TALLINN – In his New Year’s speech, Estonian parliament speaker Juri Ratas expressed hope that our efforts and work would make the year that has just begun a turning point, from which the lives of people, the state and the nation would be better, and peace would return to Ukraine, the guns would fall silent and justice and light would win.
In his New Year's speech, which was broadcast on the Estonian national TV channel ETV, Ratas thanked the people for everything they have done for their loved ones, as well as for strangers, over the past year, saying that it has been an incredible contribution.
"The world around us has changed a lot in a year and on the 104th birthday of the Republic of Estonia, what we hoped would never happen again became a reality. The war Russia started in Ukraine has destroyed much, but not the most important thing -- the hope and the goodness around us. We must not let them be extinguished by war fatigue," he said, calling for action for peace, security and a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren in Estonia, in Europe and the wider world also this year.
Ratas said that, in the past year, we had to face the health crisis, the security crisis, the energy crisis, the economic crisis and the migration crisis, and we had to make a number of difficult decisions and reassess the options we had had before.
"There has been a lot of uncertainty and fear of tomorrow. It is the task of the representatives of the state to reduce this, not to cultivate it," he added.
Ratas called for using the time before the elections of the Riigikogu to compare future scenarios in order to decide what kind of Estonia we want to live in.
"To do this, each of us has to discuss, argue, analyze, evaluate and observe. It is not always easy, but it is necessary. Because together, we have to find a way to ensure that the obstacles we meet will not make us fall or stumble. We are in a situation where we cannot afford to make foolish mistakes, to stand by, or to overlook solutions," the parliament speaker said.
He added that the goal for the new year should be finding the wisdom and unity to make our society stronger and more cohesive, so that we could sufficiently support those who feel the negative effects of the ongoing crises more and more, and unfortunately very painfully.
Ratas noted that with the rising cost of living, people’s daily lives have become increasingly intertwined with the difficulties of making ends meet. Electricity and firewood have suddenly become luxury goods, and that has hit hard not only the well-being of families but also the competitiveness of businesses. He pointed out that with the record-smashing energy prices, the prices in supermarkets have also risen, making inflation in Estonia the highest in the euro area.
"These are not the sentences any of us wanted to hear in 2022. And these are not the words we want to hear in the new year. I understand that when we wish each other a happy New Year, we are actually not sure that it will be a happy year. But I want to hope that we will try and work as hard as we can to make 2023 a turning point,” he said.
"That we could look back on this year one day and think cheerfully -- from then on, things got better for me, my family, my country and my nation. In that year, peace returned to Ukraine, the guns fell silent and justice and light triumphed. The smaller triumphed over the bigger. Humanity won," he added.
Ratas called on the people to support each other, so that despite the hardships, caring and kindness would prevail in our homes.
"This will take us through all times. Let us see and appreciate all the beauty around us, because there is actually much more of it than ugliness. Let us keep it that way," he said.