Editorial: Estonia, my very own!

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Photo: Margus Ansu

«At long last I may breathe easy. I made it. My life is in me still. I’ve got my Estonia, my very own and free!» Just some lines from a documentary novel, written as a diary by Heino Kiik and published in 2007, called «The Joys of Breaking Free» (Vabanemise rõõmud). Penned in August 20th 1991 – 23 years ago.

The Supreme Council’s historic decision of Estonian national independence, born on the final hour of that day, was not altogether elating for Mr Kiik and felt like «formalising what had long been in the atmosphere». Still, the de facto resurrection of his small country poured into words rather emotional.

I have my very own Estonia, the Republic of Estonia. How often do we reflect on the fact? Already, we have a generation raised up for whom an independent Estonia feels for granted, allowing an approach more relaxed. Enjoying the European values, freedom of speech and opinion. Freely travelling the EU till the very Atlantic, we have options to be educated and find employment in various countries.

The people present at the rebirth of Republic of Estonia, closely or loosely, are not as serene. 23 years may feel a long time, perhaps, but when it comes to democracy taking root it’s not much after all. Like a construction worker will feel like nothing is happening, the people deeply involved in our regained independence may fail to sense the advancement. Disappointment is present, bitterness at times. And even the latter may humanly be understood.

Alas, whatever we’ve built over these 23 years does face its threats. In the 21st century, while the world is integrated deeper than ever before, we are beholding a great power annex part of its neighbour – to say nothing about intentional sowing of instability resulting in indirect and direct destruction of human lives. In a globalised world, the nature of conflicts is different – in a way, integration does protect us, and friends and allies abound; at the same time, we need to be prepared for things totally unexpected which, in the world of today, escalate at great speeds.

But even if with our state we stand dissatisfied – for whatever reason – in one thing we may be certain. On the inside, we are free as citizens and individuals, and resonate each morning with the feeling of «my very own Estonia» just like the writer.

A state of our own is something major, and to the people who took us to its restoration our children should ever be thankful. Up to us all now to keep, tend and grow what has been created. To find frightening examples of opportunities lost, we will not have to look too far.