Gallery: Estonian centennial week begins with ceremony in Tallinn
Speaking at a ceremony held at the site of the former building in which the Estonian Salvation Committee secretly drew up the Manifest to the Peoples of Estonia in February 1918, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) on Monday declared the week of celebrations marking the centennial of the independent Republic of Estonia as having begun.
In his remarks at the opening event, held in a parking lot located at Tartu Highway 1, the prime minister said that exactly one hundred years ago, a staggering sequence of events which began with the establishment of the Salvation Committee ended in the declaration of Estonia's statehood.
"It may have been quite difficult for contemporaries to find their bearings in the whirlwind of the events of the time, and it's difficult today as well to place one event above others," Ratas said. "The story of our independence is multifaceted and the result of many bold but right decisions."
The Estonian head of government said that when Estonia celebrates its independence on Feb. 24, it is first and foremost celebrating the establishment of the first provisional Estonian government.
"But if we consider the public declaration of independent statehood equal to the establishment of the government, we could also celebrate Feb. 21, when the text of the Estonian Declaration of Independence was approved, or Feb. 23, when it was first read out in public," Ratas noted. "All of these steps, just like the understanding, resolve and cooperation among the parties involved, were inevitable for the arrival at the point where the Republic of Estonia came into being."
In addition to these historic events, he continued, Estonia should also celebrate the country's more recent achievements as well this week, including the fact that Estonian independence is better protected than ever before, and the country's first and successful presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of last year.
"Strengthening the recognition and role of our country in the international community of nations is a common achievement of all of us," Ratas stressed. "Similarly, our artists, students and researchers stand out on the international arena with their remarkable achievements. This clearly demonstrates that a strong basic education and society's continued support help one achieve the highest goals in research, culture and sports."
Ratas called on Estonians to look to the future and reflect on what could be done better in order for life in Estonia to blossom in the century to come as well, noting that one issue that must immediately be addressed is people's alientation from the state and politics.
Estonia celebrates the 100th anniversary of the independent Republic of Estonia on Saturday.
Editor: Aili Vahtla