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The Vice-President of the Riigikogu Jüri Ratas spoke at the memorial ceremony for the fallen members of the Defence Forces in Tapa military base and laid a wreath at the cenotaph on behalf of the Riigikogu.

The Veterans Day is an occasion to remember the veterans of the Defence Forces and the Defence League, and their loved ones. Ratas quoted the golden words of Lennart Meri: “We are responsible for our country—all together and everyone individually”.

Ratas emphasised that the deep meaning behind the maxim still stands today. “It is a great wealth to have so many compatriots who have made the commitment to join the Defence Forces and the Defence League and to put their heart and soul into serving the Republic of Estonia.” 

Ratas highlighted the defence of Estonia as the main task of an Estonian soldier. “The security of Estonia and our region today is strong, although more fragile than it was a few years ago. The cornerstones of its strength is the knowledge that we have a multitude of friends in NATO and the European Union whom we can lean on every day and in times of trouble. We are very grateful for the presence of our allies and partners in Estonia and our region. At the same time, it would be short-sighted of us to take this presence for granted,” Ratas said. 

This year, we celebrate 20 years from Estonia’s accession to the European Union and NATO as a full member. The accession of Finland and Sweden is a game changer for our region and an important contribution to the security of the whole Euro-Atlantic area. “This creates new opportunities for regional security and defence cooperation. The world is far from living in harmony and this makes the role of NATO in keeping peace, security, and stability priceless now and in the future,” Ratas emphasised.

On Veterans Day we celebrate the servicemen who have taken part in international military missions over the years on behalf of Estonia. Foreign missions are an important component of Estonia’s security policy and international cooperation. “It is with sadness that I think about the lives that these operations have claimed and all the stories I’ve heard about dealing with the grief. Estonia will not forget those who fell for us, their loved ones, nor the ultimate sacrifice a soldier can make,” Ratas declared.

“The world is still far from living in harmony and that is why we have contributed for years into the fight against threats that concern us all. Armed conflicts, terror, or evil intentions are still very much in existence and even we have not remained untouched. We are deeply grateful to the Estonian servicemen who have fallen or been hurt when fighting for a safer world and serving us,” Ratas said.

The war machine continues on its bloody path in Europe. There is a full-scale war raging in Europe, launched by the aggressor state Russia. “The beginning of this war takes us back to 2014. While we used to use words like concerning or serious, now we have come to realise that the war is actually between two sides. One side embodies the rule-based world order on the foundations of international law, the other side embodies the misconception that the holder of the power can attack, destroy, kill at will. Not only must we speak against it, but also act and do it together,” urged Ratas.

If our children, grandchildren, and their children grow in the spirit that we embody, we can put our minds to rest for the days, years, or centuries to come. “The Republic of Estonia will stay strong, and our people will live well. Indeed, this and much more is what makes up an Estonian; this is what joins us together and makes us feel like a united nation. The Estonian spirit is not a consequence of independence, but the other way round. Our country has been born out of the Estonian spirit,” Ratas concluded.

Riigikogu Press Service
Gunnar Paal
+372 631 6351, +372 5190 2837
[email protected]
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