Estonia's Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's speech in Riigikogu on 2 May 2007
Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip’s speech in Riigikogu on 2 May 2007
Honourable Chairman of the Riigikogu,
Good members of the Riigikogu,
I was planning to start my today’s statement in a bit different manner but the events that took place this morning do not allow me. A physical attack against the Ambassador of Estonia to Moscow that did not lead to the worst consequences due to the adequate measures taken by the police is not just a minor joke of the protestors. This, together with the continuing cyber-attacks from the servers of Russian state authorities, together with tearing the Estonian flag off our embassy and together with statements made by the delegates of the Russian Duma, calling for the change of government in Estonia, indicates that our sovereign state is under a heavy attack. All these events evidence that these are not our internal matters we are dealing with but it is a well-coordinated and flagrant intervention with the internal affairs of Estonia.
We have turned to the European Union and we ask them to take immediate action. Attacking one member state means an attack against the entire European Union.
Good members of the Riigikogu,
For me Estonia has always been a small and beautiful country where people living here can feel as almost a part of a family. A family that cares about the common future. A family that preserves common values. Where everything is done for the benefit of our descendants.
Should the events that took place during the two nights of last week make me or us to change this opinion, this conviction?
The rioting and vandalism that took place on the streets during the two nights of last week gave us a bitter knowledge that right here besides us lives a small group of people who are not able or do not want to hold on to our common country. The days that have followed these depressing nights have still given us assurance that there are also very many people caring about our country, people who condemned the barbarity of the vandals.
Those are the people who love Estonia regardless of their national background and who consider important that our life should continue moving in the direction that it has taken during the last 16 years. These are the people who, regardless of their nationality, consider Estonia to be unique and ours, for whom the future of Estonia equals to their future and the future of their children. Such people, both with Estonian and Russian background, form the absolute majority.
Good members of the Riigikogu,
During the last year I have been standing here in front of you on several occasions, answering questions related to the situation at Tõnismäe. Questions demanding an answer – when will the monument, being the source for so much tension, be relocated?
I have been also discussing with you that the bronze soldier standing at Tõnismäe did not have a univalent meaning.
If the monument located in one of the busiest locations in city centre symbolised for some of us occupants and deporters, for others the memory of the dead and grief, and for some people nostalgia for a totalitarian state that has disappeared, then it really could not be a monument unifying our society.
As it has been stated here several times before – relocating the monument being the focal point for political provocations to a more suitable location had become the only option from the point of view of national security.
I know that among you there are people who now would like to ask, whether now was the right time to do it? Maybe we should have waited – waited for a year or two?
I can assure you – long wait and delay was not possible and it could have had consequences compared to which the events that took place last week would have probably seemed to be just innocent frolicking.
As I have confirmed to you before – it was the Government’s wish to complete the excavation of remains first and only then relocate the monument with full honours and a suitable ceremony. The wave of vandalism that started in Tallinn at night on April 26, the attacks of the criminals against the safety and property of Estonian people, left the crisis management committee and the extraordinary meeting of the cabinet no choice.
In order to prevent violent conflicts, the Government had to react decisively and quickly. Something had to be done right away.
On the night of April 26th we had two choices – whether to take control of the situation, together with all the responsibilities relating to the future, or to allow the control to be taken by those who had come to the streets for rioting.
We assumed responsibility and decided the course of events.
The monument was removed early in the morning, after the rioting of criminals ravaging the city had faded away.
In its new location, the bronze monument has been already accepted by hundreds of people over a short period of time. “Beautiful,” summarised the situation in the new location a Russian-speaking lady. Her straightforward reaction probably characterises the best the opinion of those people who really care about the monument itself, and not about the incitements of riots or a coup d’état that use the monument as a pretext.
I think that soon there will be thousands of people like that, both Estonian- and Russian-speakers, as in its new environment the monument has no longer manifold meanings. In its new location at a cemetery, the monument has become a memorial to those killed during the war, and it can no longer symbolise those guilty for the sufferings of our nation – deporters and killers of 100,000 people, people causing 100,000 Estonians to flee from their homes.
What will happen next?
First of all – we all must be grateful to all those who came and helped our people during these restless nights. We are grateful to the police, ambulance personnel, doctors, members of rescue teams. We are also grateful to those who do all they can to punish the criminals – our law enforcement authorities.
But I would also like to thank those ordinary people who came and helped to liquidate the consequences of the acts of vandalism.
I still have this image in front of me where a shop owner, speaking with tears in his eyes, told about complete strangers bringing back some valuable goods found on the floor of the neighbouring shop that was also vandalised. Those items had probably fallen out of thieves’ pockets while rampaging through the next shop… Isn’t it a bitter but telling example, characterising so well the different attitude of different people on those nights…
I would also like to thank our friends – foreign countries who have voiced their support and offered help. Among those countries are our closest neighbours in the south and across the sea, but also a large number of other EU member states, our partners in NATO, as well as countries not belonging to neither of those organisations. It means a lot for us to know that that we have so many supporters. We value it most highly. But I would also repeat what I said at the beginning of my statement – we expect from the European Union a straightforward reaction to the well-coordinated attacks of Russia.
Good members of the Riigikogu,
The calm Walpurg’s Night does not mean that the provocations targeted at causing tension and attempts to incite conflicts are gone forever. It is not so.
The following days will be probably full of misleading information that aims at nothing else but inflating anger. I am sure there will be people behaving in a provocative manner. There will be different calls for organising various actions. There are those, whose business or personal interests are related to Russia so tightly that the field of information they live in has affected their opinions and statements made with respect to the events in Estonia.
We have to be prepared for all of that. We must be superior to all of that.
We – you – everybody has their electors. I am asking you to address them and ask them to remain calm and not go along with the provocations that still may take place in the near future.
It is in the interest of all of us – parents, teachers, war veterans and freedom-fighters – that the paid provokers and criminals would not disgrace the memory of the dead and spoil the future for all of us, especially our children and grandchildren, in our European and beloved Estonia.
In order to accomplish that, I am asking support, understanding and assistance from all of you. Let us show that hostile provocations, violence and criminals do not have a place in the Christian and European tradition, as well as in celebrations.
I call on everybody to commemorate those fallen in World War II on May 8th and celebrate the Festival of Europe on May 9th in an European way – with dignity and peacefully. This has always been the way things are done in Estonia.
To conclude, I would like to rephrase what has been said by President Lennart Meri:
“One country cannot have two futures standing back to back to each other.”
All of us have to understand, realize and accept that we have people with different past living in our country. But we have a common future. Right here, in our common state. In Estonia.
This is what we must work for. The Parliament, the Government and the people. All together.