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On Sunday, a meeting devoted to the withdrawal of Russian troops was held in the Riigikogu. The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson said that the withdrawal of Russian occupation forces on 31 August 1994 marked the end of the Second World War for Estonia and brought back the freedom to decide independently over the future and security of the country.

“It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the event – especially in the complex world of today while a new war is raging in Europe”, Mihkelson pointed out. “The Estonian-Russian relations were very tense at the beginning of the 1990s. All means of influence were to be used against us including the military ones. However, already at that time Estonia had good friends and allies who helped us achieve the desired result”, he added.

Mihkelson who chaired the meeting devoted to the withdrawal of the Russian troops, cited the then President Lennart Meri. “On 31 August 1994 the President Lennart Meri said in his speech on Maarjamäe on the occasion of the withdrawal of the Russian occupation forces: “… I call upon the friends of Estonia abroad to refrain from the illusion that the Baltic issue has been resolved completely now that the occupation forces are leaving the country. On the contrary, the Baltic issue remains on the agenda. We need your help to ensure our international security, to fully integrate Estonia into the Western democratic world and the free market economy. We are your trustworthy allies since Estonia belongs to the same culture and the same world. We need your continued support, perhaps even more so now that the future seems secured and less dramatic.””

Mihkelson pointed out that subsequently Estonia truly used its opportunities to the fullest, having become member of the most powerful military alliance and the EU. “Today Estonia’s security has the best guarantee a small democratic European state can have. We have more allies and friends than ever before in our history”, Mihkelson said. At the same time he added that the few days to come shall be crucial in terms of ensuring our continued security – having in mind the visit of the President of the United States to Estonia and the NATO summit in Wales.

The President of Estonia Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the President of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor, the then Prime Minister Mart Laar, the then Ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to Russia and the chief negotiator Jüri Luik, the then Head of the General Staff of the Estonian Defence Forces General Ants Laaneots and an Estonian diplomat at that time Eerik-Niiles Kross presented their speeches during the meeting.

Photos can be found here.