TALLINN - Even though Estonia is well protected, ensuring security requires more and more new knowledge, while people's more active involvement in state defense and willingness to cooperate in solving crises are welcomed as well, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid said in her speech at the Victory Day parade in the North Estonian regional capital Rakvere on Friday.
"Estonia's security is guaranteed and today the guarantee is more steadfast than ever. We are strong, we are visibly ready to defend ourselves, and we are not afraid. There is no reason to be. NATO ensures peace. NATO's trustworthiness has been tested by the Cold War and is being tested today by the international situation in our region as well as farther away. NATO is persuasive and credible, always appropriately prepared – that's why the NATO deterrence is always operational and has always functioned," Kaljulaid said.
She said that Estonia has created a sufficiently strong foundation that enables to cope with the surrounding tensions and the sudden changes in the world. "We have done everything possible to make sure that the fate of the country will never again be dependent on only one person, state or organization," the president said, commemorating the contribution of those no longer with us. "General Einseln, who passed away this year, insisted that as we develop our national defense, we do not focus narrowly on our own territorial defense capability. He knew that today every battle requires international cooperation. He and his colleagues laid the foundation for our capability to work in an international environment. The members of our defence forces who have fallen far from home fighting to safeguard Estonian independence did not die in vain. They gave their lives so that we could prepare to celebrate the centenary of the Republic of Estonia in peace. We, in turn, are responsible for making sure that our grandchildren have the opportunity to celebrate the bicentenary," the president said.
Kaljulaid said that existence of a military defense is one of the main preconditions for surviving in the world. "However, countries are increasingly discovering that strength alone is not always enough when the enemy is a terrorist or hacker. A sentry cannot be stationed on every bridge, and an armed guard cannot be in the passenger seat of every car. Because that's exactly what those whose aim to sow insecurity and chaos want. What is needed is knowledge, common sense and resourcefulness. What is needed is the ability to recognize an attack even when no weapons are involved. What are needed are international agreements that can help us react to these attacks while not putting the independence and sovereignty of our country at risk. What is needed is a much broader approach to security that includes all sectors of community life," the president said.
She added that Estonian security is strengthened by a coherent civil society in which informed citizen activists play an important role in the promotion of safety and the sense of security. "Security starts with each one of us. Just like we are responsible for ourselves, our families and communities in good times, we also have an independent role to play in crisis situations, be they accidents, natural catastrophes or threats to our security. We must all know how to prevent accidents. And we must all know how to behave, if accidents still happen," Kaljulaid said.
The president said that not everyone belongs to the Defense League or the Women's Home Defense although that is where we can acquire the best skills and necessary self-confidence to cope with any accidents, should they occur. "Yet each of us plays a role in our security, starting with ensuring the safety of our families and making sure help is available when something does happen. Personal preparedness and the daily work performed by the ambulance teams, police officers and rescue workers must be supplemented by a national notification system, reserves and readiness. It must supplemented by knowledge on how to organize an evacuation from a danger zone, how our hospitals can assist a larger than usual number of people, how our agencies, ministries and local governments participate in controlling and eliminating any crisis situations," Kaljulaid said.
"The Defense League and Women's Home Defense play an important role in providing a sense of security. Luckily there are more and more such people. The problem is that very often the same people participate in a number of security-related activities. And in the case of a greater emergency, they might not be able to be in more than one place at a time. What's the solution? We must find a way to involve more of the citizenry. The knowledge and skills taught by the voluntary organizations involved in ensuring a greater sense of security are part of the personal safety and sense of security that we provide to our families. This could be an important motivator for getting involved and learning," the president said.
She said that achieving a sense of security requires cooperation. "We cannot have important issues roaming the corridors of various ministries without any advocates. We must spend more time thinking together, but we also need lots of resources, which in the course of planning narrow budgetary strategies, is often ignored," the president said.