Eighth Friends International event brings together global Estonia allies

Vabamu, formerly the Museum of Occupations, site of the opening Friends International Meeting event on Friday.
Vabamu, formerly the Museum of Occupations, site of the opening Friends International Meeting event on Friday. Source: Aili Vahtla/ERR

The 8th Friends International Meeting takes place in Tallinn on Friday and Saturday, July 5-6, bringing together more than 120 entrepreneurs and cultural figures from 18 countries, who have either contributed to the economic and cultural development of Estonia or plan to do so.

The event, inaugurated in 2010 on the initiative of then-president Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is hosting this year's meeting together with noted conductor Neeme Järvi, will give attendees an overview of the Estonian insight on the future of the digital sphere, as well as some of the country's cultural history, according to a foreign ministry press release.

The event will open on 5 July at the Vabamu museum in central Tallinn, with the traditional symposium entitled "Quo vadis Estonia?", moderated by tech guru and event organizer Sten Tamkivi. This year the symposium focuses on development in the digital age.

"Due to the tensions and emotions in recent years in Estonia, Europe and the wider world, it is particularly useful to bring Estonia's friends together in the one room, to discuss ways in which Estonia is doing well and how we could be doing even better," Tamkivi said.

"I am delighted that in addition to president Kaljulaid and president Ilves, the guests will also include respected Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, including Ott Kaukver and Kristel Kruustük, to exchange ideas on the future of our little country," he added.

A concert by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, meetings with the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister, a trip to the XXVII Song and Dance Festival at the Song Festival Grounds, and a visit to the Arvo Pärt Centre, are also all on the agenda over the two days.

"Nine years ago today the first Estonia's friends meeting was held at the initiative of President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and entrepreneur Margus Reinsalu," said Sten Tamkivi ahead of the meeting.

"In the course of these past years, Estonia's friends across the world have witnessed rapid development and great progress in our digital society, e-governance and high-tech entrepreneurship," Tamkivi added.

"To ensure the prosperity and security of Estonia, we need allies, partners and, above all, friends," foreign ministry Secretary General Rainer Saks said.

"In addition to entrepreneurs, and cultural and political figures, the guests also include several honorary consuls, who play an important role in creating our friendships and economic ties across the world," Saks added, noting the event can bring together bright people and new ideas and endeavors.

Other attendees are set to include Raoul Grünthal, head of the Swedish branch of Scandinavia's largest media group Schibsted Media; Pär Nuder, former Swedish finance minister of Sweden; Andrew Prozes, a major investor and top executive of Estonian descent, based in North America; Martin Kolbe, CIO of logistics company Kühne + Nagel; Andy Thompson, CEO of Proteus Digital Health, and Broadway producer and director Tony Spinosa.

Local guests also include Estonian entrepreneurs Ott Kaukver (Twilio), Kaidi Ruusalepp (Funderbeam), Kristel Kruustük (Testilio) and Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise), as well as Estonian honorary consuls in Singapore, Trondheim, Norway, Zwolle, Holland and Edinburgh and Aberdeen, Scotland.

The meeting is organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Enterprise Estonia, and entrepreneur Sten Tamkivi.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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