St. Michael’s Church, Pärnu County, 12 April 2017 – Speaking at the St. Michael’s Church, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the uniting of the territories inhabited by Estonians into a single Estonia, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas noted that, even though it is perhaps difficult to measure the importance of the unification today, this important step led to the unification of Estonian lands into the Estonia that we know today.
“The united autonomous national governorate was a big step and clear requirement on the sacred journey to our people’s independence,” said Prime Minister Ratas. “The founding of the Republic of Estonia would have been inconceivable without our sense of unity. The national identity could not be limited to only linguistic unity,” said Ratas, adding that the local people who had become Estonians also needed a spatial sense of belonging, and a common social sphere of meanings, containing common traditions, customs, a common mentality, and common landscape markers surrounded by stories. “This territorial ‘us’ – established alongside the linguistic-cultural ‘us’ – meant the birth of the Estonian state as well as its people’s common home.”
The Prime Minister stated that the unity ensured by the state is not an insurance policy against the possible development of lines of division within the state itself. “By festively celebrating today's historic moment we are also admitting that in Livonia-Estonia – which was relatively more autonomous and at one time wealthier than North-Estonia – there are several counties that are fighting against self-marginalisation," said the Prime Minister, adding that the truth of the matter is that Estonia is tilted towards Tallinn and Harju County.
“I would like to say that marking the 100th anniversary of the Estonian state does not absolve us from the obligation to re-establish a common state each day. So that the old and new borders of counties and rural municipalities do not cleave us internally, but that instead our cooperation can be preserved along with knowledge that it is the same Estonia that exists in Lääne County as well as Võru County, in Viru County and Pärnu County, and, of course, here in Mihkli village.”
Today, an ecumenical service and concert by the Estonian National Male Choir (Director Mikk Üleoja) took place in Mihkli Church with the programme “Tasase maa laul” (“Song of a Level Land”), in which works by Veljo Tormis, Villem Kapp, Konstantin Türnpu, Eduard Tubin, and Gustav Ernesaks were performed. The Lihula women’s choir “Leelo”, the Lihula men’s choir, and local youths also performed. Before the service, the Prime Minister laid a wreath at the foot of War of Independence Monument in Koonga cemetery.
The opening event of Estonia 100 has also been inspired by the events that took place on April 16, 100 years ago today. On Sunday, 3,000 people are expected to participate in hikes along the former governorate’s border, from the shore of Lake Peipus to the shore of the Baltic Sea. Prime Minister Jüri Ratas will be participating in the hike from Adavere to the Päinurme Community Centre.
Anyone who is interested can register for the hikes via ev100.ee. The Sunday hike will be broadcast on ETV.