TALLINN - Estonian President Alar Karis opened a commemorative plaque created by designer Kaarel Vahtramae and dedicated to the Estonian Constituent Assembly and its chairman August Rei at the Estonia Concert Hall in Tallinn on Saturday.
St. George's Day on April 23 marks the anniversary of the first session of the Estonian Constituent Assembly, which laid the foundations for Estonian statehood. To celebrate the occasion, a commemorative plaque was opened on Saturday at the Estonia Concert Hall to the Constituent Assembly as Estonia's first parliament, and its chairman August Rei. In addition to the head of state, the event was attended by President of the Estonian parliament Juri Ratas, chairman of the Tallinn city council Jevgeni Ossinovski, director of the Estonian National Opera Ott Maaten and representative of the State Elder August Rei foundation and former president of the Riigikogu Eiki Nestor.
The opening session of the Constituent Assembly was held during the Estonian War of Independence on St. George's Day, April 23, 1919, at the Estonia Concert Hall. Under Rei's chairmanship, the Constituent Assembly adopted a number of laws revolutionary for their time and laying the foundations for the Estonian state, such as the first Estonian constitution, which was among the first in the world to grant the right to vote to women and cultural autonomy to ethnic minorities. The Land Act likewise adopted by the Constituent Assembly and redistributing the lands of manorial estates to small farmers further motivated Estonian soldiers to win the War of Independence. The Constituent Assembly also laid down that education was to be provided free of charge.
In addition to chairing the Constituent Assembly, Rei also served as the state elder from 1928-1929 as well as member of all compositions of the Riigikogu, chairman of the Tallinn city council from 1930-1934, head of the Estonian government in exile and prime minister in capacity of the president of the republic in exile from 1945 until his death in 1963.