Renewed: 24.02.2014, 13:48

24 February 2014 12:48

Chief of Defence: Smart solutions and innovative thinking are as important as traditions and values

Chief of Defence: Smart solutions and innovative thinking are as important as traditions and values Chief of Defence: Smart solutions and innovative thinking are as important as traditions and values

The address of the Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces, Major General Riho Terras, to the parade in honour of the 96th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia on February 24, 2014 in Pärnu.

Honoured President of the Republic!

Respected Speaker of the Riigikogu!

Mister Primeminister!

Excellencies! Members of the Estonian Defence Forces and the Defence League!

Fellow Estonians!

Ninety six years ago Estonia was looking for an opportunity for itself. In other words our people were so to speak between two flames. In the cauldron of events with the retreat of the Soviets and the attack from the Germans, we were trying to find the right time and place to bring forth and fulfill a dream. This was the dream of an independent Estonia.

Whilst thrust into the midst of the carnage of the I World War, Estonia had a place where the local people’s bravery and fearlessness favoured a situation which supported the fulfillment of a dream come true. This place was the City of Pärnu.

As read out from the balcony of the Endla theater „The Manifest to the People of Estonia“ led to overwhelming emotions from the citizens of Pärnu.

The school girls of Pärnu had made blue black and white ribbons for the declaration of Independence, which were given out to the people and which they wore proudly. We still wear these colours with pride to this day.

In honour of the Republic of Estonia the Defence Forces, Defence League, academy of the interior as well as units from our Allies are paraded here today as it was ninety six years ago on the February 24th when the first military parade in Estonia was held here. Pärnu is the site of the birth of our nation.

As we all know, we had to take arms and go to war to defend our independence. Estonian independence was forged on the frontlines of the War of Independence. It was there that our spirits were alight and carried the flame of liberty through good and bad times. It was in this war that we won that the Estonian Defence Forces, alongside our nation was born, grew up.

The Estonian Defence Forces have been a force of the people, from the first battles at the beginning of the Independence War. A strength and true force in battle was only achieved in the Independence War when the people of the nation joined in an united effort. High school students and University students with their youth and energy, excited the rest of the population and gave them the will to fight. Through many sacrifices and sufferings was established the nation that we call our home.

The same belief which students carried in the War of Independence is still needed today. The persute of education and knowledge by the nation’s youth participating in public activities is a clear indication that Estonia is guaranteed a well defended and bright future.

In our families and homes, villages and towns, in our midst are people that keep alive the bond between the nation and national defence. This is done in mandatory service and in the reserves, in the Defence League  and active duty units, during foreign missions and in staff headquarters.

Along with mandatory service, the reserves are a key pillar in our military defence. To this foundation is added our independent defence capability which along with assistance from our allies forms a solid basis for our national defence.

The strength of the reserves and battle readiness foundation is impregnated into mandatory service. This is imperative that the time spent on training is thoughtfully maintained.

The task of the Estonian Defence Forces and of the nation is to give high quality military training and establish better opportunities as well as conditions that will allow youth to experience a love of their country, adopt decent values and form long lasting brotherhood in arms.

The steadfast wall of the reserve army is full of learning experiences, where knowledge and skills are constantly renewed and put to the test. With participation in military exercises we have progressed step by step towards a stronger reserve. Only in this way, do we have a better and more accurate picture of our country’s defence capabilities.

The strength of our reserve depends upon our nation – with this we support our loved ones, friends and co-workers, who aside from their daily work and family life, contribute to the security of the nation.

I am sincerly pleased that that the vast majority of employers have demonstrated understanding and support. They understand that there truly is no better worker and colleague than a devoted reservist.

The single most binding element in the National Defence of Estonia is free will. Sometimes it seems difficult for a bystander to understand why individuals would, of their own free will contribute to national defence . The Defence League is a great way of protecting your own home and the supporting the national defence of Estonia.

The Defence League’s biggest asset towards national defence is our own well trained people who know and understand their own home forests, marshes and meadows but also their own streets and backyards. This is the basis for a strong army which the primary military assignment of the Defence League.

Estonia’s military national defence relies on two equally important pillars – individual defence capabilities and Ally based collective defence.

In a month we will be celebrating ten years since NATO accepted Estonia as a full member. NATO has had significant changes during this ten year period.

Firstly, it is now clearly understood that even with the ending of the Cold War the dangers that NATO was created for, have not disappeared or in other words – the Alliance’s basic task is the future of collective defence.

Secondly, the more than ten years lasting war in Afghanistan has refined the Allies armed forces’ co-operation to such a level that was never imagined of. This is a value that must be maintained. Consequently the Allies must conduct regular large-scale exercises, especially those that train the application of National defence.

For example the last large exercise last autumn trained the defence of Estonia according to NATO’s Article V. I repeat – this is necessary! Last year’s large scale maneuvers behind our eastern border confirm that fact.

Our military presence in Afghanistan, in its present form is ending. NATO with its many partners has completed a large job. The time is ripe for the Afghans to take over the responsibility of their defence.

I thank the Estonian Defence Force members, non-commissioned officers and officers whose service in Afghanistan has been outstanding. It is my privilege and honour to command a defence force that has the best soldiers in the world!

It is clear that crisis and worries have not disappeared from the world. For example, Central African Republic – the members of the European Union have decided to contribute to a calming of the situation there as well as allowing the peace keepers of the African Union to keep order there. The decision of the Estonian nation to assist go far away from home shows again persuasively that we are allies that can be counted on in difficult times.

We do not know, what is awaiting for laboring Syria in its civil war nor how the majority there will react to the end results. Not far from the borders of Estonia, in the Ukraine with their continuing concerns, it is clear that in the worse case scenario it will not leave the rest of Europe unaffected.

Estonia, in the development of its national defence as well as co-operation with NATO and friends from the European Union has proceeded using country wisdom and with the understanding that to protect your home and family you must apply yourself. This means that wise and skillful contributions are needed to protect your own nation.

Smart solutions and innovative thinking are as important to our defence as are our traditions and values. It becomes increasingly important to have a clear sense of direction and sharp eye  in cyber space, because this clearly intertwined with our reality. This is part of our daily lives.

We are part of a fortress that the protection of, along with our friends and Allies is our joint responsibility, this fortress is NATO. Confirmation of this can be seen here at the Defence Forces parade where we can see our brothers in arms from the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Denmark with whom we served with in Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. Our good friends and neighbours from Latvia and Lithuania are here as well. We thank you!

In the security of the nation of Estonia as well as the standing up for its well being, the veterans have been on the frontlines, who had a popular recognition celebration for the first time last St. Georges day. 

To honour this event and to show support the Sinilill badge was chosen as its symbol. Very soon you all of reason to notice the sinilill badge even more because this year during St. Georges day we will be celebrating Veterans day again.

My fellow Estonians, we are together today at the same place where the first Defence Forces parade was held. With this in mind and and celebrating our nations birthday we must deeply bow before all of those that with their bravery and enthusiasm were able to create our nation; Who protected it with their lives, and assuredly to those that protect it to this day.

Let it be clear that our nation’s independence and freedom as never been nor never will be self-evident. The Republic of Estonia was created for our people and for the defence of our freedom.

Long live the Repulic of Estonia!

Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces, 717 1900, mil[at]mil.ee, Juhkentali 58, EE15007, Tallinn, Estonia.

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