President highlights importance of preserving Estonian language in New Year's Eve speech

  • 2019-01-01
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid in her New Year's Eve speech in Parnu highlighted the importance of preserving the Estonian language and called for noticing and assisting those in need of help.

The president said that although the centenary year of the Republic of Estonia is packing up its tent, the celebrations of our beloved republic's birthday will last for some time to come.

"Tonight's celebration will reach all corners of our land, exactly as the centenary year reached the forests of Kurgja, the streets of Tartu, the Viru and Voru counties alike, and hopefully every house and home in Estonia. I hope that during this past year, everyone found moments to cheer and reasons to stand proud and united," Kaljulaid said. 

Kaljulaid noted that the year about to begin is the year of the Estonian language.

"Listening and speaking, arguing, agreeing or not agreeing -- all are best done in one's native tongue. Only we can fully comprehend references to Tammsaare, Luts and Kivirahk. This is our secret language, which only one million of our compatriots understand. It is our solemn duty to ensure that the number of speakers of Estonian grows and does not shrink. Everyone who considers the language theirs has something to gain from it," the president said.

"It is gratifying to see that Estonia is more prosperous than ever before. Viewed objectively, we are indeed doing better and better. The concern is that not everyone has the same perception. A single mother raising a disabled child might not share in this feeling. Or elderly people in the twilight of their lives -- in nursing homes or solitary apartments. Those who have endured violence -- either for years or even just on one occasion -- may also be deprived of this sense of prosperity," Kaljulaid noted.

"Do those of us who are weaker feel included? Or do they feel abandoned at a time when Estonia is truly better off than before? This is a question that deserves to be asked, even on this celebratory evening," she said.

"As we step into the New Year with great anticipation, is everyone with us? Perhaps somewhere someone is very sad? What can we do better? And furthermore, are we able to give up something we are attached to, so that the people who are sad could be a little happier? No doubt we will learn -- and learn next year as well -- how to better harness our prosperity in places, which badly need it," the president said.

The president recalled that one hundred years ago, when World War I ended and the War of Independence started, Estonia was not welcomed with open arms into the fold of the world's independent nations.

"While there were those who backed our independence, the net of security we are used to now, was nowhere in sight. It is a safety net we now see from month to month, at NATO and EU summits. If something is taken for granted, it will quickly become invisible. But at the end of the year, it is always a good idea to check that the net is intact. Have people around us, or we ourselves, done anything to make the net less sound?" Kaljulaid said.

The president added that this New Year will dawn amidst spirited debate, for after all, elections are coming up.

"That is a good thing. Energetic debate is a prerequisite for progress in society. Thinking is pleasurable. It is a fine thing to hear well-crafted and argumented debate in good Estonian. This is the kind of Estonia we wanted -- one that is prosperous and where there is time to think, the courage and confidence to express ourselves, compassion and love, debate and resolution. The self-confidence to do things ourselves, and enough faith to always help those in trouble, to the best of our abilities," she said.