Ratas on August 20: ‘This is the Estonia we want’

Jüri Ratas with the Club of 20th August, all the members of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR who voted in favor of independence on Aug. 20, 1991.
Jüri Ratas with the Club of 20th August, all the members of the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR who voted in favor of independence on Aug. 20, 1991. Source: (Riigikantselei)

Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said in his speech on the 26th anniversary of the restoration of Estonia’s independence that the state was far from complete, but that it was built every day.

According to Ratas, the Estonian state and people will always be grateful to the 69 deputies of the Supreme Council of the Estonian Socialist Soviet Republic who on Aug. 20, 1991 looked beyond their own safety to the welfare of their nation.

“Estonia’s history has repeatedly shown how important it is for a small nation to recognise the right moment and take advantage of the window of opportunity that will bring success. New generations should also understand that pivotal events and serious decisions are not something that happened in the distant past or will happen in the distant future. We make history every day,” said Ratas, adding that actions and words needed to be based on that realization, as historical upheaval wasn’t always accompanied by the sound of a gavel.

The prime minister added that the decisions commemorated on Aug. 20 were made a generation ago. Tens of thousands of children had grown up and become adults in a free Estonia, and only knew about the events from stories.

“All around us, new generations are trying to deconstruct the pivotal times of change two decades ago. What led to the restoration of our independence and how did we accomplish it? I truly hope that we can show them what we thought and how we felt back then.”

Ratas stressed in his speech that Estonia’s fate wasn’t preordained, and that its story was far from complete. “Indeed sometimes we fail, but that is fine. As long as we keep holding Estonia’s freedom dearest to our hearts, each decision we make will contribute to a better future,” he added.

He also underlined the contribution of all of the country’s heads of government. “I am convinced that each government has contributed to a stronger Estonia, and has done so with the best of intentions. Therefore, we should avoid contrasting and labelling our people as right or wrong.”

“The Riigikogu and the government are not just ‘pursuing policies’–it is our duty to ensure a better life for all people in Estonia. Our economy is not growing just for the sake of rankings, but for the benefit of each and every individual. Our culture is not flourishing for its own sake–our culture is what makes us great. This is the Estonia we want. If we are smart enough to bear that in mind, this is the Estonia we will have.”

On Aug. 20, 1991, the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian SSR decided to confirm the de facto independence of the Republic of Estonia, and to reestablish diplomatic ties to other countries independently.

It also decided to call a Constitutional Assembly to work out a new constitution for the restored state. According to the rules set out in the new constitution, free elections would then be held in 1992.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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