President : Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends of Estonia!
Two weeks ago, Estonia assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. For the first time, we will be responsible for steering the EU. We will do our best to provide leadership in these challenging, but also hopeful times for Europe. We will work hard to resolve current issues but also on bringing forward the digital agenda in Europe.
Also for the first time in our history, we are running for a non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council. We presented our candidature back in 2005. And we are fully committed to this important endeavour.
Estonia became a member of the United Nations 26 years ago, in September 1991, just a few weeks after regaining our independence. I remember the day and I remember how we put trust into this international organisation, an important force for peace and international cooperation.
We restored our independence peacefully through a so-called singing revolution inspired by the will and the unity of the Estonian people. Singing, standing hand in hand – literally, with our Baltic neighbors, in a human chain from Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius, we came back to international discussions, ready to re-establish connections which had been lost during occupation. I still remember how proud I felt when the radio announced that Estonia has become a member of the UN. I hugged my little daughter close to me and felt assured about the future. We were again a state among others.
25 years later we are keen to contribute to global development, having managed a rapid transformation ourselves. Since 1991, our GDP per capita has grown 20 times. We have graduated from being a recipient of development aid, to being a donor country proudly committed to helping those in need. We fully respect political rights and civil liberties, including freedom of speech and thought.
We know we can both inspire transformation and provide technological support for that. It is time to give something back. We want to give back to international community now that we can, as we vividly remember how we were supported while still an emerging economy and young democracy.
As a member of the United Nations, Estonia has actively stood by those fighting for their independence and dignity and against aggression and inequality. We contribute to peacekeeping efforts and to rebuilding conflict-affected states. We channel resources for humanitarian aid, to fight against poverty, to promote sustainable development and to help to combat climate change.
In a world of successive, sometimes overlapping, crises and conflicts, the enforcement of global norms and the rule of law is more important than ever. The only international organization global enough to achieve this is the United Nations. We are ready to serve our global community, we want to contribute, we want to support.
This is why I am proud to present the Estonian candidacy for a non-permanent seat of the UN Security Council for 2020-2021. As an elected member of the United Nations Security Council, Estonia will firmly stand for efficiency, empathy and equality.
We will bring the spirit of openness, transparency and inclusivity to the Security Council. As a member of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency Group, Estonia is already working to improve the working methods of the Council.
We will advocate for more empathy. We need to work together to tackle global challenges, such as eradicating extreme poverty, climate change, migration and humanitarian crises and achieving the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Estonia also strongly believes in equality. Everyone has the right to respect and dignity. We will continue to actively participate in peacekeeping, to invest in development and provide humanitarian aid. Our common challenge is to do more to prevent conflicts. We will work towards increased Security Council efforts dedicated to this end.
Excellencies, dear friends,
Estonia not only believes in multilateralism, we depend on it. Cooperation with other states and organizations is key to our independent existence. We know that smaller states can make a difference when it comes to building bridges and uniting nations. Therefore, we will champion the perspective of small states in the activities of the Security Council.
Thank you all for being here this evening. And thank you for your support to our candidacy!