President Ilves calls young Estonian expats to serve in the military

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves who arrived for the opening week of the UN 69th General Assembly, held a reception on Sunday night with the Estonian Consulate and the New York Estonian Educational Society in the New York Estonian House to acknowledge the local Estonian community, where he called upon the younger generation of expat Estonians to pass their military service in Estonia.

According to Ilves, serving in the Estonian military would be an opportunity to learn about Estonia and practice the Estonian language.


“Make the most of the opportunities offered by New York Estonian School and speak in Estonian with your children at home. This will make it easier for them to settle in Estonia, should they want to,” the President pointed out.

Ilves also said that the recent events in Ukraine have totally changed the current security situation and further developments will require our constant attention.

“This is not a problem faced by just one country, but a problem for Europe in general,” he stated.

“The rules and international agreements that have been valid for 60 years are no longer valid. Russia wants to reorganise the current geopolitical lines of power.”

Ilves will also meet with enterprising young Estonians active in New York and the East Coast and will open the photo exhibition The Waterfowl People, which introduces Lennart Meri’s Finno-Ugric film travels, at the UN conference rooms within the framework of the UN’s high-level week and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples.

The President also visited the Photoville festival, where the Estonian photographer Annika Haas participated with her series Plane Watchers.


President Ilves meeting with the local Estonian community in the New York Estonian House:












Photos: Annika Haas.

7 thoughts on “President Ilves calls young Estonian expats to serve in the military”

  1. I’m confused. He wants young Estonian citizens who live abroad to join the Estonian military? Or is it the children of the Estonians who live abroad, but children who were born abroad?

    The reason I ask is that people born abroad may hold some other citizenship, and cannot serve in another country’s military.

    1. Hi John, We will be in that situation in about 17 years. Estonia requires its citizens to do military service in Estonia even if they’re abroad. Our son hold both the estonian as well as the swiss citizenship. For our situation it’s the case that if we stay here, he would have to go to the swiss military but also to the estonian (which the swiss would have a problem with). So for the time of his military service, our son would need to move to Estonia to do his service. Once he lives in the country where he holds citizenship and does military service the other country cannot complaint. This might be very different in other countries such as the US and these people must then contact their embassy to check their situation.

    2. That is Not True. I served in 1995 for almost 3 years. I am born in America and yes I “Paid” for it will the U.S. and New York State and Local Government harassing and latterly terrorizing me for it as I had to leave Estonia, because the people there did Not Accept me (Marginalizing)me) I was the victim of Bias.
      Please be careful as it is a nice though and idea of Helping Estonia. Will they the Estonian government help you when you need it. In my case they did not!I I agree serving in the Estonian Military helped my Estonian language Skills and understanding of my own people. Unless the Estonian Government starts to treat Equal Estonian Citizens born Abroad with out Marginalization and Bias) I would be very leery of recommending anyone or ever serving there again.

  2. I wish to make a statement about this. I am a Dual American and Estonian Citizen, born in America. My late Father was an Estonian Citizen and Solder who became a refuge and had to flee Estonia in 1944 as he fought against the Soviets. I dedicated my entire life fighting against Soviet terror to help liberate Estonia from The Soviet occupation. Joined the US Army and served Honorably many years. In 1995 I was asked to join the Estonian Defense Forces and help with the Training, Organizing and Structure. That they would have a viable force to get into NATO. I did this for about 3 years. I was the former Chief of Military Police of Tallinn (Provost Marital) and later in charge of the Security and lawenforcement of the Estonian Peacekeeping Center in Paldiski. My experience was this. I went to Estonia with high expectations to give all of my talents and abilities to the new Estonian Republic. Sadly I found that there were many Estonians that did not accept me and showed me out right hatred for being born abroad in America.. I found that my knowledge and ideas would be stolen and I would be Marginalized, I was never promoted to the rank that was promised by the Commanding General himself. Viciously called Labeled a “Valis Eestlane, or Foreign Estonian”, for those that do not know such labeling amounts to being called the “N” Word In America. It is a Real Stigmatization, Marginalization where you will become the victim of Bias and be put on a shelf, not Accepted by the Home Born (Kodu Eestlased) In the end I was shown such Bias that I had to leave Estonia. When I cam back to America, and rejoined the US Military and later got hired as a Civil Servant Police Officer, I was viewed with extreme suspicion by State and Federal authorities. I was harassed and told that “I was a Foreign Spy” and my mother and me terrorized, my home was raided and searched. To this day I seek justice for what has happened to my family and me both in Estonia and America. I am reaching out to President Ilves to Contact me and my Attorney as an Estonian Citizen the Estonian government has refused to help me and I went to Help Estonia. This si something for all to take heed. I am not making this up I have credible witness and evidence to back upo my claims. Unless the Intolerance of the Home grown Estonians has changed, I would most likely not want to help them any more. They have shown them selves to be Ingrates, Biased/Prejudiced and Non Accepting of Estonians born Abroad. President Ilves, Sir, , if you read this, I tried to contact your predecessor and your office several times only to be ignored. Please help me with my complex situation.

    1. Strange on how I stumbled on this article. Unfortunately, I share somewhat the same experience. Both parents left Estonia in 1944 as adults (father served in their military) and myself being born in the US I chose the US military as a career having up to this point served for over 35 years (still in the active reserve component at present). I was raised at home to speak Estonian and despite both my parents having passed quite some time ago I retain the ability to speak, read, and write in Estonian. Well, over the past few years I have visited Estonia and sadly I concur that there is a general disdain for the foreign born diaspora. Nothing was extremely overt, but comments and expressions pretty much indicated that we are outsiders, regardless of ancestry and the interest to keep a piece of our heritage alive. I’m a bit sad, but I never went there with overly lofty ambitions. I’ll always follow the news from there, but will remain in the US. I’m curious how many others have had similar experiences and impressions.

      1. Somewhat Shared:

        In my nearly 3 years in the service of Estonia in the Defense Forces and Civilian Police in Tallinn. It was shown that the greatest enemy of Estonia is not Russia, but Estonians themselves.

        Western publications such as Forbes etc now have articles attesting to this. Wgem n my mother and me were harassed terrorized here in the good old USA, myself and our attorney wrote the Estonian Government I even called several times. No one helped us.

        Estonia never seems to learn from its past. Estonians do not stick together and help each other, they expect other countries in NATO to come to their help while they do not purchase tge right heavy weapons to defend Estonia; Tanks,Attack Helicopters, Bombers etc.

        They seem to have no shame in the fact that they are Freer longer then the 1st Interwar tine and have virtualy no Tanks,Jet fighters Bombers.

        The nation of Belgium, which us sppox 1/3 Rd smaller then Estonia the smallest of the 3 Baltic States, is now Protecting the Entire NATO Baltic Airspace.

        Americans,Europeans are waking up to the ” Slacking Baltic Countries ” . If a Russian Military attack comes and the Baltic States are easily overrun, there will be a big After Action Review, a good portion of Blame will fall on Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian Leaders, for not doing their utmost to protect their countries.

        Estonia,Latvia, Lithuania should look to Israel on how to Defend the countries as well as accept their disporia as an asset and intregate their people positively into society.

        When a nation and people show such calesness, bias and marginaliztion even out right hatred of its own people who are born abroad, Why should anyone of them support such a nation?

        Be they Estonians born in the USA, Canada,UK,Australia,Sweden, Germany etc of Estonian background why should any of us go and risk their life and limb for a nation that does not even view us as one of their own in word, Deed and Spirit.

        The day may again come when Estonia, Baltics are attacked, when they we will need help and when those who used to be big patriots who have been scorned,Marginalized, Discriminated, will turn their backs and say, we do not know you!

        1. Maybe being away you forgot that (Eestlase lemmiktoit on teine eestlane), I think the best way to defend Estonia is being friends with everyone or at least neutral.

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