TALLINN – Speaking at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Estonian defense forces at the Estonia Concert Hall on Friday, President Kersti Kaljulaid said that the people of Estonia will sleep sounder at night with the knowledge that they can rely on the readiness of the defense forces to stand up for the freedom of the country, as Estonia remained on the world map 100 years ago also thanks to the difficult decision of tough men to assume the responsibility accompanying war.
"Warfare and the preparations for it do not only include festive parades, barrack humor and firing at plywood targets. It is a necessary and dignified as well as a tough task and responsibility that we as a society have trusted thousands of our fellow citizens with," Kaljulaid was quoted by the president's office as saying.
The head of state explained that in developing the defense forces and, if needed, using it, both the society and the politicians must bear that in mind. A century ago, we narrowly escaped Estonia becoming only a footnote in some research paper, Kaljulaid said.
"But it turned out differently -- in that sharp turn of history, we were able to stay on the road. This was because there were both tough men as well as determined state leaders. Who, in a seemingly hopeless situation, repressed the instinct of self-preservation and the spirit of defeat within them and decided to nevertheless stand up. To do it by assuming the difficult responsibility and burden that accompanies war," Kaljulaid said.
She said that the will and determination expressed then make up the main lesson of the War of Independence for the entire society.
"We can do anything if we only want and dare to. And a contrary lesson from a turn of history a few decades later -- the consequences of surrendering to hostile pressure and aggression are always more catastrophic than resistance," Kaljulaid said.
According to the president, the defense forces today are in good battle readiness and actually armed and the territorial defense entrusted to the Kaitseliit [volunteer corps] as well as cooperation with other state institutions does not exist only on paper, but has been tested in real life as well.
"Behind all this is the hard work of thousands of members of the defense forces and officials. But, as we know, the defense forces are headed by the commander of the defense forces under the principle of sole management. And Gen. Terras -- these have foremost been your priorities and your military advice that I currently described. Estonia thanks you for the time that you have given us," Kaljulaid said when addressing commander of the defense forces Gen. Riho Terras, whose term as commander is about to end.