In a speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the Estonian presidency of the Council of the EU at Tallinn Creative Hub on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) expressed his conviction that the best days for being a member of the EU are yet to come.
"As early as 13 years after the restoration of Estonia's independence — 13 years ago — Estonia became a member of the European Union," Ratas said according to a government press release. "It has been an important goal for us, and the EU has proven to be everything we hoped it would be. Europe is peace; Europe is freedom and shared values.
"Even in times when difficult issues have been discussed and important decisions made, the EU has always been self-evident for Estonians," he continued. "We know that cohesion comes at a price and we sometimes have to compromise to attain the greater good for all Europeans. When it comes to being together in the European Union, I am certain that the best is yet to come."
The prime minister recalled that almost 26 years ago, when Estonia regained its independence, Europe was there for the country at crucial moments. "We needed this support and turned our gaze toward the West," he said. "There has been no reason to question this decision. I would like to thank all the presidents, MPs, prime ministers and ministers of Estonia who have been in office since the restoration of independence for keeping Estonia on the European course.
"For the next six months, all eyes in Europe are on Estonia," he stated. "This is the time to show who we are, what we can do and how we live. However, it is also a time to listen carefully to what others have to say. Let us use these moments wisely and let us all make a contribution. The more familiar Europe is with our way of life and thinking, the greater Estonia is. The better we understand others, the more united Europe is."
The Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU officially begins on Saturday, July 1 and will last through the end of the year.
The full text of Ratas' Thursday evening speech can be read here.
Editor: Aili Vahtla