Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Alexander Stubb at the Parliament of Estonia, the Riigikogu, on 27 May 2024

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Estonia and Finland – family, friends and allies

Austatud Eesti Vabariigi President (Distinguished President of the Republic of Estonia),
Lugupeetud Eesti rahva esindajad (Honoured representatives of the Estonian nation),
Kallid sõbrad! (Dear friends)

My wife and I would like to thank you for the warm welcome we have received here in Estonia. Aitäh (Thank you)! We are looking forward to our three-day state visit both here in Tallinn and in Tartu. It feels like home.

You will all know that Estonia has a special place in the hearts of all Finns. We have a shared identity, common roots and a similar language. At times, we have been torn apart, but we always come back together. We have a shared destiny. Today, more than ever.

As the President of Finland, it is a great honour to give a speech here in Riigikogu, the cradle of Estonian democracy. ”Mina räägin teiega sõbra, sugulase ja liitlasriigi riigipeana.” (I am speaking to your as a friend, a family member and the head of state of an ally).


I have visited Estonia dozens of times, both for work and pleasure. The first time was over thirty years ago. It was right after you had regained your independence. I remember watching your ”Singing Revolution” with great joy when I was a young student in the United States.

I even took a semester traveling in the Baltic States with my fellow students in early 1992. It was with a sense of pride that I told my American friends about the heroic efforts of my Estonian brothers and sisters. Estonia was free at last.

However, my love for Estonia began long before that. When I was a kid my father told me about a brave, brotherly people who suffered under the tyranny of the Soviet Union. We talked a lot about the Estonian language, culture and yes, athletes.

I remember Heino Puuste from the 1983 World Championships in Helsinki and Andrus Värnik’s winning World Championship throw in 2005. And, of course, Erki Nool in Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.


I was extremely happy when Estonia joined the European Union and the euro. I was equally pleased, though a bit jealous, when you joined NATO. Within a few years of independence, you had actually become more integrated to Western institutions than Finland, or any other Nordic country for that matter.

This was of course good news for the security of the Baltic Sea in general, and Finland in particular. Your membership in NATO gave us protection. At the same time, our strong and independent defence brought stability to the region.

I remember working closely with Toomas Ilves on the Baltic Sea Strategy in the European Parliament. I also became close friends with Urmas Paet when I was Foreign Minister and Taavi Roivas when I was Prime Minister. Shared values and a common understanding of security brought us together. It still does.

When I was in government, I was often asked whether Finland would defend Estonia in a crisis situation. For me the answer was clear – of course we would! And in any case we should be thankful that Estonia, a NATO member, would do the same for us. Today, the situation is clearer than ever. It is called Article 5 – one for all, all for one.


You know, sometimes we Finns are a bit shy about expressing how we really feel. I think you Estonians know what I mean. So let me say it clearly – Finland is very lucky to have Estonia as a neighbour. We are family, friends and allies.

Small nations breathe the same air, especially those who live next to an imperial power like Russia. We want to co-exist peacefully, but have to be prepared at all times. For us foreign and security policy is always existential.

Finland was neutral during the Cold War, not out of free will or ideology, but out of necessity. We did not have a choice. When we had a choice, we immediately joined the EU. When there was no other choice, we became NATO members. Better late, than never.

And rest assured, we will do our part in the Alliance. We understand the responsibilities that come with doubling NATO’s border with Russia. Our defence capability strengthens the northeastern part of Europe. That, combined with our concept of comprehensive security will continue to strengthen NATO in the Baltic Sea region. And again, we will do it together with Estonia.


The post-Cold War era is over. History did not end in 1989, as so many of us expected. The order, balance and dynamics of world politics are in flux. European security is marred by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. A new Iron Curtain divides Europe.

Finns, like Estonians, are often asked about Russia. Our base case rests on three simple realities.

First, during the next few years Russia will continue to ramp up its military and will reach levels similar to when it began its attack on Ukraine.

Second, nothing indicates that Russia’s foreign policy will change from aggression and expansion to peaceful co-existence.

Third, Russia is not in the process of becoming a liberal democracy any time soon.


It is against this background that we must make sure that Ukraine wins the war. At the same time, we must continue to make sure that NATO’s defence and deterrence remains strong.

The new normal is that Russia will continue its war of aggression in Ukraine while launching various hybrid operations in an attempt to intimidate and destabilise all EU and NATO countries. We see this week after week in Europe.

The best response is to stay cool, calm and collected. The best way to prevent it going any further is to prepare. And that is exactly what we are doing.

In the short term, we must continue to give Ukraine financial and military support. In the medium term, we must help Ukraine to achieve a just peace. In the long term, we must make sure that Ukraine becomes a fully fledged member of both the EU and NATO.


Finland’s foreign and security policy is founded on value-based realism. Its starting point is a strong alliance with the European Union and NATO. At the same time, it is based on the belief that the foundation of the new international system and of peace lies in reforming and strengthening the UN.

Our foreign policy has its firm base on Western values, including democracy, the rule of law and human rights. We believe in cooperation and in the rules-based international system.

At the same time, our security policy is based on realism. That is why we maintain a strong defence capability – now, as part of a military alliance. It is also realism to understand that the great global challenges cannot be solved only between likeminded countries.


Let me finish by quoting one of the most respected statesmen of our time, Lennart Meri. He once said that “small countries can also affect the course of history, or at least they absolutely must try to do so […]. In the world, no one will care about small nations if they do not themselves state their own intentions loud and clear”.

I think his words should function as a guideline for the role of Estonia and Finland in the world. Small nations must make their voices heard. But, most importantly, we are now using our voice together with our allies and partners in Europe, the EU and NATO.

Tähtis on, et meie toetame üksteist, hoiame üksteist ja kaitseme üksteist. (It is important that we support each other, take care of each other and defend each other).


Thank you. Aitäh. Elagu Eesti! (Long live Estonia!)

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