The New Year’s Eve speech of Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on 31 December 2014.
Good evening, my dear compatriots!
I hope you are spending the last evening of this year with the people who are important for you. Even if they’re just in your thoughts.
Many things touched us this year: the elation of the Song Festival, the triumph of the film “Tangerines”, the inclusion of the smoke sauna tradition of Võru County on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Rasmus Mägi winning a silver medal at the European Championships… The autumn was also exceptionally rich in mushrooms.
However, there is also reason for concern as we look back at the year that’s just about to end. We want the troubled times to disappear. We want more security.
Europe was tested in 2014. The security situation, which had even survived the Cold War, came crashing down. This happened because a country right here next to us attacked one of its neighbours. Europe passed the test and demonstrated its unity in standing up against the annexationist.
Estonia was also tested during the passing year. At present, our security is stronger than ever thanks to our cooperation with our friends. We have reason to be confident. Estonia is protected.
There are three keywords that are important for the future of Estonia. They are education, security and people’s subsistence.
We learn. Each and every one of us learns every day. Let’s not do things by halves. Contemporary education and educated people are the foundation of a smart Estonia. Only then can we make the decisions that make Estonia more successful and the future of Estonia more secure for everyone who lives here.
Education also means openness. Openness to the world, openness to dialogue and disputes. An educated person is not afraid of different opinions and does not give in to intolerance and small-mindedness. Intolerance and hostility are not things that will help us move forward.
The months before the parliamentary elections are the time of demanding dialogue between politicians and voters. There are no closed or forbidden topics here. We also have to talk about the correct taxation policy for us and whether we need to change something in the present system. What kind of a state can our people afford, how can we promote enterprise and entrepreneurial spirit?
I advise voters to demand answers from the parties: what is the price of the promises they make, why are their priorities what they are and where does the necessary money come from? We have to ask the people seeking a place in the parliament: how will you give people more security, both in their everyday lives and on a broader scale? Without this, casting a vote on 1 March will be difficult.
The security of Estonia covers more than military defence, it covers security in a broader sense. Security also means sticking together and understanding each other. Estonia is truly protected when we know that everyone matters, irrespective of their origin, gender, nationality.
Estonia has done big things from Tiger Leap to e-residency and will be doing more in the future. But as we do these big things, we must also notice the people right here next to us. The issue is everyone’s subsistence, the ability to succeed.
The people who live here are the really big and good thing about Estonia. Estonia is for them, for all of us. Good life is more than good things. Good life is a good, friendly and supportive living environment. It is security for the elderly, children and people with special needs. For youngsters, teachers, police officers. Security for everyone.
I would like to thank everyone who believes in Estonia and has made Estonia a better place with their work. We would not be able to succeed without you. A strengthening third sector, the Defence League, voluntary emergency workers and everyone who does their job well, our friends and loved ones with their support – we need you all.
In addition to the wishes that concern Estonia and the world, we also have our personal dreams that we’re hoping will come true. Let 2015 be the year when big and small dreams alike come true for all of us.
Happy New Year, my dear Estonian people!
Cover: Toomas Hendrik Ilves/Credit: Ilmar Saabas/Delfi.