Prague, Charles University, 6 August 2007 – Today at Charles University, Prague, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip was handed over this year’s Vašek and Anna Maria Polak Award for the promotion of freedom, democracy and market economy in Estonia.
The Prime Minister confirmed in his speech that all the three values praised by the award are extremely important for Estonia. The Prime Minister especially emphasized the importance of freedom.
“Freedom means something very special to Estonia,” Ansip said. “It means the right to decide on our own future, the right to choose our own path. We know what it means to live without freedom.”
According to the Prime Minister, we now have the moral duty to help others who are still building their country, but all countries have to make their own decisions and do their homework. This is what the Prime Minister considers the greatest lesson for Estonia when joining NATO and the European Union.
“Although Estonia is now a member of both the European Union and NATO and we have completed most of the reforms, we are still learning,” Ansip said.
According to Prime Minister Ansip, Estonia has understood the importance of listening to and supporting other member states. If we support and understand the position of other countries, the odds are that they will support us in matters significant for us. The Prime Minister holds that we have learned to compromise and as a member of the European Union we have learned to value the Union.
“The public opinion in Estonia regarding the European Union was very sceptical before accession. Today, having had the status of a full member state for three years, over 80% of Estonians support the European Union,” Ansip said.
The Prime Minister also maintained that Estonia has learned not to live in the past. “Of course, history is important and we must not forget it, but we have not let it become the main aspect of our foreign policy. Foreign policy always has to look into the future!”
The Vašek and Anna Maria Polak Award was handed to Prime Minister Ansip by the former American Ambassador in Estonia Aldona Wos, who praised the rapid economic growth and the e-elections and e-government system in Estonia. The award also includes an honorarium of 5000 dollars.
The award ceremony took place in the Karolinium Hall of Charles University. The 15th anniversary of the American Institute on Political and Economic Systems (AIPES) and the end of the summer programme were celebrated simultaneously. This year, 146 students from 30 countries study at the institute. Nine students from Estonia today met with the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Andrus Ansip receives Polak Award