moved instead to Canada, where Leivat spent most of his life in Toronto.

The medal is named for Jaan Poska, who was appointed the newly independent Republic of Estonia's first minister of foreign affairs on February 24, 1918, and later led peace talks with Soviet Russia that ultimately culminated in the signing of the Treaty of Tartu on February 2, 1920, ending Estonia's two-year War of Independence.

Upcoming events

Shrove Bun Contest  (February 10, New York Estonian House)

Shrove Tuesday (vastlapäev in Estonian) is celebrated in both the homeland and the diaspora alike, giving hope that winter will soon end and that spring is around the corner.

One of the hallmark Estonian Shrove Tuesday traditions is the making and eating of vastlakuklid (sing. vastlakukkel), or shrove buns – also variously known as lenten buns, whipped cream buns and, borrowing from Swedish, semlor (sing. semla) – and the Estonian community in New York is hosting a shrove bun contest.

Estonian Independence Day events (February, various locations worldwide)

On February 24, Estonia celebrates Independence Day (Vabariigi aastapäev in Estonian) – one of the most important holidays in Estonia and for diaspora Estonian communities all over the world.

Independence Day is celebrated in various ways on or around February 24. Browse a worldwide list of Estonian Independence Day events being held this year.

Language cafes (every Tuesday and Thursday, Tallinn)

Informal but organized gatherings, often called language cafes (keelekohvikud in Estonian), have become increasingly popular as a means of learning and practicing Estonian in a relaxed, independent environment.

Organized by the International House of Estonia.

What is Global Estonian?

Global Estonian is an online portal, in Estonian and English, and network for Estonians and friends of Estonians around the world.

Managed by the Integration Foundation, Global Estonian brings together news, events, culture, organizations, support programs, learning opportunities and a wealth of other information from Estonian communities abroad, all in one central gateway.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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