August 20, 2011 marks the twentieth anniversary of Estonia regaining its independence from the Soviet Union. This historic event was the culmination of years of struggle by the Estonian people, who never lost their identity or their psychological independence through decades of occupation. Seizing the opportunity presented by an attempted coup in Moscow in 1991, the Estonian Supreme Council reaffirmed the sovereignty of the nation and prepared to face the repercussions. At the time of this declaration, Soviet tanks were en route to Tallinn, and the tragic events that transpired among Estonia’s southern neighbours made clear the dangers inherent in Estonia’s actions.
History was finally on the Estonians’ side and bloodshed here was avoided. The international community, including the United States, quickly recognized Estonia’s renewed sovereignty. No one can avoid being deeply impressed by what has been created here since that critical moment in history: a flourishing democracy and an advanced, prosperous country deeply rooted in Europe and the Euro-Atlantic alliance.
Happy Anniversary, Estonia!
Courtesy of the U.S. Embasy in Estonia (August 19, 2011)