“The Brussels Diary With Yana Toom”: President's Speeches And European Values


For many years on Independence Day, when listening to the President’s speech, I think of European values. And it is not because she speaks of them. It is instead because thinking of these words makes her speeches less European.

The values of Europe are not empty words – they are listed in the second article of the Treaty on European Union. Human dignity, equality, human rights, including minorities, which is especially emphasised. Non-discrimination, tolerance, solidarity.

Arrogant nationalism and diktat of the majority are not on this list. But they are on Kaljulaid’s agenda. Remember, she called upon “preserving the thinking person, and especially the person who thinks in the Estonian language”? It was 2018. A year later, the president reminded us that the protection of independence is impossible without destruction of the Russian language school. Then she called non-Estonians the “compatriots of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds” who “must want to be one of us.” In other words, society is comprised of ethnic Estonians, and everybody else is a stranger.

True, the president also spoke about love: “We must share with them a love for the Estonian language, not an obligation to the state, because love begets love, but harsh measures result in resistance.” Wise! But a year later Kaljulaid forgot everything – and voila: non-Estonians, she said a week ago, have “the obligation, to enrol their child in an Estonian-language school”. Even if “this might be hard to understand” by us, non-Estonians. Well, yes, we are underdeveloped, of course, aren’t we ...?

Are people in solidarity with the President?

“I would, in general, echo the thoughts of the President. Less hatred and more tolerance.”

“Let people have health, a lot, and let everyone get along with each other. And let this difficult period pass sooner.”

“Well, do you think it is worth dividing people into “us” and “them”?” – “To be honest, I don’t even know – why divide, if we all belong to humankind?”

“Everyone should be equal. I was born in the Soviet times. All people are good. I get along with everyone.”

People unanimously talk about solidarity, not disunity. And Kaljulaid’s colleagues in the EU do not allow themselves to lecture minorities about their responsibilities. If President Steinmeier had said on German Unity Day that German Turks or East Germans should want to become “one of us”, it would have been a scandal. But if Steinmeier reproached anyone, it was West Germans that they rarely visited the East. I quote: “We have given up our national narcissism. We are one country. If people are ignored all the time, it is an issue of democracy.”

Also, Macron on Bastille Day pressed for the unity of people in the battle against COVID-19, and he did not broadcast about “foreign-speaking compatriots” who find it difficult to understand some stuff.

To spoil the mood of every third person in the country on its Independence Day is a special talent that Kersti Kaljulaid is not deprived of. Alas, Madam President, the views expressed in your speeches are not consistent with European values. Besides, Estonia was founded by the “Manifesto to All Peoples”, and our classics of literature, like Tammsaare, disseminated not enmity, but the reasonable, kind, an eternal.