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Good morning, dear people of Estonia!

Good morning to all of you who have gathered here in the courtyard of Toompea Castle!

Today is the 96th birthday of the Republic of Estonia.

Happy Estonian Independence Day to all!

Hoisting the national flag at the Tall Hermann Tower in the morning of Independence Day is much more than a tradition. It is a part of the DNA of our sovereignty. The Tall Hermann Tower is a symbol – a lighthouse of our state. In the course of history it has been a witness of the events when the foreign powers have removed our pride, the blue and black and white flag from the tower and defiled it. In June this year we celebrate the 130th anniversary of the consecration of our blue, black and white flag. The moments when our national colours have returned to this tower are some of the most moving moments in the history of our country. The enthusiasm that it has created has given faith and strength to our people. Since 24 February 1989, our flag has been flying in its home tower for 25 successive years. Besides the Tall Hermann Tower, the national flag will rise in many towns and villages, thousands of homes all over Estonia.

The birthday of the state is important and significant when it is celebrated as a party for the whole nation. The beauty of the celebration of independence lies not only in decorations, parades, festive speeches or handshakes. The spirit of Independence Day lives even more brightly and vividly in many homes in Estonia and beyond, where families gather to celebrate the holiday. Where people speak about the Estonian state, the Estonian country and the Estonian people. Where grandparents speak of Estonia with their grandchildren and tell something that is new and interesting to the young. And also where children tell their parents and grandparents what they know and think about Estonia.

Dear compatriots!

It is time we should pay more attention to the ideas behind our independence. I do not mean changing of practices and traditions. The hoisting of flag at the Tall Hermann Tower, the Independence Day parade and other traditions are welcome, they must stay. The most important traditions that carry our independence should be unshakable; they preserve the dignity of sovereignty. It is clear without saying that the important milestones of our statehood are and will remain in the hearts of the people, and nobody can take them away from there.

The strongest guarantee of the future of Estonia is that the younger generations understand the significance and necessity of independence. Being proud of your country, having a relationship with your country should be expressed in everyday activities. A positive example of that are our young men for whom the service in our defence forces is a matter of honour.

It is nice to hear from the young people who have gone into the wide world to realise themselves that their firm wish is to return to Estonia. The great number of young people here at the morning flag hoisting ceremony is also a sign that independence and the traditions connected with it are important to the young.

 There are seven billion people in the world, and we, Estonians, are like one family among them. Let us be a real family that discusses also complicated things, cares about its members and encourages one another by words and deeds. Let us be a family who has the courage to have a purpose. Let me remind you of the words that the head of the school Johan Wikman said in the novel “Wikmani poisid” (“The Wikman Boys”): “There is so few of us Estonians that the aim of each Estonian, or at least each Wikman boy has to be immortality!” Our people are doing great things! Let the Estonian musicians conducted by Tõnu Kaljuste who received the Grammy Award be a beautiful example of that. Or the news of the success of Estonian enterprises in the world.

Dear fellow countrymen!

This year is an eventful year for Estonia.

In May, the elections to the European Parliament will be held. Please do vote in them. Estonia is an active and enterprising Member State of the European Union, and it is important that we have a say, both as a state and as citizens, in the issues faced by Europe.  

In August, we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of a significant event in restoring our independence – the Baltic Way. Standing side by side, with our hands joined, we received support, strength and bravery from each other, and this took us to our independence.

The most awaited event of this summer is the All-Estonian Song Festival. One of the songs that will be sung there conveys in a few words the history of our people and our desire for independence that has endured through times. But also the call to agree on the most important issues. It is “Kostke, laulud!” (“Let the Songs Sound!”) by Aleksander Lätte, with words by Martin Lipp. Although this powerful song is not sung often, its words sound familiar: 

“Let the songs sound in the Estonian language, let the music of harp sound.

Let us glorify our Fatherland in the Estonian language, in the Estonian spirit

In one language, in common spirit…”

Good people of Estonia!

We have reason to be proud of our people and our country. Let us take care of Estonia! May our beautiful blue, black and white flag fly forever in the Tall Hermann Tower! Long live Estonia!