8th Estonia´s Friends International Meeting Brought Together Estonia’s Allies from around the WorldEstonia has come a long way to become the country it is today with thriving economy and dynamic cultural scene. However, the country could not have achieved its goals without exterior support. In fact, Estonia has always been making friends beyond its borders and always welcomes their counsel and advice.
In order to thank and recognise business, political and cultural figures whose actions and advice have helped Estonia to become the country it is today Estonia's Friends International Meeting was called to life. The first meeting was held in summer 2010 and was initiated by the President of Estonia at that time Mr Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the entrepreneur Mr Margus Reinsalu and Enterprise Estonia.
There are two main objectives of the meetings: firstly to ensure that the positive message about Estonia is spread around, and secondly to have as many Estonia’s friends in the world as possible. During the event, the participants are offered an opportunity to exchange ideas on the future of Estonia and to have a close encounter with the country’s business community and political decision-makers, as well as learn about its culture and nature. Through discussions, events and networking the participants have the chance to learn more about the country’s current state as well as the ambitions for the future. Over the years the topics that have been discussed have, amongst other subjects, included Estonia’s culture, e-democracy, the country’s position in Europe and global Estonians.
This July the Estonia's Friends International Meeting was held for the 8th time and brought together around 150 Estonia’s allies from all around the world. The list of invitees included politicians who have helped Estonia to achieve its goals on an international stage, businesspeople who have already invested or are interested in investing in Estonia, cultural figures who have introduced Estonian arts to the wider world, as well as many Estonians who are active abroad. Usually the guest list varies every time and the organisers try to gather different figures so that the positive word about Estonia could spread among as many channels as possible.
This year the gathering opened with the traditional symposium entitled "Quo vadis Estonia?“ which focused on the development in the digital age. The symposium was held at the Vabamu Museum and opened with the welcoming words of the President Kersti Kaljulaid who expressed her optimism for the future of the country by highlighting the innovation and confirming her ongoing commitment to matching the standards of the private sector within the public sector.
In addition to the symposium, the attendees were invited to visit the Prime Minister’s Bureau and the day ended with the traditional ERSO (Estonian National Symphony Orchestra) concert conducted by maestro Neeme Järvi. The second day began with visiting the Arvo Pärt Centre which was followed by attending the XXVII Song Celebration.
Over the nine years that the event has been taking place it has brought together bright people with new ideas and endeavors, all of which play an important role in creating friendships and economic ties in the world and therefore contribute to further advancement of Estonia. "Due to the tensions and emotions in recent years in Estonia, Europe and the wider world, it is particularly useful to bring Estonia's friends together in the one room, to discuss ways in which Estonia is doing well and how we could be doing even better," the tech guru and event organiser Sten Tamkivi said. For this reason the gathering seems to be as important as ever and Estonia continues to welcome its friends from all over the world.