Kaljulaid: Situation in Europe today can't be compared to pre-WWII scenario

The noise in Europe's media and current public discourse might sound like a storm is coming, but that doesn't necessarily need to be the case, President Kersti Kaljulaid said in her opening remarks delivered on Friday at the 2019 Lennart Meri Conference.

While the general din might suggest otherwise, in actual fact, people's support of the European Union is currently the highest it has been in 25 years. Most feel that EU membership has paid off for their countries, the president said.

"Yes, this isn't the calmest of seas, but there isn't a big storm," the president added. "On the contrary, public support in almost all EU member states is at the highest level of the last 25 years. This means that for most of its citizens, the EU is both positive and legitimate," Kaljulaid said.

She also added that while in the U.K. there may be a movement away from the Union, there still are countries that would like to join, which is a testament to the fact that membership is a "good deal."

Addressing concerns that the current situation in Europe resembles a pre-World War I or pre-World War II scenario, a view that has become fashionable with the rise of far-right populist parties in several EU member states, President Kaljulaid pointed out how far-fetched this sort of doomsayers' talk is.

Europe's value-based system of international relations, along with an understanding of collective defense both in the EU as well as NATO, is a foundation for peaceful coexistence that did not exist e.g. in 1939, the president stressed.

Still: "A balancing act between totalitarian states, a false sense of neutrality, and the right of the strong prevailed over values. Therefore, 1939 serves as a stark reminder for all of us where we will end up if we forsake our values, our liberal democratic values," Kaljulaid said.

The 2019 Lennart Meri Conference is taking place in Tallinn from May 17 to 19. The conference's format has brought together high-level actors and stakeholders since 2007 to discuss foreign and security policy with a focus on the European and transatlantic realm. The Estonian president is traditionally the patron of the conference.

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Editor: Dario Cavegn

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