One possible day to commemorate the victims of Communism and Nazism, among many other such days, is unfortunately the day when the Stalin-Hitler Pact and its secret protocols were signed in Moscow in 1939. This act created the basis for the occupation and annexation of several independent nations, including Estonia, and led to massive loss of life and suffering. What followed was the Second World War, the personal, psychological, demographic, economic and political implications of which are felt to this day.
Even now, battles are continuing in one part of Europe and once again, people’s sense of security in Europe is wavering. At the same time, today’s Estonia and Europe are very different from what they were 75 years ago. Estonia and its role in Europe and in the world as a whole have changed. Unlike 75 years ago, Estonia is no longer alone, but is the most internationally integrated state in Northern Europe. Estonia is a member of the European Union, NATO, the Eurozone and all other important major international organizations. We can help to shape decisions that will determine the future of our continent and the whole world. And naturally the kind of future, that will not be governed or defined by fear.
Unfortunately, even today, conflicts in many parts of the world are resulting in causalities and bringing suffering to hundreds of thousands of people. Conflict resolution requires a collaborative effort, for it is difficult and slow. What Estonia can do right now, is to support the victims of aggression. As people freed from the violence of totalitarian regimes, we have experienced atrocities that help us to recognize and understand what is currently happening in the world and to provide solutions. Past experiences tell us that aggression must be jointly opposed, whether near or far. By helping Syrian refugees, the victims of extremists in Iraq and the people of Ukraine, we are contributing to stopping the violence.
The secrets protocols of the Stalin-Hitler Pact divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence. Unfortunately, the desire to govern spheres of influence has not disappeared today. Estonia’s firm position is that every country has the right to choose its future. We need to support Ukraine in their fight for independence and closer integration with Europe. Estonia is doing so in several ways: by participating in shaping the policies of the EU and NATO, sending our experts on international missions to Ukraine, providing rehabilitation for those wounded in the conflict, helping Ukraine conduct reforms and by supporting the people suffering in Eastern Ukraine.
On this day, the victims of totalitarianism are not only being remembered in Europe, but also at official ceremonies on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in the United States and Canada, where this day is known as Black Ribbon Day. The strength and high level of these transatlantic relations are emphasized by the visit of the President of the United States of America to Estonia in early September. Only by acting together with others, can we be confident that everyone’s security is guaranteed.
Communist and Nazi crimes of the 20th century smashed too many worlds within Estonia, took far too many loved ones and severely harmed the whole of Estonian society, so that we now have a clear vision and understanding and are able to identify any source of potential evil from afar. And will do everything possible to prevent a new wave of evil rising from intolerance, extremism and hate.
Estonian society has seen too much pain and sorrow. In remembering all of this, we should smile to one another more. Then there’s a greater chance of others smiling back at us. Just like 25 years ago in the Baltic Way. It makes our society stronger. And a strong and healthy-minded society is also very difficult to influence and break from the outside.