Gallery: President honours over 100 people with state awards

President Kersti Kaljulaid presented the annual state decorations to their recipients, as per tradition.

The presentation ceremony, at the Arvo Pärt Centre in Laulasmaa, west of Tallinn, saw 112 people receiving decorations as recognition of the commitment to their profession or community in contributing to a better Estonia.

In her speech at the award presentation, the President noted the numerical significance of the awardees.

''This year there are 112 recipients of the decorations. This number was not decided on in advance: it simply turned out that way. At the same time, it is rather symbolic – among your ranks are many of those whose contribution is felt when people pick up their phones and dial 1-1-2 [the European emergency number-ed.], or indeed who do what they do to ensure that there is no need to call the emergency services in the first place,'' Ms Kaljulaid said, as reported on the presidential site, noting that recipients came from a variety of walks of life and backgrounds.

The president also noted caveats in even the good things we do, and the need to exercise caution and balance.

''You have all made Estonia a better place, and done so from the heart. But as we have been reminded with the premiere of the film adaptation of [A.H. Tammsaare novel] Truth and Justice, what you do from the heart can quickly go off-kilter and drag you down into a very dark place if it stops being about the people around you. This fatigue, this sort of disappointment arising from a feeling of being left behind, can sadly be seen in a large number of people in our country,'' she went on.

''Self-confidence does not equate to the conviction that you cannot possibly be wrong: rather to a lack of fear, to the courage to put your ideas and plans out there and to move forward with others because you have no doubts when it comes to the most important thing – that others care about us, and that we care about others,'' the president said.

The president also noted the importance of support networks, noting that these needn't mean everyone will be in agreement with each other at all times.

''Nobody in this room ever makes it here alone. There are those who have joined them on their journeys, worked with them, shared their ideas with them; there are trainers, students, assistants; those who have mentored and those who have encouraged. There are also devil's advocates, in outlining and justifying your plans time and again to whom those plans become better and better each time. Of course, there are many more people here today than there are those receiving decorations''.

''There are almost certainly people here today who have found themselves at loggerheads with one another and had to agree to disagree. But the knowledge that we have had these debates with the best solutions and outcomes for Estonia in mind is the cocoon of security that surrounds us all''.

The 112 decorations were bestowed, not only on Estonian citizens, but on non-citizens too.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg received the highest award to be bestowed on non-Estonian citizens, the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, First Class, with Finnish politician Timo Soini picking up the Terra Mariana Cross.

From the field of defence, nearly a dozen recipients of the Order of the Cross of the Eagle included US Gen. and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Curtis Michael Scaparrotti (First Class), and Estonian Col. Enno Mõts and UK Col. Giles Richard Harris (both Second Class).

From Estonia,former Secretary of State Heiki Loot, now a Supreme Court Judge, and former Chief Justice Priit Pikamäe, soon to take up a post as European Court of Justice (ECJ) Advocate General in Luxembourg, both received the Order of the National Coat of Arms, Third Class, and sports fencer Irina Embrich picked up the Order of the White Star, Third Class.

Editor: Andrew Whyte

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