"A Fraternity of Freedom" -Toomas Hendrik Ilves

Estonia's former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves sent a letter to Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili to congratulate him on the 100th anniversary of Georgia's declaration of independence.

In his letter, President Ilves congratulates the Georgian President, and points out how deep the connection between Estonia and Georgia is and how it will remain.

"Oddly enough it was Joseph Stalin himself, in a letter to Lenin during the debate as to how far the Soviet Union could expand, who said the USSR can never include states that had their own flags and embassies abroad. The letter was later suppressed, of course, as the USSR turned into an imperialist predator state. Yet Stalin was right: once a people have tasted independence, they do not forget it, and the memory of what it was like is passed on from generation to generation, until it is realized again," Ilves wrote.

"This is why our hopes and struggles to regain our independence could never be quashed. This is why we both do not date our independence to 1991, but to 1918. We established it, we had it, it was taken away from us, and our forefathers suffered for it. So we have remained true to their ideals and remembered their sacrifices, and vowed to restore it. To take back what was stolen from us, because it is ours."

"More importantly, it is thanks to our forefathers that we realize we today are the custodians of the state they created. It is our duty to defend it, to remember always what they did. We all are stakeholders in our countries, because it belongs to us. But it belongs even more to our children and future generations as well. Thence our duty, as Ronald Reagan once said: 'Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream; it must be fought for, protected, and handed over for them to do the same.'"

"Understanding this fundamental truth is what lies at the heart of the deep friendship between Estonians and Georgians. Not some silly friendship of nations shoved down our throats by an imperial overlord, but a fraternity of freedom that unites us, as people, as individuals. A fraternity that brought out one hundred thousand Estonians to the Song Festival Grounds in August 2008, to sing for your freedom. A fraternity of freedom that for all these years has been the basis of our bond." -Toomas Hendrik Ilves

28 May 2018 10:47